DELHI, (Smart Cities News): In 2014, when the Central Government announced its most awaited Smart cities mission, little did the nation had an idea that it would turn out to be such an inevitable component for urban livelihood What has taken a severe toll on livelihood and life in a major way, has also rendered major take away goals for us as a community, especially for urban city administration and smart city components rolled out, which are utilized to optimum scale for monitoring and mitigating Covid-19 situation across the country.
Moreover, the central Government’s rating concept for best cities also enabled the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to utilize allocated funds for the mission mandate to the optimum level and support healthy competition in exchange for best and next practices. Needless to mention the mandate and criteria of ranking smart cities is re-designated on multiple dimensions including usage of land resources, skillful usage of smart city components, and local people.
Smart City Component: ICCC
Early last year when the newbie disease set-in to make multi-faceted disaster to the community, claiming the huge number of human lives exposing a not strong enough healthcare infrastructure primarily, little did anyone guess the power of the central government’s smart city mandate that has been adopted vividly by the Government for monitoring and management of the pandemic situation and its micro-management.
Shri Durga Shankar Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs clearly stated that smart cities played a pivotal role in combating the Covid-19 crisis across cities in the nation. Smart city component as Integrated Command and Control Centers (ICCC) which has been implemented by many cities, has been effectively put to use for city operation management and converted into Covid-19 war-rooms for analyzing city-specific data, co-ordination with states, city agencies, and connecting with the citizens. He further asserted, “Earlier last year there were 49 working Integrated Command and Control Centers (ICCC), which has now been upgraded to 53 and 30 more to be included in the upcoming months. The ICCC is the powerhouse of latest technologies used to monitor city administrations besides how technology is impacting the citizen livelihood, which is making the difference at large”.
Shri Durga Shankar Mishra mentioned their mandate at large for Smart Cities 2.0 to convert 4372 cities besides other cities as light-house cities so that their unique learning’s can be further propagated to other cities with employability, livability, and sustainability is the core component. According to him, in cities where the infection was spread rapidly, the ICCCs helped micro-monitor every patient, tracing their contacts, supplying things to their homes, ensuring cleanliness, and predicting the requirement of the number of beds, masks, sanitizers, etc.”
What further impacted and connected human lives and smart cities in a single thread is how the pandemic has transformed India’s urban development strategy as the country has prioritized sustainable urbanization which has been critical to COVID-19 recovery. India is moving towards creating sustainable urbanization by the formation of multiple well-planned, managed, and financed cities and towns to create economic, social, environmental, and other quantifiable values that can vastly improve the quality of life of its citizen. In another instance, Shri Harit Shukla, Managing Director, Dholera Industrial City Development Ltd (DICDL), a Gujarat State Undertaking, highlighted Smart city components like social housing and inclusive zoning can restore economic growth and incorporate future city development making smart cities more sustainable in environmental, social, and economic terms. Smart sustainable cities are harnessing the full potential of information and communication technologies and policies to tackle challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shri Shukla further said, “The New Gujarat Industrial Policy (GIP) 2020 is designed to strengthen Gujarat’s manufacturing ecosystem as well as provide a thrust to the upcoming sectors of India’s dynamic business ecosystem even when pandemic like situations hit the economy hard. The policy objectives include employment generation, new generation manufacturing, the advancement of thrust sectors, technology adoption, support to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and balanced development of industry and infrastructure. Gujarat Industrial Policy 2020 is indeed a game-changer and includes remarkable features like offering land on lease, DE-linking of incentives from tax structure and replacing it with capital subsidy without any upper ceiling that will attract investment within the state. The vibrant industrial policy spearheads balanced regional development and is the torchbearer for inclusive growth.”
In a nutshell, even though the pandemic took its share of a toll on human life and economy, the show must go on for the economy to be on an incremental trend, which causes our bureaucracy has been strategizing to coin in new effective theories relentlessly.
The Digital Sabotage
With the set-in of the pandemic, what’s made mandatory is social distancing which has kind of set in as a new normal for every domain of operation and government set up is no exception. Work from home culture has been set up for almost all major in corporations has won employee trust of being safe despite having the thrust beyond work hours. Thanks to digital disruption and the adoption of technology on a massive scale across society.
