This is the right perspective!!

January 5, 2015


The Narendra Modi-led BJP government wants to create 100 smart cities, and every country is falling over itself to be a part of this opportunity. First of all, the government will not ‘create’ these cities. The state governments have been asked to recommend a list of cities that they want to be converted into ‘smart cities’.
The ministry of urban development has already started working on the details of how these smart cities will work. The trouble is that ‘smart city’ is a marketing concept, first created by technology companies wanting to sell their sensors, software and hardware. Also, the definition of a smart city is very vague and the government does not seem to be making any effort in clarifying it. Thirdly, it does not really capture what inhabitants in crowded, populous and rapidly expanding cities need.
Why is a definition so important if the government means well. It is important as Adam Greenfield, fellow at LSE Cities, says: “It is worth thinking carefully as it is a $114 billion or Rs 7 lakh crore issue.” This is what these cities will need over a 20-year period, according to a government committee estimate. Greenfield has been arguing against the concept of a smart city for a long time, and has even written a book on the issue.
What do we need?
City-dwellers need cities which are liveable. Whether they are smart or intelligent will not really matter as quality of life is something which is most important. It is also deteriorating the fastest in Indian cities. Whether they generate data about mobility, urban land use, and governance is important, but it is not the sole purpose for upgrading these cities.
The concept of liveable cities has lately been getting acceptance in Europe as city planners and citizens have started working together. It is linked to physical forms like parks and green spaces. For others, it is about the cultural milieu that the city can provide. A liveable city is not possible if does not offer career opportunities to succeed; it needs to have economic dynamism. This is possible if it also offers reasonable safety within which to raise a family.
From a planning perspective, liveability is linked to sustainability as it is to consumer resources like food, water, energy and air. And it generates carbon and other gases along with waste in enormous quantity. This determines the spatial spread of the city as distribution system for supplying a city with food and power travel distances. For example, take a city like Indore which is growing rapidly, but has no natural water resource. It is pumped into the city from 60 km away. On an average, electricity transmission travels 200 miles and food travels 1,200 miles in the US, according to a Weber and Matthews study on the impact of cities.
These consumption patterns arising out of location increase the energy consumption requirement for a city, especially in a country like India, where due to paucity of power, 20 gigawatt is generated using liquid fuel. This includes diesel engines used to generate power or pulling out water from deep aquifers. This is not sustainable and unfortunately, not even part of the discussion on smart cities.
One of the principles behind a liveable city is that it is not based on fossil fuels or commuting as a way of life. Planning such a city means that the local government uses a thumb rule that every citizen can walk for his basic requirement. Education for children, parks or open spaces for leisure and play, basic health care, and entertainment are all within walking distance.
The current model of city planning is based on an outdated Le Corbusier concept that the city needs to be flat. Indian planners still believe that Chandigarh is the best city as it was planned by Corbusier, but it is not a smart city because you need a car to live in such a city. And dependence on a car means depending upon fast-depleting fossil fuels; it means commute as a part of daily life.
While small initiatives like Raahgiri are catching people’s attention as they reclaim the streets from cars for a few hours every week, what if it was part of a city’s design? That the streets belonged to people, and not to cars? A fundamental shift in even the way permissions are given for development and integration of public transportation has to be part of city planning. Then only can a city be livable; it has to be embedded in its planning and not in its sensors.
Now, the bigger issue here is that none of the smart cities are new; the government is looking at reinventing existing cities into smart ones. For instance, Ujjain, one of the cities to be built as a smart city, is a sleepy, religious tourism-dependent city in Madhya Pradesh. Where will the policymakers start from? Will they change the nature of the city, will they build on existing economic drivers of the city? One of the purposes of building a smart city is to attract people to live there, and people will go where there are opportunities. The softer aspect of a city that invites diversity also encourages creativity and sustainability in the long run as several studies like this from Harvard have shown.
Therefore, it will be smarter if we build or focus on liveable cities rather than smart ones.


