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Smart cities need smart urban governance

By Raina Singh, Associate Fellow, Cities and Transport, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)

The Ministry of Urban Development launched the Smart Cities Mission on 25 June 2015 with the aim of promoting cities that provide core infrastructure, give a quality of life to citizens and offer a clean and sustainable environment through the application of ‘smart’ solutions. The mission is an ambitious flagship scheme of the Indian Government with US$7.5 billion earmarked for investment across 100 cities over a period of five years. A city challenge was floated wherein cities were asked to submit their smart city proposals to receive funding under the mission. Based on their proposals, the top 20 scoring cities would be selected for Round 1 implementation and the next 80 in Round 2 and Round 3 subsequently.

Raina Singh, Associate Fellow, Cities and Transport, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)
Photo: Kartikeya Kaul

The Round 1 submission process was completed on 15 December, 2015 and for the first time saw an extensive participatory planning approach at the city level across the country. Although there has always been a stage of ‘public objections and suggestions’ in the traditional master planning process in Indian cities, anything beyond that was considered unviable, extraneous and time consuming by planners and policy makers. The Smart Cities Challenge saw cities come up with proposals within a period of approximately 100 days and use multiple innovative ways and means for citizen engagement. These included public campaigns on the streets and through electronic, print and social media platforms. The engagement process also witnessed extensive enthusiasm and participation with citizens coming up with detailed suggestions for realising their smart city vision. Numerous ideas were submitted throughout the proposal preparation process on discussion forums and social media pages of city governments, and the government portal–

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Cities without borders How mayors are taking the lead on the migrant crisis - The new role of insurers in resilience planning - Which city will be first to carbon neutrality? -The need for global standards on urban data Cities Today is the only global magazine containing analysis, comment and best practices on sustainable urban development, connecting local governments with public and private sector solutions. With an expert editorial advisory board comprising the World Bank, UN-Habitat, UNEP, and city associations ICLEI, C40, UCLG ASPAC, UCLG Africa, UCLG MEWA, Sister Cities International and FLACMA, the publication highlights the challenges facing city leaders and local governments in mobility, finance, smart technology, health care, energy efficiency, water, sanitation, security and housing

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