The MOHUA secretary stated that whether it is the Internet of Things (IoT), ML, AI, and other technological advancements, including the smart cities as an organic lot, the MoHUA is focusing on deploying all sensors to analyze through ICCCs thereby sharing instructions on how to use them in a best possible manner.
Shri Durga Shankar Mishra, Secretary MoHUA commented on saying: “We have witnessed a tremendous shift towards the adoption of digital technologies across sectors, over the last five years. The Indian IT sector has always maintained resilience and the disruption brought about by the pandemic has only fast-tracked the adoption of digital technologies across all sectors and business functions. Digital technologies and platforms have been central to the government’s COVID response strategy, and also for the recovery of economic activities across various sectors.
He further asserted that the impact of the sudden lockdown reduced the reliance on physical service delivery channels and gave a boost to the IT sector. This accelerated transformation would be driven by the investments being made across multiple areas including hardware manufacturing in the country, artificial intelligence, developments in language technology, cloud adoption, IoT, etc. All of these, together have the potential to create economic value worth $1 trillion in the next 4-5 years.
As innovation continues to present new solutions in the Post-COVID era as IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning play a pivotal role in technological advancements in smart cities the Covid 19 pandemic has accelerated adoption and innovation in the tech-implementation space.
Shri Harit Shukla, Managing Director, Dholera Industrial City Development Ltd (DICDL) confirmed: “As economies have accelerated digitization, digital adoption has taken a quantum leap at both the organizational and industry levels. Rapid migration to digital technologies driven by the pandemic will continue post-pandemic. Industries from healthcare to education to finance to manufacturing, the pandemic has forced companies to use in every facet of their operations Technological advancement at Dholera is at its peak as it offers its kind inducements like the lowest power tariff within the country, availability of power, and water from day 1 of land allotment, etc.
Smart Cities Mission 2.0
Emphasizing the prominence of three primary goals for Smart Cities Mission, Mishra asserted that the Mission 2.0 of the said mandate is more about improving liveability, economic ability, and sustainability, for which the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is organizing all sorts of new experiments in the mission, including basic infrastructure leveraging tech-implementation to indicated to provide better facilities and sustainable solutions to people.
With the 15th Finance Commission granting INR 8000 crore to the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry to gestate eight new cities to address the challenge of growing urbanization, as per Mishra. He further asserted that most of the existing smart cities have become saturated owing to the growing urban population. Focusing on how important are Industrial Smart Cities for economic growth, Mishra further commented, “Though green-field Industrial Smart Cities are in a very nascent phase as of the current situation, their contribution to economic growth is replicable for other cities. Creating jobs, industries, manufacturing is one of the prime sources of economic gains for not only cities but also for the nation at large. India has less scope for Greenfield cities coming up as our existing smart cities still has a lot of groundwork that can be done.”
Dholera Industrial City and Development Limited being one that fits the criteria to be India’s industrial smart cities ensures that initiatives in this area will play a key role in economic revival. The cutting-edge technological innovations which make smart cities will be crucial in accelerating the economy of the country. Key initiatives and exclusiveness within the smart city make it an investment-friendly affair attracting more business within the state. “Dholera with its plug & play model has infrastructure-ready plots supported by an ICT command center making it a lucrative and business-friendly industrial smart city where business and industries can rely upon” said, Shri Harit Shukla, MD, DICDL.
He further confirmed Industrial smart cities are drivers for the country’s economic growth as its economies, technological development, and sustainability are essential for a thriving country. It thereby includes the services offered for its stakeholders. Likewise, the transport network planned at Dholera is imperative to support the economic activities that are expected to increase exponentially over time and make the Greenfield industrial smart city capable of propelling India’s overall economic growth. Its proximity to Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad has led to devising a metro route between the cities. The high-speed metro rail shall also connect Dholera to the upcoming international airport and important urban centers within the city. Similarly, Dholera shall be connected to Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar by a six-lane expressway and Mumbai via Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar through National Highway 8.