December 10, 2014

In a modern busy metropolis, traffic congestion is a major hurdle in our journey to create a Smart City that everyone is talking about. A congestion management plan must take into consideration all relevant factors like the ever-exploding vehicle population on the road, geometry of the city roads, travel needs of citizens, and the needs of various administering authorities having jurisdiction in parts or whole of the city.

No single approach can be best-suited for managing congestion. In event of mismatch or clash of jurisdictions, divergent or conflicting visions of the decision-making authorities, or ideological differences between and the availability and conditioning of external funds, a consensus-based approach scores over the conventional vision or plan-based approach, effective stakeholder-collaboration often delivers.

It is important to bear in mind that a consensus-based approach often leads to delay and inaction unless such consensus can be reached quickly and in a sustainable manner. By contrast, a plan-based approach is heavily dependent on professional planners, and the needs of some stakeholders including bureaucrats and politicians could have been missed or ignored. This approach is also subjective in that the absence from the office of the person with the vision could derail the process altogether.

A key enabler in a consensus-based approach is the formulation of the strategy through consensus, commitment and public support for a better understanding of congestion problems, and must lead to creation of innovative solutions with public support and acceptability. Taking concerns and objections of the public into account early in the implementation phase often proves cost-effective in the long run. Such an approach can effectively stem breakdowns in the process.
To be honest to ourselves, we must accept that there are no “miracle” solutions – long-term congestion outcomes will only be delivered through a well-framed process that addresses congestion in all its aspects at the metropolitan level in ways that include:
• Understanding what congestion is and how it affects the urban region.
• Developing and monitoring relevant congestion indicators.
• Releasing existing capacity or creating additional capacity using new infrastructure
• Managing demand for road and parking space consistent with a shared vision on how the city should develop.

The success or failure that cities experience in tackling congestion will ultimately depend on how well they organize themselves to carry out the task they set for themselves. The ability of policy makers and their collaborators to define correct objectives is thus fundamental for congestion management, and is a critical stepping stone for achieving a Smart City status

By Sudipto Chakarvaty

TRAFFIC CONGESTION : A Road-User Perspective

December 10, 2014

These days, everyone is talking about creation of Smart Cities. So what has this got to do with traffic congestion on roads? A “Smart City” promises its citizens a very high quality of life by planned usage of resources – physical infrastructure included – to create an eco-system of sustainable economic development, living, governance, mobility, environment, and so on. Towards this objective, a Smart City is expected to deploy automated controls to achieve this. Smart transportation is a key enabler for enhanced mobility in Smart Cities.

How often have you got stuck in traffic while travelling to catch a flight, train, to get emergency medical assistance or to attend to that urgent meeting or for an interview? Something that each one of us in cities experience frequently, and are not too pleased doing so!

The feelings of the hapless traveler in such situations would most likely be something like:
 Ugh ! Why so many vehicles on the road ? Can’t this be controlled?
 Why can’t we have wider and/or enough alternative roads for smooth travel?
 These slow moving vehicles should keep off the main roads
 Could the police not tame these reckless drivers ?
 Parking on the roads is a curse !
 Shops and other encroachments on roads are eating away the road space and so on
Such situations do reflect the utter chaos faced during busy traffic hours, and scream for something to be urgently done to mitigate the road users’ travails. For only then would the dreams of achieving a “Smart City” status for our cities be realized.

From a road user perspective, managing such situation requires either reduction of vehicular traffic volumes or freeing up available space on the road. One would readily conclude that this approach would lead us to the much-needed salvation from the demon called “congestion”.

A closer view of this perception, while endorsing it prima facie, calls for a deep introspection and brings a none-too-easy “to do” tasks. A sample wish list would include, but not be limited to:
 Restrict the number of new vehicles that hit the city roads daily
 Enforce parking space availability for people buying cars
 Strictly handle the menace of haphazard parking on roads
 Create more parking space – even using multi-storeyed and/or underground structures
 Make public transport available, safe, frequent, affordable
 Discourage use of personal vehicles by levying hefty taxes
 Plan business and work areas (office/factory/etc.) to minimize travel
 Encourage car-pooling (incentives, tax exemptions, concessional parking charges, etc.)

