Strategies To Create A Self-sustainable Smart City
Traditionally, we keep our homes neat, clean, beautiful and smart. No one else can make our homes better than we ourselves. The same applies to cities as well. Essentially, your City is your Home. Surprised? Let me explain. You spend more than 16 hours out of your house daily and only around 8 hours in the house. Therefore, you actually live more in the City and less in your Home. So naturally, your city is your home.
Continuous improvement in infrastructure is the need of every city. As population escalates, challenges of cities also increase and thus, continuous improvement becomes a mandatory process for every city. Now, technology companies have started developing and applying technical solutions to address urban challenges and this concept has been given the title of ‘Smart City’. These companies have started focusing on developing solutions to make the life of citizens better. This is a noble job. However, all said and done the current way in which the Smart City project is going is really not going to make cities smart.
According to the existing model of Smart City Mission, the Central government, State government and Local City Corporation is going to do a fixed investment. It is okay if all cities get funds but, if they don’t have the provision of funds, they will generate money by raising taxes or they may resort to a PPP model. The current model is a completely capital expenditure project where all respective bodies will have to make a certain investment over a period of time. Everything sounds good till this point. But, what about sustainability? Who will invest after that? Who will fund for the expansion of these projects? Will these projects be scrapped in the future due to non-provision of funds? Historically, not more than 50% funds of government projects are utilized in the right way. Also, what is the role of Citizens in the Smart City projects? Can any project be successful without the inclusion of citizens? The answer is ‘No’. No city can get smarter if it is not made smarter by its citizens. A major flaw in the current Smart City model is non-involvement of citizens. What is the solution then?
The solutions is simple. Let’s make our city Smart ourselves. The government should implement job enablement and encourage people to make their city Smart. The government should play the leadership role instead of playing the customer for Smart City projects. And how can this be accomplished? The government should call up on local entrepreneurs asking them to create a business model for any one or more elements of Smart City. There should be a bidding process for better self-sustainable business models created by various entrepreneurs. Then the government should choose an entrepreneur based on projected performance outcome which should include return of investment in next five or seven years. Once the entrepreneur is chosen for an Smart City element, the government should help them in following ways:
- Help them get access to advance technology for that particular Smart City element if required. Currently, in most Smart Cities, capex investment is being done for Smart City Platforms. Rather than this, the government can do empanelment of Service Providers who provide Smart City Platform as Service on Cloud. This will help the government reduce their overall upfront investment. Also, since this will be based on pay-per-consume model, it will be helpful to pay only for the required Smart City elements instead of paying for full Smart City Platform.
- Help get legislation changes done if required for that particular Smart City element.
- Fund the entrepreneur for a minimum of five to seven years with low interest rates or making a provision to fund them and getting assurance to receive returns of minimum 10% per annum from their business model.
- Help entrepreneurs get power and land if required.
- Hold educational programmes across the city for that Smart City element so that people can align their culture with the element and start making use of it in the right direction. These educational programmes should be planned with the help of local institutions and bodies.
- Periodically monitor Smart City element business, take feedback and help improve it.
- Set up educational courses (short/long term) for Smart City entrepreneurship, operations and maintenance or any other aspect.
- Develop incubation centers across the city for research of Smart City elements and for the advancement of those elements.
How will this help?
- It will create entrepreneurs whose business as well as moral responsibility will be to take care of Smart City elements. For example, if we consider Smart Parking as one of the Smart City elements then this entrepreneur will be accountable for making parking operations smooth across the city. By doing this, the government is not only directly appointing one entrepreneur to take care of Smart Parking but it is also creating jobs across the city for its citizens through the Smart Parking initiative.
- Supporting educational model will create new opportunities for employment for the upcoming generation in Smart Parking solution.
- Incubation center will create an ecosystem for research and innovation for Smart Parking across the city.
- Educational programmes will ‘involve’ people into the process of making the city smarter. This will also help develop an ownership attitude among the citizens.
- After five or seven years of implementing the business model, the government will start getting returns on their invested funds. These funds can be further invested by the government for another Smart City element, which will create another ecosystem of another Smart City element.
Once this entire process is repeated for each Smart City element, a self-sustainable business model will be created for local entrepreneurs along with jobs and their moral responsibility will be to make the City Smarter. In this process, the government is not directly making the City Smarter by allocating projects but creating a bionetwork and involving local people into the process of making the City Smart with education, business and moral accountability. Visit www.esds.co.in for innovative and excellent Smart City Solutions.