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Smart City – Elements, Features, Technology and Govt. Approach

A smart city is an urban area that uses different types of electronic methods and sensors to collect data. Insights gained from that data are used to manage assets, resources and services efficiently; in return, that data is used to improve the operations across the city. This includes data collected from citizens, devices, buildings and assets that is then processed and analyzed to monitor and manage traffic and transportation systems, power plants, utilities, water supply networks, waste, crime detection, information systems, schools, libraries, hospitals, and other community services. The smart city concept integrates information and communication technology (ICT), and various physical devices connected to the IoT network to optimize the efficiency of city operations and services and connect to citizens. The main goal of a smart city is to improve policy efficiency, reduce waste and inconvenience, improve social and economic quality, and maximize social inclusion.

Smart city technology allows city officials to interact directly with both community and city infrastructure and to monitor what is happening in the city and how the city is evolving. ICT is used to enhance quality, performance and interactivity of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption and to increase contact between citizens and government.[6] Smart city applications are developed to manage urban flows and allow for real-time responses. A smart city may therefore be more prepared to respond to challenges than one with a simple “transactional” relationship with its citizens  Yet, the term itself remains unclear to its specifics and therefore, open to many interpretations. Sustainability is another major facet of smart cities. Urbanization is expected to increase even more in the coming years. The United Nations reports that around 55% of the world’s population currently resides in an urban area or city; this figure is set to rise 68% throughout the coming decades. Smart technology will help cities sustain growth and improve efficiency for citizen welfare and government efficiency in urban areas in the years to come.

Why has the demand of Smart City increased?

More than half the world’s population already occupies urban spaces. Estimates reckon that number to reach two thirds by 2050. This dramatic development is ultimately due to the many opportunities people are awarded to design their own lives in cities. Rising urbanisation, however, also means greater challenges: as cities grow people’s needs and demands must be met in ways that go easy on the environment.

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues we are currently faced with. CO2 emissions must be reduced in the decades to come while measures need to be taken to reign in global warming, floods and extended heat waves. Cities are responsible for approximately three quarters of greenhouse gases worldwide. Being major polluters they are also called upon to provide solutions.

Worldwide networking of labour forces, institutions and information has its repercussions on cities too. Economic and social structures are changing and urban politics need to adapt their strategies to these new circumstances. It means positioning cities internationally between cooperation and competition. The measures taken must not serve the sole purpose of appearances but must focus on internal social, economic, spatial and structural aspects as well.

Smart economies actively support education, qualification, research and entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, productivity and flexibility. Continuous knowledge acquisition and transfer, as well as local and global networks are the main ingredients for creative output. Enterprises offering IT, environmental and energy services in particular are considered the driving force for smart economies.

Reducing energy and raw material consumption and forward looking resource management are among a city’s major concerns. Smart supply and disposal systems are just as important as process driven changes, technological developments and networks for energy, mobility, infrastructure and buildings. Smart grids, for that matter, are a step towards smart energy consumption: intelligent networks and monitoring systems are put in charge of energy generation, storage and consumption. Smart meters are installed to make actual energy consumption more transparent.

Energy enhancement is an important criterion of smart city

The working of Smart City

The primary goal of a smart city is to create an urban environment that yields a high quality of life to its residents while also generating overall economic growth. Therefore, a major advantage of smart cities is their ability to facilitate an increased delivery of services to citizens with less infrastructure and cost. As the population within cities continues to grow, it becomes necessary for these urban areas to accommodate the increasing population by making more efficient use of their infrastructure and assets. Smart city applications can enable these improvements, advance city operations and improve the quality of life among residents.

Smart city applications enable cities to find and create new value from their existing infrastructure. The improvements facilitate new revenue streams and operational efficiencies, helping governments and citizens save money.Smart cities utilize their web of connected IoT devices and other technologies to achieve their goals of improving the quality of life and achieving economic growth.

Successful smart cities follow four steps:

  1. Collection – Smart sensors throughout the city gather data in real time.
  2. Analysis – Data collected by the smart sensors is assessed in order to draw meaningful insights.
  3. Communication – The insights that have been found in the analysis phase are communicated with decision makers through strong communication networks.
  4. Action – Cities use the insights pulled from the data to create solutions, optimize operations and asset management and improve the quality of life for residents.
Asset management of smart city

Technology framework for Smart City

Smart cities use a variety of software, user interfaces and communication networks alongside the Internet of Things (IoT) to deliver connected solutions for the public. Of these, the IoT is the most important. The IoT is a network of connected devices that communicate and exchange data. This can include anything from vehicles to home appliances and on-street sensors. Data collected from these devices is stored in the cloud or on servers to allow for improvements to be made to both public and private sector efficiencies and deliver economic benefits and improvements to the lives of citizens.

Many of the IoT devices use edge computing, which ensures that only the most relevant and important data is delivered over the communication network. In addition, a security system is implemented to protect, monitor and control the transmission of data from the smart city network and prevent unauthorised access to the IoT network of the city’s data platform. A smart city relies heavily on the deployment of technology. Different combinations of technological infrastructure interact to form the array of smart city technologies with varying levels of interaction between human and technological systems.

