13th JANUARY 2017
Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.
Links are provided for reference. You can also use the Internet fruitfully to further enhance and strengthen your answers
GS III: ECONOMY - INFRASTRUCTURE – SMART CITIES
1. How can smart technology play a critical role in the success of Smart Cities in India? Elucidate.
(Repeat Question from 26th May 2016 Question Bank)
- The Smart Cities Mission in India does not rigidly define a smart city but states that 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 application of ‘Smart’ Solutions.
- With cities getting ‘smarter’ and trends in urban technology catching on, the possibilities for civic growth and development are becoming immense.
- Small gated communities in Bengaluru and even global cities such as Harare, Zimbabwe, and Kansas City, U.S., are working on the Technagara platform, designed by Mapunity, a Bengaluru-based social tech startup, for smart technology-aided urban solutions.
- Technagara integrates urban solutions on a geospatial platform for not just citizens and government agencies but also for businesses, for over 126 cities across the country.
- The city-neutral platform, where data of any city can be hosted to create an app for that city, has attracted global city administrations.
- What makes the platform more interesting is that you can create an app for a city or even a municipal ward or a gated community, turning it hyper-local.
- The platform is designed to host data over nine major domains — from transport to health, and education to environment — for each of the cities.
- With the platform being common to both citizens and government agencies, citizens can report their issues, seek more buses and upload photos of utility inspection reports, among others.
- “Technology should solve larger urban problems and the Indian IT talent should be utilised to solve the problems here, unlike now where most Indian talent is busy servicing foreign firms,” Ashwin Mahesh, founder of Mapunity, said, and added that while the metros have resources to build such tech platforms, tier-II cities would benefit the most from such a city-neutral platform without any expenditure.
Areas of application of technology:
- Apps and well-implemented technology can help cash-strapped governments save money and, be more efficient. There are host of technology applications that can be incorporated in smart cities.
- Open-data initiatives and hackathons, like New York City's BigApps competition, which produce useful and resource-saving apps to improve cities and keep citizens informed. Things like air quality, restaurant sanitation scores, building inspection scores and impending legislation should be readily available for all citizens.
1. Parking apps that show drivers where the nearest available parking spot it. These will save commuters time, gas, emissions and money, while also easing the flow of traffic.
2. Apps that let users "adopt" city property — trash cans, call boxes, trees, fire hydrants, etc. — so the city doesn't have to spend money sending personnel to tend to them. Boston and Honolulu already have something similar in place, through Code for America, and these projects make citizens feel more invested in their neighborhood.
3. High-tech waste management systems. Pay As You Throw (PAYT) garbage disposal would encourage people to recycle more and waste less, while using tools like RFID could improve sorting so recyclable plastic bottles don't end up in landfills.
4. All-digital and easy-to-use parking payment systems — think EZ-pass for parking. We don't want to put receipts on the dashboard or be confined to time limits that make us run out to put more coins in the meter (if you're going to keep money meters, at least let us add money via an app). It's fine that you charge for parking, but improve the system.
5. A city guide app, with information about museums, parks, landmarks, public art, restaurants and real-time traffic data. These apps, like the ones in Baltimore, Ottawa, Charlotte and New Orleans, help citizens and tourists alike improve their experience in the city.
6. Touchscreens around the city — whether it's a kiosk to buy a MetroCard or the TVs in taxis — should be bacteria-resistant.
7. Wi-Fi in subway stations and on trains, along with weather information at every station.
8. Sustainable and energy efficient residential and commercial real estate.
9. App or social media-based emergency alert and crisis response systems — every citizen should have access to vital information. Whether it's an alert about a crime that just happened or advice for a storm approaching the city.
10. Police forces that use real-time data to monitor and prevent crime.
11. More public transit, high-speed trains, and bus rapid transit (BRT) to help citizens traverse the city with speed and low emissions.
12. OLED lights and surveillance in high-crime zones, like the 24/7 system coming to Kolkata
13. Charging stations, like the solar-powered Strawberry Tree in Serbia. They also function as bus stops and Wi-Fi hot spots.
14. Roofs covered with solar panels or gardens. You could even generate solar energy on bike paths, like Amsterdam's SolaRoad.
15. Bike-sharing programs, like in Paris, Washington, D.C., and the ones coming to Los Angeles and New York. And bike parking would be nice, too — maybe even underground and machine-driven, like the Eco Cycle in Japan.
16. A sharing economy, instead of a buying economy. If we share or rent from each other, we each need to buy and store fewer goods — think Rent the Runway, Netflix, Airbnb. On a similar note, there should be apps to help you find charities that actually need the stuff you want to toss, such as Zealous Good in Chicago.
17. Smart climate control systems in homes and businesses, for example, the Nest thermostat.
18. Widespread use of traffic rerouting apps, such as Greenway and Waze. The average person spends 60 hours in traffic each year, according to Greenway; these apps calculate the best route for each driver to speed up traffic flow and reduce CO2 emissions. They also ensure that a traffic jam on one boulevard doesn't just get displaced to another area.
19. Water-recycling systems, because while water covers 70% of the earth, we're not preserving the resource the way we should.
20. Crowdsourced urban planning, like Brickstarter.
21. Broadband Internet access for all citizens — maybe Google Fiber? — which will reduce the digital divide and spur economic growth.
22. Mobile payments. Everywhere. For food, apparel and public transportation.
23. Ride-sharing programs: Because it's a waste of money and gas to have two cars go the same place when neither is filled to capacity.