The smart cities mission in India is poised for a take-off, but serious money is needed to fructify the country’s dream of urban transformation. India would need at least $150 billion in investments to develop smart cities over the next few years, according to a study by Deloitte, the leading Big 4 consulting firm.
Recently, the Indian government unveiled the first 20 smart cities shortlisted under the ‘Smart Cities Mission.’ The government had initially shortlisted 100 cities out of which it has picked the first 20 cities that would be developed under the initiative.
The Deloitte report stressed on the role of the private sector and its contribution to develop these smart cities. The private sector is estimated to contribute $120 billion, according to the report. The government has already allocated $7.5 billion for ‘Smart Cities Mission’. “Even as funding for these smart cities is an area of concern, the major challenges remain with respect to the development of smart cities project management, government decision making and policy and regulatory framework,” Deloitte India’s P. N. Sudarshan said.
The first 20 cities shortlisted under the ‘Smart Cities Mission’ comprise Bhubaneshwar, Pune, Jaipur, Surat, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Jabalpur, Vishakapatnam, Sholapur, Davangere, Indore, New Delhi, Coimbatore, Kakinada, Belagavi, Udaipur, Guwahati, Chennai, Ludhiana and Bhopal. A ‘smart city’ is an urban region that is highly advanced in terms of overall infrastructure, sustainable real estate, communications and market viability.
India has been collaborating with various countries, including the US, France, Germany, Japan and China, to develop smart cities.
“As smart solutions are heavily dependent on ICT, service providers will play a significant role in smart cities. In 2016, service providers will participate in (and lead in many cases) consortiums for responding to RFPs for smart or digital solutions for various city and state governments,” Mr Sudarshan said.
Leading tech giants such as Facebook, Google are collaborating with India to deploy wi-fi connectivity. The smart cities are expected to emerge as key technology, economic, and social hubs over the next few years. India’s leading industrial powerhouse Reliance is also rolling out Wi-Fi services through Reliance Jio in over 50 cities in 2016. Similarly, Bharti and Vodafone are deploying Wi-Fi through a joint venture company.
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