Progress on the Ground

Experience in select smart cities

The Smart Cities Mission (SCM) has been at the centre of the government’s urban rejuvenation agenda. While progress has been made, it has been patchy. At a recent confer-

ence organised by India Infrastructure on Smart Cities in India, key cities showcased the progress made so far, key milestones achieved, noteworthy projects completed and significant initiatives taken. A brief summary of the progress made in these smart cities…

Bhopal smart city

The SCM focuses on creating a replicable model that will act as a lighthouse to other cities. The Bhopal smart city was one of the first 20 smart cities selected under the SCM. Under the mission, the Bhopal government focused on water and electricity supply, solid waste management, public transport, affordable housing and green township, digitalisation, efficient governance, citizen participation, sustainability, safety, health and education. The Bhopal smart city has been working on the concept of area-based development (ABD), where smart infrastructure is being developed on about 350 acres of land granted by the state government.

Further, the government will monetise about 100 acres of developed areas, seeking to generate revenue for the Bhopal smart city’s future development plans. The government has also developed a smart incubation centre in the city for promotion of start-ups and entrepreneurs. An automated supervisory control and data acquisition system for monitoring of water treatment plants and overhead tanks has been implemented as a part of the mission to ensure optimal utilisation of water resources. Besides, about 350 vehicles have been deployed in the city for door-to-door waste collection and segregation, apart from deployment of road sweeping machines. The government has also set up a biogas plant to generate energy from the biodegradable waste generated at a fruit and vegetable market.

The Bhopal smart city has set up an integrated control and command centre (ICCC) that integrates more than 15 services across the city. Apart from this, a digital door numbering project is being implemented in the city on a pilot basis for effective provision of door-to-door services and property tax collection. A public-private partnership (PPP) project – Smart Pole and Intelligent Street Lighting – is being implemented by the Bhopal smart city in collaboration with Bharti Infratel Limited, Ericsson and HPL Electric and Power Limited, entailing setting up of about 150 smart poles with surveillance cameras and Wi-Fi hotspots, along with over 20,000 street lights, electric vehicle charging points and environmental sensors. Public bike sharing is another PPP project that has been implemented, entailing setting up of about 100 stations with about 500 bicycles to encourage green transportation in the city. Besides, an intelligent traffic management system (ITMS) has been implemented to digitalise traffic monitoring. Bhopal has also taken initiatives in the domain of placemaking and smart schooling, heritage development and solar lighting. The government has launched the Bhopal Plus – One City One App to provide an integrated service platform for online payment and booking, a bus route planner, call administration, vehicle search and emergency services, apart from other services of the Bhopal Municipal Corporation.

Pune smart city

Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited (PSCDCL) has been taking numerous initiatives to facilitate development of a smart city. Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited, with support from PSCDCL, has initiated the procurement of 125 air-conditioned and environment-friendly electric buses, deployed with ITMS. Since February 2019, 25 buses have been deployed. Besides, special charging stations have also been set up in the city. The ITMS has facilitated online tracking and digital travel scheduling for public transport vehicles. Through its place-making projects, Pune plans to transform vacant plots in the city to vibrant urban neighbourhood spaces, with themes ranging from e-learning and skill development, to leisure and meditation. The infrastructure for such projects is proposed to be built with recycled materials. Two such projects have already been implemented, while about 20 projects are under construction. Apart from this, a bicycle sharing initiative has been introduced in specific parts of the city as a pilot project, in collaboration with bicycle sharing companies offering the latest technologies. Besides, the Pune Idea Factory Foundation, a subsidiary of PSCDCL, has been set up to catalyse innovation and entrepreneurship in the city. As part of the smart city plan, the street light initiative incorporates energy efficient technologies and designs to cut street lighting energy costs by up to 60 per cent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The smart lighting LED retrofitting project is a first-of-its-kind PPP project in the city. In addition, a number of smart clinic and smart school initiatives have been taken up in the city under the SCM. Besides, the Pune smart city has undertaken smart mechanised street sweeping and mechanical segregation of solid waste generated. A mechanical segregation plant has been successfully established that converts mixed and dry waste into reusable products such as refuse-derived fuel and compost. In terms of digital initiatives, PMC Care has been launched as an online platform to provide effective grievance redressal and enable a digitalised services and payment platform for citizens. Further, PMC Care 2.0 has been proposed to provide citizens single-window access to all the corporation’s services, with the help of its “collaboration” features.