  • Digital: A service oriented infrastructure is required to connect individuals and devices in a smart city. These include innovation services and communication infrastructure. Yovanof, G. S. & Hazapis, G. N. define a digital city as “a connected community that combines broadband communications infrastructure; a flexible, service-oriented computing infrastructure based on open industry standards; and, innovative services to meet the needs of governments and their employees, citizens and businesses.
  • Intelligent: Cognitive technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, can be trained on the data generated by connected city devices to identify patterns. The efficacy and impact of particular policy decisions can be quantified by cognitive systems studying the continuous interactions of humans with their urban surroundings.
  • Ubiquitous: A ubiquitous city provides access to public services through any connected device. U-city is an extension of the digital city concept because of the facility in terms of accessibility to every infrastructure.
  • Wired: The physical components of IT systems are crucial to early-stage smart city development. Wired infrastructure is required to support the IoT and wireless technologies central to more interconnected living.A wired city environment provides general access to continually updated digital and physical infrastructure. The latest in telecommunications, robotics, IoT, and various connected technologies can then be deployed to support human capital and productivity.
  • Hybrid: A hybrid city is the combination of a physical conurbation and a virtual city related to the physical space. This relationship can be one of virtual design or the presence of a critical mass of virtual community participants in a physical urban space. Hybrid spaces can serve to actualize future-state projects for smart city services and integration.
  • Information city: The multiplicity of interactive devices in a smart city generates a large quantity of data. How that information is interpreted and stored is critical to Smart city growth and security.
Smart city technology

Smart City Features

Some typical features of comprehensive development in Smart Cities are described below.

  1. Promoting mixed land use in area-based developments–planning for ‘unplanned areas’ containing a range of compatible activities and land uses close to one another to make land use more efficient. The States will enable some flexibility in land use and building bye-laws to adapt to change;
  2. Housing and inclusiveness – expand housing opportunities for all;
  3. Creating walkable localities –reduce congestion, air pollution and resource depletion, boost the local economy, promote interactions and ensure security. The road network is created or refurbished not only for vehicles and public transport, but also for pedestrians and cyclists, and necessary administrative services are offered within walking or cycling distance;
  4. Preserving and developing open spaces – parks, playgrounds, and recreational spaces to enhance the quality of life of citizens, reduce the urban heat effects in Areas and generally promote eco-balance;
  5. Promoting a variety of transport options – Transit-Oriented Development (TOD), public transport and last-mile para-transport connectivity;
  6. Making governance citizen-friendly and cost-effective – increasingly rely on online services to bring about accountability and transparency, especially using mobiles to reduce the cost of services and providing services without having to go to municipal offices. Forming e-groups to listen to people and obtain feedback and use online monitoring of programs and activities with the aid of cyber tour of worksites;
  7. Giving an identity to the city – based on its main economic activity, such as local cuisine, health, education, arts and craft, culture, sports goods, furniture, hosiery, textile, dairy, etc;
  8. Applying Smart Solutions to infrastructure and services in area-based development to make them better.

The core infrastructure elements of Smart City

  • Adequate water supply,
  • Assured electricity supply,
  • Sanitation, including solid waste management,
  • Efficient urban mobility and public transport,
  • Affordable housing, especially for the poor,
  • Robust IT connectivity and digitalization,
  • Good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation,
  • Sustainable environment,
  • Safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly, and
  • Health and education.
Infrastructure elements of smart city

India Government’s focus on Smart City Initiation

In the approach of the Smart Cities Mission, the objective is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and the application of ‘Smart’ Solutions. The focus is on sustainable and inclusive development and the idea is to look at compact areas, create a replicable model that will act like a lighthouse to other aspiring cities. The Smart Cities Mission of the Government is a bold, new initiative. It is meant to set examples that can be replicated both within and outside the Smart City, catalysing the creation of similar Smart Cities in various regions and parts of the country.

The core infrastructure elements in a smart city would include:

  • Adequate water supply,
  • Assured electricity supply,
  • Sanitation, including solid waste management,
  • Efficient urban mobility and public transport,
  • Affordable housing, especially for the poor,
  • Robust IT connectivity and digitalization,
  • Good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation,
  • Sustainable environment,
  • Safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly, and
  • Health and education

Accordingly, the purpose of the Smart Cities Mission is to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life of people by enabling local area development and harnessing technology, especially technology that leads to Smart outcomes. Area Based development will transform existing areas (retrofit and redevelop), including slums, into better planned ones, thereby improving liveability of the whole City. New areas (greenfield) will be developed around cities in order to accommodate the expanding population in urban areas. Application of Smart Solutions will enable cities to use technology, information and data to improve infrastructure and services. Comprehensive development in this way will improve quality of life, create employment and enhance incomes for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged, leading to inclusive Cities.


54% of the world’s population live in cities and this is expected to rise to 66% by 2050, adding a further 2.5 billion people to the urban population over the next three decades. With this expected population growth there comes a need to manage environmental, social and economic sustainability of resources. This becomes increasingly important in the light of the future population growth in urban areas, where more efficient use of infrastructure and assets will be required. Smart city services and applications will allow for these improvements which will lead to a higher quality of life for citizens. Smart city improvements also provide new value from existing infrastructure while creating new revenue streams and operational efficiencies to help save money for governments and citizens alike.

The future of our world is decided by the quality of its future cities; some are age-old, and yet, some are in the offing. Globally, there are about 700 cities, each with a population exceeding 500,000; whereas the top 25 cities of the world today account for half of the world’s wealth. The infrastructure investment for the cities is forecast to be hovering around a figure of circa $30 trillion to $40 trillion, cumulatively, over the next 20 years. It is projected that over 40 global cities will come up as Smart Cities by the year 2020. On the top, the United Nations expects almost doubling of urban population by 2050, while the global population will increase from 7 billion to more than 9 billion. Of course, with the enhancement in the standard of living, quality lifestyle, and increase in the life expectancy there could possibly be some stabilization and dissent.


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