The event kicked off in Mumbai on February 10, 2016 at Vivanta by Taj, Mumbai in the wake of the Government´s announcement of the first 20 cities selected for the Smart Cities Mission. It was organised by Smart Cities Council India
It was a day-long event that witnessed participation from over 70 distinguished speakers and a high-powered, 50-member Smart Cities Trade Mission led by Bruce Andrews, Deputy Secretary, US Department of Commerce. More than 40 mayors, commissioners and urban officials from India interacted with over 300 delegates who attended the event. Parallel B2B sessions ensured a productive outcome for both participants and local government officials interested in adopting innovative technologies for their respective cities.
The proceedings began with Pratap Padode, Founder & Director, Smart Cities Council India, welcoming everybody and laying emphasis on GÇ£the mandatory engagement of citizens´ as a key element of the smart cities mission.
While Bruce Andrews was in India to help facilitate business partnerships between both countries, in his special address he encouraged delegates to interact with the 18 US companies present at the event. He said that the US was pleased with the recommendations of the Kelkar Committee report and looked forward to its implementation. He also highlighted the importance of protecting intellectual property rights and exhorted India to deepen its capital markets.
Further, Philip Bane, Executive Director, US Smart Cities Council, highlighted the work of the council and launched the India Readiness Guide along with Padode and a host of other dignitaries on stage.
Leocadia Zak, Director, United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), highlighted the work done by the trade body and averred that the US has the best solutions for India´s smart city projects.
Praveen Pardeshi, Principal Secretary, Government of Maharashtra, said the private sector and Government need to deliberate upon the matter and restructure certain areas.
Renato de Castro, an international expert on smart cities and Executive Director at Baumann Consultancy Network (Italy), laid stress on the importance of technology and collaboration. He picked out Singapore and St Louis as the best examples of smart cities and Rio de Janeiro for smart mobility.
A panel on ´Financing for Smart Cities´ discussed the need for projects to be bankable to ensure the economic viability of infrastructure projects. Nevertheless, the panel accepted that the special purpose vehicle (SPV) structure envisaged for the smart cities inspires confidence. It saw the need for a new set of investors for long-term infra projects.
In the session, ´Technological Challenges´, the panellists unanimously agreed upon the use of best technology available, but with a domestic flavour to it. Meanwhile, the session was divided among two groups; while one faction was eager to imply standardised technologies, another preferred regularisation. The tech wizards also felt the need for technology-based infrastructure, a global mantra these days.
The session on ´Rethinking Mobility´ discussed the designing of BRTS, smart parking for growing parking congestion, car pooling and transport planning. It was recommended that the Government rethink the age-old Motor Act, owing to which innovations such as car pooling have not been successful.
The session on ´Water Management´ deliberated upon drinking water for all and harvesting rainwater for better use. The panellists agreed that a holistic approach is required to handle water. Further, for better analytics, electricity, water and gas demand or supply would be important parameters of a smart meter. They analysed why certain cities grow and others are left behind. They saw employment, personal wealth and tax structure as primary reasons for a city to proceed on the path to development.
The session ´Energy Efficiency´ focused on LED, smart street lighting, integrated BMS, renewable energy and energy storage. The panel pointed to energy as a key factor in the ´smart´ mix. They urged on the need to eliminate fossil fuels to generate electricity and reduce T&D losses by smart monitoring. They also emphasised upon the need to analyse the pattern of electricity consumption to make storage more efficient, and for buildings under construction to ensure zero wastage of energy by using proper insulation and natural lighting.
The session ´Smart Planning for Cities´ focused on preparing master plans, including smart yet sustainable elements in planning, and Greenfield vs. Brownfield development. The panellists shared that a smart, sustainable city should bring together natural environment, services, and soft and hard infrastructure. They laid emphasis on the need for urban planning solutions to be area-specific and threw light on issues such as space for hawkers and parking, which need to be addressed in urban planning. They also suggested three things to be kept in mind in master planning: Demand facility, transit-oriented facility and financial planning. It was agreed that quality of life and business need to go together for a smart city.
The session ´Ambition Zero Waste´ focused on waste management technology and the Government´s mission vs. public response. The discussion started with stats on municipal waste generated and treated. As the panellists pointed out, landfills have become land hills owing to waste. They highlighted the need for a regulatory framework to gather the lifecycle of various waste products and ascertain how much of it can be recycled. Considering India will generate 10 million metric tonne by 2020, the T3 model of transport, training and technology was suggested for developing waste.
The need for an army of waste managers and a systematic chain of waste management for smart cities was noted.
It was undoubtedly an enriching day with power-packed sessions, discussions and a platform for universal networking.