NDMC smart city

The New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) is also among the first 20 smart cities selected. Work under the smart city commenced in 2016 and, so far, NDMC has been able to complete about 66 per cent of the work. Progress has been made in areas such as place-making, green initiatives, smart classes and the development of an ICCC. Although, almost all urban local bodies (ULBs) face funding challenges, NDMC has been able to mitigate these issues with financial support from the SCM. All smart cities have a city redressal forum where government officials are invited to spell out their needs and recommendations for their respective smart cities. Despite this, public participation in the SCM still has a long way to go and continues to be an unresolved issue. Sustainability poses another key challenge for any smart city. Seeking to resolve this issue, the NDMC has been open to private sector participation in the form of PPPs for implementing smart city projects. Besides, the corporation has been keenly focusing on waste management in the city in terms of automated garbage collection, deployment of new vehicles and incorporation of global best practices. The NDMC’s key focus areas for the next few years include urban mobility and curbing the pollution menace.

Thane smart city

The Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) has been taking numerous initiatives to ensure effective implementation of sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the city. The TMC has signed an MoU with the United Nations Global Compact (a non-binding pact to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation), seeking to come up with a framework for SDGs to be executed in the city. The initiatives primarily focus on poverty alleviation, quality education and well-being, inequality reduction, water sanitation, affordable and clean energy, industry innovation and sustainability, among others. The city has also come up with a “happiness index budget”, seeking to connect the government’s budget with happiness outcomes for citizens. The TMC has also started linking its budget with the SDGs. Thus, the corporation has been able to ensure that the initiatives rtaken by the city are in line with the SDGs. Besides, citizen participation and the use of smart technologies is necessary for ensuring that all stakeholders are contributing to effective implementation of SDGs across the country. The TMC has been open to private sector participation in the city’s urban infrastructure projects. PPPs are likely to be explored in the areas of cluster housing and solid waste management. The private sector has been actively involved in waste collection, segregation and transportation, along with waste processing and road sweeping activities. Improvements in the regulatory framework are expected to further attract private participation in various other projects being implemented in the city. The corporation’s future plans under the mission will primarily focus on development of housing, introduction of 5G to improve connectivity, improvement in e-governance and introduction of drone technologies to improve surveillance in the city. There is immense scope for infusion of advanced technologies to revolutionise management and governance at the city level.

Ranchi smart city

The Ranchi smart city was selected as one of the 13 fast-track cities in 2016. Ranchi Smart City Corporation Limited (RSCCL), formulated in September 2016, is being assisted by a consortium of Tractebel Engineering and KPMG. Under the SCM, Ranchi is being envisioned as a formal and informal education hub, along with an efficiently managed traffic and transportation system aided by information technology. Ranchi also follows an ABD Master Plan, which was approved by the state cabinet in 2017. Within a period of two years from the setting up of RSCCL, a number of projects have been completed, facilitating the implementation of the ABD Master Plan on the ground. Noteworthy developments have been made in domains ranging from land development and transportation to water supply, waste management, power distribution and social infrastructure. Besides, the tendering process has been completed for funds worth about Rs 8.9 billion of the Rs 10 billion SCM funds. Apart from this, technology is being harnessed in various ways to enable all city services to work seamlessly within a given institutional hierarchy, involving all tiers of government in a variety of socio-economic contexts. To ensure mobility for all, issues such as lack of parking facilities and a proper street policy and limited stakeholder engagement are being ad-

dressed. Systemic and reliable real-time data is being used for monitoring and evaluation and for spatial and micro-resource planning. Regular site visits by PMC officials are being made to monitor progress of work in all 36 projects under the SCM. The state government is implementing a public bicycle sharing system to ensure last-mile connectivity in the city, besides reducing the carbon footprint. An ICCC has been established that uses a data analytics-based approach towards policy formulation and implementation. Other smart initiatives taken by RSCCL include the deployment of an ITMS, a smart parking management system, surveillance systems, variable message and public announcement systems, emergency response systems, environmental monitoring systems and Wi-Fi hotspots. Some of the key issues faced by RSCCL during project implementation pertain to financing, getting approvals and clearances, ensuring coordination among multiple stakeholders, retrofitting of existing infrastructure, and making human resource and utility services available.

Based on presentations/remarks by Deepak Singh, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bhopal Smart City (via audio); Dr Rajendra Jagtap, CEO, Pune Smart City (via audio); Nidhi Srivastava, CEO, NDMC Smart City; Sameer Unhale, CEO (via audio), Thane Smart City (via audio); and Rakesh Kumar Nandkeolyar, General Manager, Ranchi Smart City (via audio), at a recent India Infrastructure conference

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