The fourth roundtable on Smart Cities was organised on December 16, 2014, in Delhi to set the theme and the agenda for the 2nd edition of the Sm@rt Cities Summit - a twin-city edition to be held in February 2015 in Delhi and Mumbai, respectively. The first roundtable was organised in Mumbai on November 13, 2014. Convened and moderated by Pratap Padode, Chairman, FIRST Sm@rt Cities Council, the event brought together 12 industry experts deliberating upon the agenda for the upcoming conference and discussing the proposed theme ´Concept to Reality´. Here are some highlights.
Dr Sudhir Krishna Former Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development
¨Along with international case studies, we could also have national case studies to help us analyse the positive and not-so-positive features of the case at hand. It will also be a learning experience for us. Second, smart city planning is critical and should be the starting point and other themes should become part of smart city planning. We have tried to define the objectives of a smart city and what exactly we want to achieve in that smartness. It should be efficient, transparent, sustainable, inclusive, safe and competitive.¨
Aameer Azeemi Managing Director-Emerging Cities, CISCO
¨We have gone beyond the definition of a smart city. I have spoken to a number of municipalities in India and they often ask if there is one guide they could refer to, which lists all the best practices.
We could work together and bring out a guide like this as an outcome of this conference.¨
Vince Berkhout Executive Director, AECOM
¨It is important to know who we are planning for. We should focus on what sort of cities we want, the vision we want for the city and how best we can get it. Transformation of cities will take time and cannot happen instantly. We must try and find a framework that´s flexible enough. So a debate on the future of the cities and the type and form would be important. I think it will be a top-down and bottom-up exercise involving both government and consumers. There has to be a clear engagement between the city fathers, mayors and commissioners and the Central and state governments for each state´s future. What needs to be highlighted is the best examples of operations and maintenance and also how cities have been able to overcome the silos between its partners and governance in India.¨
Ved Prakash Head-Government Markets & Affairs, 3M
¨The USP of the summit needs to be elaborated upon as well as the tangible outputs we are getting out of it. We can present eight to 10 actionable items to the government. We all are aware of what a smart city is. Now we need to move to the execution and the how part, where the state and ULBs are involved and they need to be given a fair representation. Also, we must ascertain what the economic activity is that will make a smart city get its population.¨
Amarjeet Singh Head of Technology, Zenatix
¨We could have a core discussion on the usage and ownership of the data generated in these smart cities. A way to generate capital would be to innovate within the subsectors. Innovation has to come from start-ups and if we could somehow include entrepreneurship within each of the mentioned verticals, we can find meaningful things that can draw investment. Showcasing case studies of new innovations will certainly help.¨
Sachin Sharma Director, Wave City
¨There should be relevant case studies of Indian players who are trying to conceptualise, envisage and develop smart cities. We should learn from the challenges they are facing at the concept, execution and operation stages. And these are people across different verticals, like myself, who are developing large cities across thousands of acres, then there are townships coming across a few hundred acres, case studies on central business districts, municipalities and certain brownfield cities that can be made smart. These case studies could bring out the challenges and the way forward and provide a good platform for fruitful discussions. We should look at bringing out a document of guidelines defining the smart city services based on the Seoul model, talking about specific services. Challenges in India go beyond the technology level and exist in the regulatory framework as well, which needs to be addressed. These challenges could be documented as a white paper and then taken forward.¨
Vikram Mudgil Director, Amicus Realty
¨For the first time, I have been extremely impressed by the concept note on Smart Cities by the MoUD. The 46-page document puts benchmarks in a graph. I am amazed at the clarity with which they are working. The note clearly acknowledges that every city has a character that should be retained. They have said that urban local bodies should be engaged in the decision-making process and the basic framework should be national. So it is politically recognised as a concern and is being brought into the planning process. One of the biggest missing aspects is funding. The funding requirements have been clearly stated by the government and the need to harness private-sector investment has been recognised. At the summit, we need to engage with the investor community as well, and find out what steps are being taken to engage them."
Anantnarayan Shanmugam Head-Government Affairs, Wipro Technologies
¨All the talks happening over the past few months have been technology-focused. That is completely wrong; the focus should be on the needs of the people. We have to understand what the people need and first define that; then, the technology follows. To be different, we need to pick up a city and see what all can be done to make it smart, solve its existing problems and giveconcrete solutions. Technology is transferable and can be used by other cities. Define the benchmarks for smart cities.¨
BC Dutta Member, Institute of Town Planners, India
¨Everybody knows technology is smart but it may be even smarter tomorrow. We must carry forward that technology. Cities are not built in a year or two but need to be built over many years. None of our cities is liveable in American terms is but no Indian thinks that way. We have to assimilate. Technology cannot help in that but it can give you a direction and improve it. While looking at a smart city, we have to keep its people in mind. A simple term like inclusive development does not convey much. Every city has its own image and a heart. One has to capture that heart to go forward through the means available with us in different forms.¨
Anand Navani Country Manager, Verint
¨All these concepts need to translate into a policy. I would like to understand the challenges the mayors and commissioners are facing. Municipal, transportation, land and waste management are state subjects. So how will the allocation of a certain amount of fund benefit a particular city? It has to be a state policy. One must know what the roadblocks are. Is policy or lack of political initiative a roadblock? Why aren´t we taking some basic steps; where is the bottleneck? Seeking these answers will help us understand what we as vendors, technology providers and system integrators need to do as an industry to work closely with the government. Also, we could highlight the transportation sector as it needs to be smart before a city can be smart and present solutions in the Indian context.¨
Pawan Mathur Director, Itron
¨Involving the stakeholders from the government sector and attracting them to these conferences would be critical. We should find and invite such like-minded people. Second, we need a broad-based debate on brownfield and greenfield technologies in the Indian context. So it´s easier to retrofit a city like Navi Mumbai where you have well-lit plans of roads compared to putting in new infrastructure in a new city.¨
Harish Nair Senior Director-Consulting, CBRE
¨One thing we often miss out in planning is the right sizing of the cities. For instance, Chandigarh was built for a certain population and built beautifully. But it is bursting at its seams now. And whatever infrastructure you plan for, irrespective of whether it is smart or not, eventually given the population constraints, it will fail. Planning has to be according to the size of the city and the economic activity that will support the population of the city as both have a significant impact on the kind of infrastructure that is developed.¨
Pratap Padode Chairman, FIRST Sm@rt Cities Council
¨Each time we work out the definition of smart cities, we come closer to the truth because we realise what works and what does not. We now need to lay down the path from concept to reality. The best way, one thought, is to bring in the smart practices already being done in India and elsewhere with some sort of relevance to India and that bring about some sort of credibility. The more real case studies we show, the more people will feel it is a doable concept.¨
While technology does bring in change, it should be seen as an enabler while the human element should not be ignored. As Sharma added, smart cities are not only about technology, Dr Krishna advocated that the conference be tangible output driven, and Berkhout emphasised that we should go beyond case studies that have already been discussed. Indeed, all the panellists were in agreement that the use of real, recent case studies and examples would make the discussion more impactful and relevant with a core focus on India-specific examples capturing the ground reality.