Digital Connectivity does not make a Smart City in India

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People confuse digital connectivity with a smart city, stringing a city with cable, wifi and cameras does not make the city smart though this is a prerequisite for a digital backbone.

The question we need to ask is how will it benefit the citizens living in the city, will it make their quality of life better, their commute easier, their walkways on the streets safer and free of encroachment, will there be enough parking space for their vehicles, and will it reduce the congestion the Indian urban chaos and clutter, will it provide cleaner air to breathe and less garbage on the roads. Finally how do you tackle the problem of Indian slums with poor sanitation and sub human existence of our citizens.

How will Indian citizens get a better government citizen interface for the services expected from the government, India ceased to be a colony 60 years ago but the Government & most citizens find it a challenge to interface with the government, though technically as per the Indian constitution – India is a government of the citizens for the citizens in its democratic framework. Indian government agencies are always playing catch up since the problems are immense in making India a better place to live and earn a livelihood. Every year millions of Indians pack their bags, many of them never to return to India and stay in better urban locations in the world, even if they are labour they enjoy a better quality of life.

Smart cities start with smart citizens, we need to work on quality education for all citizens , we need to provide enough playgrounds for our citizens to give them a chance to win Olympic gold medals and a broad educations to educate future citizens of basic civic sense in keeping cities clean not only from garbage but also from noise and errant traffic.

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The chaos in our cities need to be reduced, we cannot have motorcyclists darting from anywhere with or without helmets and with more than two passengers. We need tighter policing, which means we need to increase the police force, cameras can only assist but cannot replace feet on the ground on a populous country like India.

Citizens do not demand better civic amenities and those who demand are far and few and most are self help volunteer groups making their areas better for their existence. They take over the role of the government whose primary responsibility is to provide better quality of life in Indian cities. Every city is a mess in traffic management , infinite crowds, extereme noise, poor lighting, roads with potholes. Many roads are dug up for cables and other utilities and are never restored to usable condition for months together. India is the only country in the world where easily reusable trenches are not provided for utilities ; it is a perpetual cycle of digging and filling and digging again all at the cost of the poor citizen.

We need to continue our efforts on digital connectivity in our cities but we need better governance in our cities with accountability for delivery of quality services, citizens look the other way since interface with government is a chore and only done when we need a licence or quota from the government officials.

Indian smart cities can only be realized when Indian cities adopt ISO standards for urban living, yes there is a standard ISO 37120:2014 which can be used by any city, municipality or local government wishing to measure its performance in a comparable and verifiable manner, irrespective of size and location or level of development.

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