The Author-Mr Sudipto chakravarty

Stalled road projects get policy push

October 28, 2014

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Roads infrastructure is at murky stage with current logjams in projects. It is a tough road ahead for the newly-formed government as it has to put in place correct policies and reforms to ease the situation.Road sector is crucial for economic growth. Realizing this, the BJP-led government is giving priority to development of road transportation.Business leaders attribute the slack in this sector to lack of political will,which didn’t allow policies to take off in recent past.

The Indian road sector continues to face multiple challenges this financial year with high interest rates, sluggishness in awarding road contracts, reduced availability of funds, slowdown in execution, and increased competitive intensity.However, many projects awarded over the last one year are hanging ire because of delay in land acquisition, clearances, and financial closure.Expectations are fairly high from the Narendra Modi-led government, which won a clear majority in the elections. After a few days of becoming Prime Minister, he said, “A nation that gives impetus to infrastructure, be it roads, rail,airport, that is where chances of development increase. We have to take ownership to build a strong nation.” Business sentiments are improving and corrective actions are being taken to lift the sector from the prolonged sluggishness.

The public-private-partnership (PPP) model of awarding road projects has proved to be a complete failure in India, leading to a dip in road construction to a mere 3 km a day. Challenges are many – overall economic downturn, lack of equity in the market, difficulty in arranging debt, highly-leveraged balance sheets for highways developers and land acquisition, approval and clearance- related issues. Blaming the UPA regime for the present situation, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said the previous government awarded projects without acquiring even 10 per cent of land, which resulted in delays and cost overruns. In a major policy shift, the NDA government has decided to implement projects on Engineering Procurement and Construction(EPC) mode.

At present, 437 projects, entailing an investment of around `21 lakh crore, are delayed due to various issues across infrastructure sector.

Around 260 road projects worth`60,000 crore are stuck, owing to clearances and approvals. All efforts are being made to club road transport and railway ministries for faster implementation of projects. Also in an important decision, the process of clearing road bridges has been simplified with online application. The NHAI would bear construction and maintenance costs of the projects. Some of the decisions are:

▪      MoEF to allow state governments to give permission for sand mining up to 20 hectare as against the existing norm of 5 hectare

▪      State government and regional office MoEF will be allowed to clear linear projects, involving forest land up to 40 hectare

▪      National Board of Wild Life approves projects, falling within 5-10 km radius of various sanctuaries

▪      Railways to standardize ROB & RUB designs & to put the mechanism online

The NHAI board has given in principle approval for creation of a body, Asset Reconstruction Company, which would try to make stalled and non-commercially viable projects feasible. Indian Banker’s Association has already given its consent as most of the roads are turning non- performing assets (NPA). The entity would have two options: Either to take over an entire project, according to the clause of the concession agreement, or complete a small portion of the delayed work. This is a welcome move as it will help improve the situation in the cash-starved sector. There are numerous disputes, involving arbitration cases amounting to `26,556 crore investments between developers and NHAI. The NHAI has so far settled `10,550-crore projects with concessionaires. At least 49 pending claims, involving 26 contractors, has been cleared.


For ending corruption, the Amendment in Motor Vehicle Act is proposed in next session of parliament. Some of these changes would be based on best practices of the world like e-governance. The RTOs would be linked to e-governance to bring transparency in the system, plagued by malpractices.

The government would have to work on a policy framework to assure at least 16 per cent internal rate of return for infrastructure projects. This would safeguard developers from foreign exchange fluctuations and boost investment in the sector.India has to soon embark on the next wave of economic growth, which will encompass some fundamental shifts in growth model as well as larger and bigger social reach to beneit its vast population. Being one of the fastest growing economies of the world requires physical infrastructure facilities to continue the pace of development process. The new government at the Centre has to build and expand its key infrastructure to global standards and road sector plays an important role in it.



Prerna Singh :,Sr.Analyst, Roads Infrastructure,InfralinEnergy



L&T Technology Services bets on smart machines

October 8, 2014

Mumbai: L&T Technology Services, a unit of India’s largest engineering and construction company Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T), is betting on smart and connected machines in the belief that analytics and the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) will shape the future of engineering. The firm that offers solutions for product design, prototyping and testing and embedded system design, among others, partnered US-based Proximetry, Inc., an IOT device management solutions provider, in January, to cater to the market of connected devices that are critical when operating electrical substations and large industrial facilities.

On 25 September, it announced a tie-up with Cisco Systems, Inc. to jointly invest in a global solution centre in Bangalore to work on connectivity and convergence-based solutions. “We are starting with 3-4 projects in the transportation sector, and are in the process of building the team. Some of the work has been demonstrated in the past in L&T. The idea is to explore how we can work with engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies to make railways, metros, and other mass transit modes more productive, intelligent and safe with the help of Internet protocol (IP)-based communications, Wi-Fi services, video surveillance, and automated operations,” Keshab Panda, chief executive of L&T Technology Services, said in an interview. Cisco’s connected transportation solutions aim at providing a centralized view of highway systems, enabling vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X) communication so that automobiles can “talk” to each other and with traffic lights, roads, toll plazas, rail crossings and roadside cameras. The solutions also envisage real-time alerts on weather, traffic, and emergencies besides providing greater collaboration between emergency and transit operators and agencies. L&T Technology Services, said Panda, also hopes to take advantage of L&T’s strength in the transportation infrastructure and rail transportation sectors, before “expanding to other areas such as manufacturing, defence, and the off-highway transport segment”.

L&T Technology Services, known as L&T Integrated Engineering Services (IES) till it was rebranded in September 2012, has about 9,500 employees and had revenue of about Rs.2,150 crore in the year ended 31 March, according to Panda. “By the end of this fiscal (2014-15), we will become a $450 million (about Rs.2,750 crore) turnover company,” said Panda, adding that the company gets only 3-4% of its revenue from L&T, and over 50% from the Americas, little over 20% from Europe, and the remaining portion, from the rest of the world. The company, said Panda, also plans to make small acquisitions. In June, L&T Technology Services acquired a 74% stake in Thales Software India Pvt. Ltd for an undisclosed sum to expand its avionics business. “In the next 15 days, we will acquire a US-based analytical and manufacturing engineering company that has operations in India. But we won’t be spending more than $50 million on any acquisition,” Panda said. In a 11 June interview, L&T executive chairman A.M. Naik had said the initial public offering (IPO) process for L&T Infotech and L&T Technology Services will start in July 2016. Naik had then also spoken about “…small-ticket acquisitions of around $30-40 million for its engineering services company”. Analysts see a lucrative business opportunity in technologies that enable devices to communicate with each other. In a 16 September note, research firm Gartner Inc. forecast that the installed base of “things”, excluding personal computers, tablets and smartphones, will grow to 26 billion units in 2020, adding there will be a $309 billion incremental revenue opportunity in 2020 for IOT suppliers from delivering products and services.

Software lobby group Nasscom expects the engineering and research and development (R&D) outsourcing industry in India to touch $40 billion by 2020 from the current $10-11 billion mark with automotive, telecom, retail and aerospace industries expected to outsource 40% of their engineering activities to engineering service providers by 2020. But the competition is stiff, too. Big- and mid-sized Indian IT services providers like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys Ltd, HCL Technologies Ltd, Wipro Ltd, Tech Mahindra Ltd, KPIT Technologies Ltd and Tata Technologies Ltd also have big clients in the engineering vertical, and partner with networking companies to provide similar solutions that take advantage of technologies like M2M or Machine-to-Machine (where information is collected by a sensor transmitted across a network of wired or wireless devices), and smart meters—that monitor consumption and use analytics.

The fact remains, though, that the engineering services segment is at “an inflection point with significant shifts in business models, increased demand for solutions and globalization driving up the competition amongst global players”, as noted in the ‘Global R&D Service Providers Rating 2013’ annual study by advisory firm Zinnov Management Consulting.This should alert engineering service providers, said the study, to look at opportunities such as “engineering analytics” since global companies are expected to spend over $27 billion on engineering analytics. Panda believes data analytics in engineering is far more complex than it is in the retail sector. “You have to account for factors like current, voltage, harmonics, etc., and know how to fix it,” he explained, concluding that the success of IOT-enabled sensors lie in reducing their cost, “something that we’re working on”.

