Revisiting smarter cities

In a previous blog we mentioned using our weekly sabha’s as a platform to discuss and develop the Design Public conclave challenge tracks. For this week’s sabha we re-visited the smarter cities challenge track, which we will be taking forward from the previous Design Public conclave in to its upcoming edition. Smarter cities is concept developed by IBM, a global technology and innovation company, as well as leader in the Indian Information Technology Industry. In this challenge track the aim is to explore the use of cloud-based information systems in order to ensure smoother traffic flows, regular power supply and the tracking of crime.

To develop designs for a smarter city, we began by discussing about why is there a need to redesign cities in the first place? The answer to this question is simple enough. We all know that every year more and more people become a part of the urban world. One of our previous blog’s states that half the global population already lives in cities and each week, the urban population increases by more than 1 million people, an amount equivalent to adding seven Chicago’s to the face of the planet each year. Also, it is estimated that by 2025 there will be over 5 billion people, and over 135 cities.

The increasing population pressurizes the city space as well as its resources, which then have to be redesigned and redistributed in a way, so that they can cope with the rising demand. For this to happen, there needs to be a delicate balance in regulation from the top, as well as participatory action from the bottom. People need to have a sense of responsibility towards the city in which they live and at the same time the Government should be sensitive to the need of its people as well strong enough to meet the global challenges.

A creative response to this challenge comes from IBM, which has developed a new approach which they call the “Smarter city”. Now-a-days it has become a catchall term referring to energy-efficient buildings, intelligent transport networks,urban infrastructure and energy systems, including smart grids. This approach has catalyzed various Government and private sector initiatives towards developing smarter cities. Take for example the BRT, both in Delhi and Ahmadabad and the metro, which is now being built in different cities . A lot of not for profit initiatives are also geared towards planning smarter travel and power, like Embarq India, Oracle Corporation and a lot more. What remains missing in these initiatives is a holistic approach, since most of them are sectoral and tend to focus on only one aspect of the smarter city.

In this conclave the idea is to bring together the great minds behind these different initiatives and provide a common platform for them to come together and develop holistic designs for a smarter city. A blog on the Embarq India website suggests that a future city must focus on creating an integrated transport network, urban development, accessibility and on maintaining air quality, health and road safety. Also, for managing these cities there is a need to develop an efficient network of communications and marketing. From the interviews I conducted with the experts I found out that there is a lot of focus on technology to develop smarter cities, but technology alone cannot bring this change. There needs to be focus on different aspects like planning, infrastructure along with technology, with an aim towards developing more human centered designs.

This entry was posted in Design!publiC and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *