How India is using technology to create smarter, safer cities

Andrea Sorri

According to the UN, by 2030 one in every three people globally will be living in cities with at least half a million inhabitants. While the increase in urban populations will not be without its challenges, technology presents the opportunity to create smart, safe environments. With the right systems in place, governments will be able to effectively plan development, reduce crime rates, deliver efficient public transportation and drastically lower energy consumption — to name just a few of the possible benefits.

Smart city investment

The smart city movement is gaining momentum, with governments and private sector stakeholders around the world investing in infrastructure that will contribute to this vision. One of the boldest examples of a national initiative can be found in India’s Smart Cities Mission.

In 2008, Indian cities were already housing an estimated 340 million people. By 2030, that figure is set to rise by over 70% to 590 million. The government has recognised the increasing pressure put on infrastructure and services and has taken action to promote intelligent solutions, drawing inspiration from innovators around the world . A big part of the project is aimed at taking existing areas and applying ‘smart’ thinking to improve them, through retrofitting and redevelopment. It is hoped that these smart city projects will lead to an improved quality of life for citizens, especially the poor and disadvantaged.

Safe cities

With safety and security one of the key worries for urban dwellers it is unsurprising that this is often the first problem to be addressed. The networks installed by authorities to help build a ‘safe city’ have the potential to integrate with solutions beyond their primary remit; for example, security cameras that can be used for traffic management, or for tracking pedestrian flow and informing planning decisions.

This was the approach taken by the municipal government of Bhavnagar, India, that recognized the need for an intelligent approach to city surveillance. Whilst security concerns around the hosting of India’s third largest procession, Jaganath Rath Yatra , acted as a driving force behind the investment, governors recognized the added value to be gained from layering traffic monitoring capabilities on top of surveillance camera data. The cameras have promoted better governance and civic administration, as well as being effective in assisting the police across a range of areas.

A long way to go

As of yet, a handful of cities across the globe can claim to be truly ‘smart’. However, with countries like India starting to sit up and take note of the coming changes in population distribution, more are soon to follow suit.

To read about some of Axis’ involvement in India’s Smart Cities Mission, check out some customer stories from Bhavnagar, Junagadh and Kolhapur. Or to learn more about Axis’ safe cities solutions, click here.