Smart Cities India Inc. Challenges

Smart Cities Plan in India by NEC

Smart Cities Plan in India by NEC

There is much talk and there are funds. This is all great but where do you start? I did review a few bids for Project Management Consulting among others, which give me a general view on the direction. My personal opinion is this is a big bite operation! It is going to be difficult to chew and digest. In other words. implement and sustain. Having said that, I believe it is the way to go; India has a difficult path ahead. It is not about right or wrong, it is more dependent on the need of the citizens and for sustainable living.

While this is entirely my opinion let me throw back on past Smart-Cities projects, their intent, execution, and management. The problems they did NOT have are of infrastructure and unplanned growth in cities full of encroachment on public land. And let’s not forget population and waste overflow where India has a huge challenge.

Dense Cities 2, Population, infrastructure

Dense Cities 2, Population, infrastructure

In the developed countries the focus is more tuned and visible on Renewables, Smart Grid for energy management, Citizen Engagement, Water smart grids, Resource management, Mobility, and Government interactions.

I see the same hues in India however, there are issues in Indian cities – population in India is a biggie, waste management, power, water supply, sanitation. The Planned Footprint of Smart Cities Idea in India to me seems kind of, I want all things now!

Dense  cities of India

Dense cities of India

While I am sure there is adequate consulting help and input, but the execution, in India has been always a problem. Except for the Delhi Metro, that is a classic case study.

The Smart Grid City was Boulder Colorado, complete Energy management, and Wind energy storage. They also provide users ability to manage their energy use. This was way back in 2008 and there started the talk of Smart Cities.

Given that nearly 60% of energy produced in India is not billable, theft and line loss. This is a huge number that is spewing carbon. But it is a critical area that needs focus to generate revenue from renewable energy generation and streamlining the collection; I do not see these on the list in any city’s plan in India. This is a major source of diversification into renewable energy.energytheft

City of Seoul, South Korea had a major problem with trash collections and overflow. They solved this by placing additional specialized bins, smart enough to ping for pickup. Of course, it is a lot more than that as it is on a network and also does pick routes planning etc.

seoul intelligent trash collection

Trash overflow has been a perineal problem in India, wherever you go. While I do see streets are a lot cleaner than say 10 years back. This problem persists because Indians, us all are very bad with our disposal of trash habits. We are compelled to crumple and throw the chip wrappers and or plastic bottles just about where we are standing. Dogma! Just saying…

I have a friend who manages a Trash pickup business in Delhi; he says the only waste that is going to landfills is the wet waste. Because hey we are very good at recycling and extending the life of what we buy. So it is organic trash. Now a good old anaerobic digester (Michigan State Univ.) will do wonders. How about a plan to deploy them across smart cities? One decent size digester per locality is doable. Laws to ensure institutions and business also deploy and manage their trash locally. Not only can you generate energy but also get the waste as manure! Waste management and Recycling go hand in hand and they make revenue. The bi-product of these digesters is fertilizer, great use in sustaining food production and greening the environment.Anaerobic digestor

 What I am trying to say is by and large the approach for developed countries has been taking one problem at a time and nailing it! That is in no way suggesting that multiple projects cannot be seeded. What you put in place will have to be sustainable and not just superficial, that is where rules and regulations get into the game, creating major rules for city managers.


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