Smarter Cities Challenge Track at Design Public IV

A Slum in Bombay

Cities in India are growing increasingly faster, and it is predicted that half the nation’s population will be living in urban centers by 2050. Even now, many inhabitants suffer inadequate access to transport, power, food, shelter and water, indicating a critical need for smarter cities that better serve their citizens yet simultaneously have a lighter environmental impact. Hence, we need to move past dated planning mechanisms and develop new solutions and an innovative redesign of existing systems.

This challenge track will carry forward from the Smarter Cities breakout session at the third Design Public Conclave, and develop actionable solutions towards specific urban planning problems. It will focus on ensuring smoother traffic flows, regular power supply and the tracking of crime, especially exploring the use of cloud-based information systems that will enable real-time coordination between residents, city planners and systems executors.

This track will be led by several experts in urban design and planning. These include Lina Sonne, who is currently managing research on urban poverty and inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship at Intellecap in Bombay. Jesse van de Zand works at Enviu, a Dutch agency that works to develop and new launch new startups with a focus on social and ecological issues. Madhav Pai is the Director of Embarq India, a non-profit that works together with local transport authorities to reduce pollution, improve public health, and create safe, accessible and attractive urban public spaces. Namrata Mehta, Director of Innovation at CKS, is fascinated by urban design and will bring in a user-centered perspective to the discussion.

The discussion will center around the question of cross-sector collaboration towards urban planning initiatives and ways to design cities, extending beyond technology and cloud-based information systems, and delving into the needs of different inhabitants of cities. It will ask questions of how design and innovation can help solve the challenges of rapid urbanization in India, and what kinds of new collaborations and partnerships we must envision in order to make this possible. It will seek to develop actionable solutions to these questions and develop a plan or vision for the steps that must be taken to achieve these outcomes.

About Ayesha Vemuri

Ayesha Vemuri is responsible for thought leadership and outreach efforts at CKS. She has undergraduate degree in Visual Art from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she also studied such varied subjects as biology, literature and the humanities. At CKS, she is responsible for curating the Design Public blog, managing our various social media platforms, organizing Pecha Kucha Nights and contributing to the intellectual content of the Design Public Conclave and other CKS initiatives. Find her on twitter at @ayeshavemuri.
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