SRINAGAR, INDIA (Smart Cities News): Ever since the current government has taken over the reins of our country, the whole impetus has been on making India a world superpower. One among these was the mission of turning 100 cities into smart cities. The very purpose of this mission was to boost economic growth, thereby augmenting the quality of life facilitated by local area development and harnessing the technology that leads to the smart outcome. Moreover, the Prime Minister’s earlier initiatives of E-Governance, Digital India and Make in India have impeded Indian industry and economic growth. Since time immemorial, India is witnessing a massive shift towards urbanization. The current 40 to 60 percent ratio favouring rural areas is constantly changing due to unchecked influx into cities. This present scenario beholds a grim future. The ever-increasing urban migration will undoubtedly have huge implications like a severe shortage of houses, crumbling of the existing infrastructure. The present government anticipating the above circumstances thus swung into action. To overcome this irreparable exhaustion of the natural resources and the long-term danger of unplanned expansion, the prime minister had laid the vision of smart cities and sustainable development. Therefore, the utmost significance to understand the concept of smart city and also evolve a road map for development through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and infusing technology; in the long-term, the workable model would be sustainable, and for improving the living conditions of people, it is essential to use technologies in their routine life.
Hence Smart city utilizes Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the best possible way to meet the demands of Citizens. Therefore, in a smart city, community involvement is imperative. A Smart city would thus be a city that possesses ICT in particular areas and implements the technology in a manner that directly impacts the community. Furthermore, it involves a strong integration of all dimensions of human intelligence, collective intelligence, and artificial intelligence within the city organs. Therefore, evolving a road map for developing the smart city or converting the town into a smart city is an inescapable necessity. This road map of the smart city, in general, is dependent on three or four significant needs. First, this is to define and study the community before deciding to build a smart city or convert a city into a smart city.
Second, formulate a smart city policy, where roles, responsibilities and objectives are correctly and precisely defined. Third, create a plan and evolve its implementation strategy to achieve goals reasonably without overrunning time and cost. Fourth and the most important is engaging citizens to implement the project through e-governance, open data etc. Therefore, each city needs to have its unique needs and road map depending upon the topography, terrain climatic conditions, local aspirations and environment. Thus, for smart city TX model is applicable with innovations for the creation of core infrastructure in multiple areas for sustainable development and improvement in people’s living standards. Based on the TX model, nearly 50 smart cities have been developed across the globe. Out of that, seven are unique top cities, namely New York, Singapore, London, Barcelona, Oslo, Toronto, and Tokyo. Each of them has unique features. For example, in India, the central government had identified nearly 100 cities.
Jammu & Kashmir cities of the new union territory of Jammu and Kashmir have also been included in the category of smart cities. However, before going further, one must access the Srinagar city in detail. Jammu city lies at the base of uneven ridges of low heights at the Shivalik hills. The Shivalik range surrounds it to the north-eastward southeast, while the Trikuta Range surrounds it in the northwest and lies on river Tawi’s banks. The city has an area of around 240 sq. km (93 sq. miles). The city is divided into 75 wards, and its population by 2021, as per available data, is about 708612.
Moreover, we see a stark contrast in housing patterns between old walled cities and developed colonies. Hence area wise (ward wise) development of Jammu city is the need of the hour. Therefore, before viewing Jammu as a smart city, one must comprehend, get acquainted and analyse these parameters. Therefore, before, topography environment, the mindset of people and community expectations. The younger generation’s aspirations between 20 to 30 years and other age groups also have to be addressed.
The core issues which need attention for sustainable development, improvement in the living standard of the public are: means for the generation of employment, the establishment of research parks for work, establishment of the city, smart ways of waste disposal, 24*7 uninterrupted power supply, adequate water supply, smart and intelligent traffic management systems, beautification of the town, revamping of Dogra heritage especially Mubarak Mandi Palace(Symbolic of Dogra reign), tapping of tourism potential in and around Jammu city through better connectivity with surrounding areas and safety and security of women and children. In addition, extensive use of technology to increase contact between people and government through various technological mechanisms like WIFI, Internet etc. For online interaction with government departments, implementation of Citizen charter for timely disposal of online cases and automatic file tracking system. In the case of Jammu city, when one examines the web portal of Jammu as a smart city, we do come across those authorities who have prepared a very comprehensive proposal. They have initiated some projects. Of course, they have been reviewed at various levels. A lot of work has been done. It includes renovation of bus stand, construction of multilevel parking, erection of Smart signboards, ropeway from Peer Kho to Malampaya temple, Bahu fort to Malampaya temple, paintings across walls, etc. more may be in the pipeline. Besides, specific departments have also started online interaction with people and issuing certificates through online modes. But the core issues which need the attention of all the stakeholders, namely authorities at the helm of affairs, elected representatives and the public, are the following: First is the city’s cleanliness. Proper garbage disposal comes at the forefront of any area, but ironically, the dustbins placed at various locations around the city are overflowing, creating menace.
This is further compounded by the indifferent behaviour of the public, who insensitively throw garbage anywhere. So, we have to be aware of the people. Parallelly, authorities should look into innovative ways of recycling waste disposal and the installation of smart dustbins. Secondly, the uninterrupted power supply during peak summer and winter seems a distant dream even in 2021. Therefore, the concerned department should leave no stone unturned as a 24*7 power supply forms the basis of any smart city. Third, it is important to deploy sensor-based technology-oriented innovative, intelligent traffic management systems at crowded places to overcome the menace of evil parking and irrational and ruthless driving. Fourth, to discourage the entry of private transport into the heart of the city, one must look into the prospect of providing battery-operated cars to commuters at specific exit points of the walled city. Fourth, e-governance aim should be to digitalize all official records, use ICT, WIFI to generate citizen-friendly department-specific Apps for online interaction, and issue certificates to them. Also, adopt citizen charter for all departments and provision of automatic file tracking system. This will instil the confidence in public and will further facilitate the smooth functioning of the departments. Fifth, focusing on the pride of Jammu city -Mubarak Mundi Palace, a historical monument from where the Dogra kings ruled the state for nearly 100 years, needs to be done.
This Dogra heritage should be reinvigorated via museum development, depicting Dogra warriors’ history and culture in line with George Washington’s palace located in Washington DC. Besides promoting tourism, the tourist spots in and around Jammu city need to be augmented. The basic infrastructure in terms of connectivity (four-lane roads), restaurants, and huts must be created to attract tourists. The sixth aspect that needs to be escalated as part of innovative city development is providing better medical care for which existing infrastructure needs upgradation. A database is created for online consultation and diagnosis, and telecommunication is used for diagnosis and treatment.
Similarly, for providing quality education, upgradation of teaching infrastructure, infusion of technology in teaching can be done. Lastly, the recent incessant rains caused havoc in Jammu, exposing the drainage system’s potholes, which also needs renovation. The 21st century is the century of technology. Therefore, those who harness the benefits of technology for the betterment of society will rule the world. Science is the mother of the world. It leads to development, and development leads the community. Hence, those who are handling smart city projects may consider these aspects.