Digitization Steering Smart Cities The government is on the way to substantiate a concrete infrastructure for e-governance through the Digital India Program.

By Harsh Tikku

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Technology is among the recent furors in India while the government sanctioning 98,000 Cr. for transformation of 100 cities in the country to Smart Cities. Living and Lifestyle in these cities will be facilitated by intensive use of information and communication technology (ICT).

The central concept of these cities is centered on improving lifestyle through efficient management of resources without any wastage. The role of digital technology is critical in this transformation, as it provides the best possible solution to monitor the wide array of aspects of city living and amenities, connecting every citizen to policy-making and administration.

The government is on the way to substantiate a concrete infrastructure for e-governance through the Digital India Program. This will be the essential supportive framework for success of smart city implementation in the country.

Digital India platform will be the base of connectivity between the diverse authorities, public bodies, private entities and other players in the scenario. The vision of the program is to empower the society through digital means and to drive knowledge economy the country.

The program will act as the backbone of information sharing and connectivity in Smart Cities. It will render an effectual impetus to shape up a healthy and aware society. It will facilitate, people's participation in governance and administrative programs, inducing growth in human and social capital.

The rollout of Digital India Program and emerging development of smart cities is a visionary step, the synergy of which will break in through the number of issues in urban development.

As digital India is centered on providing utility to citizens, offering on demand services and digital empowerment, the program will be the nexus of public services, public service providers and the public. On the other hand, digital technology being the central avenue to access services and government amenities, Digital India's role will be consequential in successful implementation of smart cities.

Urban Sprawl, Transportation, distribution of public amenities and waste management has been the critical aspects of urban management in India. Insightful use of digital technology will assist to solve these issues and promote a healthy society in smart cities.

Urban sprawl is pertinent due to lack of connectivity and services in cloistered location. On the other hand, lack of monitoring in locations across cities adds to uncertainty and misinformation in government data. This in return, weakens administration in such areas depriving people from amenities and services.

Such situations awake the plethora of critical social and economic problems such as poverty, substance abuse and crime. Through digital aids, connectivity in such clusters can be enhanced improving monitoring and hence government services.

The issue of transportation arises due to unplanned development of urban locales and unorganized service providers. Smart cities around the world such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam have successfully implemented innovative services such as Bicycle as mode of public transportation.

Moreover, mobile apps and web-enabled services are being used for real time updates about timings and schedules of bus services. Digital technology can be leveraged as the one stop solution for address the lacunae in distribution of public services.

Resource utilization and distribution monitored through digital devices will make management more effective. Comprehensive management will enable to reduce wastage and offer better services to citizens.

Here again, Digital India emerges as the platform that has the potential to transform the entire ecosystem of public services, offering the common connecting link between citizens and authorities.

Use of digital technologies in administration, regulation, financing, planning and operations at smart cities will improve the grip of government in governance. Meanwhile, paving the way for digital living, it will support a sustainable environment.

Technology will enable real time evaluation of public life in these cities, which will increase safety and security and reduce crime. Devices such as Camera, Smart Meters and Mobile Applications and Cloud Services will provide comprehensive solutions to solve the issues of urbanization.

A strong security infrastructure is essential to ensure a healthy and secure ICT platform. Digitization will play the pivotal role to fast forward Smart Cities. However, the current IT landscape of India is tainted with a weak security infrastructure and issues such as cyber crime may grow out to be a major impasse.

The government should emphasize on to devise solutions to such enigmas beforehand. As programs such as Digital India is going mainstream, it will also bring forth the threats of attracts, if implemented with vulnerabilities.

A country such as India is certainly not in a position to withstand massive attacks in internet domain as of now, even if it the hacker's community of the country proves their existence globally every now and then.

In fact, digital aspect in Smart Cities is only one among other imperatives such as Renewable Energy, Sustainable Environment and the intrinsic correlation between social life and urban planning.

It must be realized that only technology cannot be the "Magic Wand" to solve the intricate socio economic issues. Smart cities must be materialized by equating the array of critical aspects of society, human development and their relations with technology.

Harsh Tikku

Director, SoftAge

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