Smart Cities: The Way Ahead For India
Urbanization in India has picked pace in recent years, owing to increased economic growth and expanding markets. Needless to say, this is making it crucial for leaders and technocrats to seek better and more efficient ways to accommodate citizens. The 100 Smart Cities is one of the most promising projects by the Indian government, albeit with its share of challenges and opportunities. In an exclusive interaction with CXOtoday, Paul Coates, Vice President, Channels, Asia Pacific and Japan, Riverbed Technology, explains what it takes to convert India’s Smart Cities project into a reality. Excerpt.
What will it take to convert the 100 Smart Cities project into a reality?
In its bid to transform the country’s urban landscape, 100 smart cities is one of the most promising projects by the Indian government. Information and communications technology solutions have inevitably emerged as key tools required for the transformation. The use of integrated technology platforms that are easily accessible across various devices is certainly crucial to provide access, transparency, speed and participation in public services.
As technocrats plan new information highways for citizens across the country to access government data and their records, this optimism is tinged with questions about the scale and complexity of these projects. Performance is a key consideration. Not just of the networks but of the applications themselves. Millions of devices are expected to access government networks within a few years, and applications will need to perform exponentially more efficiently for these services to deliver on their promise. Superior application performance will play a pivotal role, as government departments will rely on applications such as email, financial tools, ERP systems and collaboration platforms to deliver critical citizen services.
As the Government moves its services to the cloud and consolidates IT resources, what do you think their move should be?
With the government going digital, data will be traveling farther distances across networks to reach those who rely on those applications and information to do their jobs. In this way, having the tools that provide end-to-end visibility across applications and networks will become even more critical, as it is the only way to quickly detect and fix application performance issues. Therefore, the Government should consider sound investments in the human and technological resources to manage networks and applications to drive a seamless end-user experience.
How can we improve various sectors like education and healthcare by transforming a normal city into a Smart City?
Education and Healthcare-focused initiatives under Digital India like Digital Locker, E-education, E-health and National Scholarship Portal will play a particularly significant role in helping to transform the country into a digitally empowered knowledge economy. If executed effectively, citizens in even the most rural communities in India could receive access to medication at their doorstep. Medical histories could be tracked, recorded and shared with a qualified specialist at a medical facility hundreds of miles away for diagnosis. Students would have access to virtual learning opportunities and the most up-to-date training courses – whether they live in Tier 3 city or a Tier 1.
What are the success factors on which the initiative depends?
The success of an initiatives depends largely on three factors:
1) The creation and maintenance of effective digital services
2) The ability to deliver those services to the masses via internet connectivity, and
3) The ability to ensure that those services – or applications - perform as expected, data is always available when needed, and performance issues are detected and fixed before end users even notice.
What according to you the Government should do to woo investors to the proposed Smart Cities project?
The primary drivers of investing in smart cities globally have been to increase innovation, foster economic growth, gain access to new markets and exchange new knowledge and skills. The investment trend has been with an eye on rapidly urbanizing cities, like Singapore and Songdo City, Korea – a challenge also faced in Indian metro cities. Making policies transparent and predictable, making procedures clearly defined and smooth, and fostering increased market access and partnerships are key factors in attracting investments to projects like this.
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