Thought Leadership

Intelligent Urbanization and its relevance for India

Intelligent Urbanization and its relevance for India

Srivalsan Ponnachath, Director, Cisco Services India & SAARC

The world is undergoing a major transition and for the first time in human history, a majority of the people in the world, live in urban areas. Globally, by 2050, at least 100 new cities will have more than a million residents. According to the 2007 UN State of the World Population report, by 2030, 40.76% of India's population would be living in urban areas. Today, over 29% of India's population lives in urban areas. The key reason for this migration to urban areas is the ease of access to key services, such as, healthcare, education, banking, etc.
Developing the infrastructure of these new cities will require trillions of dollars while the resulting environmental impact will be significant. Community leaders are pressed for answers to overcrowding, pollution, budget and resource constraints, inadequate infrastructures, and the need for continuing growth.
While the 20th century cities were built on infrastructure such as roads, and telephones, the contours of new cities of the 21st century are being defined by internet and broadband. This century is about urbanization based on the network as the fourth utility-read, 'Intelligent Urbanization'. Intelligent Urbanization is about leveraging the advancements in communication technologies while developing the blueprint of the urban spaces across the world to make them more livable.
Making the network central to the business strategy of urban planners will help to plan and build better cities. It will facilitate the ability to provide additional services for the citizens over the internet. The network platform will become foundation for the cities of the future. All vital public services such as transportation, utilities, security, entertainment, education, and healthcare are candidates that could leverage the network platform for service delivery. In the foreseeable future, all services, things and entities will be connected, be more intelligent, and green: office buildings, homes, appliances, hospitals, schools etc. Citizens and businesses will enjoy unprecedented levels of collaboration, productivity, and economic growth.

Intelligent Urbanization
Today, we already live in a world where most things are connected. Expanding beyond the consumer and business Internet, we are seeing the emergence of the 'industrial Internet'-where not only traditional devices like PDAs and laptops are connected, but also cars, buildings, power grids, and so on, creating a physical 'Internet of things.' The network is becoming critical to not only businesses and consumers, but also countries. The network is enabling the holistic, intelligent and environmentally sustainable creation and management of cities, industries and public services.
In the future cities that use the network as the platform to plan, build, and manage day-to-day operations will gain significant new efficiencies in every aspect of community administration: enhancing productivity among employees, improving availability and access to public services, and creating new models to generate revenues. By using network connectivity for communication, collaboration, urban planning, and other activities, cities around the world can change the way in which they deliver services to residents, manage the flow of road traffic, operate public transportation, and manage real estate resources.
Using an intelligent IP-based network platform, cities of tomorrow can build integrate one or more services to deliver newer and fuller services. For example, cities can build highly secure, intelligent, multimodal transportation system to foster real-time communications and collaboration while ensuring safety and security. Travel service s, airlines, and hotels can all be integrated on a single IP-based platform promoting a seamless transportation experience. A variety of wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi, WiMAX, and 3G/4G can be enabled in any mode of transport. It will also be possible to integrate workplaces and residential buildings onto a single platform. Emergency and security personnel can get real-time access to information that helps automate detection analysis, coordinate incident response, and facilitate communication to ensure a safer community along with, energy efficient and productive workplaces.
Cities that use the network to accelerate and multiply their infrastructure investments will be those who not only survive challenges but thrive and lead into the future. These cities can transform the quality of life for citizens, drive economic growth and improve services and management. Besides efficiency, IP platforms will bring down the cost of delivery of services significantly. Such intelligent urbanization fosters sustainable growth. It brings together products, services and partners, and uses intelligent networking capabilities to weave together people, services, community assets, and information into a single pervasive solution. This will have a positive impact on the ways in which citizens' work, live, learn and play.
Intelligent urbanization can help to build the foundation to engage citizens of all ages and abilities promote prosperity and attract a new generation of employees. Government agencies can be more connected, and better serve the needs of their people while containing costs. Within connected cities, people can attend yoga or cooking class or access real-time data about their home's energy consumption from the comfort of their living room. Offices can automatically turn on and off employee business applications based on usage and notify of peaking energy use. Communication between doctors and patients can be simplified and be enabled anytime and anywhere. Real-time interactions and collaboration in the learning environment can help to connect students and teachers.
Things like shopping in these cities will begin to include the ability to reserve and pay for a parking spot before leaving home, receive real-time sales incentives on entering any store, or obtain personalized discount coupons. Sports and entertainment can reach a new level with fans being connected with their favorite teams and with each other in entirely new ways.
A city of the future can effortlessly capture the twin goals of sustained economic growth and environmental preservation, by developing policy and infrastructure, while investing capital and talent in intelligent urbanization efforts. The need of the hour is for innovative regional governance strategies and new infrastructure renewal financing models to these cities. Leaders and urban planners need to effectively take into consideration the critical contribution that information and communication technology provides to the solution of urban challenges.

Looking ahead
Given the above, it is clear that technology is a key investment that will determine the future of cities and their infrastructure. Using Information and communications technology (ICT), solutions can be enabled over IP for efficient planning and management of public utilities such as power, water, and transport. This will in turn improve their cost, access, and quality, making cities and communities of the future much more sustainable.
Embracing smart regulation and strategic public private partnerships with technology as an enabler, adds to the benefit. Better planning, foresight and judicious use of technology will help achieve inclusive growth and sustain it.
Increasing broadband penetration and using 'smart broadband' - integrated, fixed, mobile, and Wi-Fi broadband for extending services like primary healthcare, banking and education to the rural population will help to reduce the disparity between rural and urban communities. This in turn will help to reduce migration to the urban areas.

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