Source:live mint

Are India’s ‘Smart Cities’ a Smart Move?

October 6, 2014

May 16, 2014 is now a historic day for democratic India, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s coalition winning an overwhelming majority. It sparked nationwide optimism, with a growing GDP, the Sensex rising over 10 percent in 4 months, and the hope of acche din (good days) for the Indian economy. As a part of the budget, the finance minister, Arun Jaitley, has promised numerous projects for this term, including the creation of 100 smart cities – or cities with sophisticated IT features.

This grandiose pledge had been envisioned by Modi as a part of the achhe din campaign from the outset. More than 7000 crore ($1.13 billion) has been allocated to the endeavor, or 70 crore per city. Insisting this was to be the seed money, the government pledged additional investments in due course. The concept is based on ecologically friendly urban settlements that exploit technology to offer a more structured living environment. Such cities would have a centralized control system that provides real-time data on the availability of water, electricity, education, public transportation and sanitation: the basic modern-day needs.

All of which begs a question: Are smart cities really important? The project’s aim is “housing for all,” and that is possible only through affordable housing. Much like other developing nations, India has high levels of rural-urban migration – the country is expected to have an urban population of 530 million by 2030, up from 390 million in 2008. Given the fast pace of development, better living standards are being sought by those with lower incomes, and a new middle class is emerging. Official data show that approximately 269 million people in India are still below the poverty line, but millions are moving out of poverty every year. It is for this rising class that the need for better living standards arises. To accommodate this growing and increasingly mobile populace, it is imperative that a sustainable model of housing be developed. But are smart cities the answer? Certainly, in theory the idea sounds very appealing. In practice, it is much less certain and the answer won’t be known until India actually builds some. India has already taken serious steps to turn certain cities into smart cities. International assistance has been sought from Singapore and Japan, among others. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between India and Japan to develop Varanasi into a smart city based on the experience of its Japanese counterpart – Kyoto.

It will be important to see what India is getting into, rather than becoming overwhelmed with the idea. The smart city concept implies an oversimplified vision of technology. It is based on the belief that technology can solve any problem without fundamentally changing lifestyles. However, can India’s problems actually be simplified to the point that they can be controlled by a large set of data points? Does this mean that the current problems are not social, but technological? Given a country as diverse as India, can the heterogeneity of its cities be accommodated in a linear vision backed by technology? These questions will be worth considering as the project proceeds. The concept, though, is immensely appealing: India is truly considered a symbol of “unity in diversity,” and this time the unity can be brought under the surmounting umbrella of technology.

The radical shift India is experiencing lifestyles and the attendant demands for a better standard of living could be answered by the concept of smart cities. The age of digitization is upon us, and it seems that sooner or later people will have to turn to technology to answer many of their problems. In Modi’s first 100 days as prime minister, a lot has been done; however, it is a short period to deliver something concrete on the technology front. Still, he has made a significant imprint with his tech-enabled beginning, and it may someday bear fruit.

In this era of digitization, it is interesting to see the nation’s leader envision such a future. On paper, the initiative seems to be an ideal plan for the poverty stricken economy, but given the high levels of bureaucracy, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. The move is very much in the right direction; execution, however, will be key.


Source:The Diplomat

AP may get only 4 smart cities

October 6, 2014

The tall claims of the Andhra Pradesh government notwithstanding, the state may not get more than four smart cities.

The state government had recently proposed to develop 14 smart cities and three mega cities in the hope that the Centre will fund the project. But sources said that this was unlikely and that smart cities may come up only in Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati and Nellore. Incidentally, the former three are the ones that chief minister Chandrababu Naidu dreams of turning into mega cities.

A senior official told TOI that though the AP government has demanded a lion’s share in the smart cities programme of the central government, it may turn a reality. “It is not reasonable to demand a 10 per cent share from the Centre, which wants to develop 100 smart cities across the country,” the official pointed out. According to sources, nearly Rs 7 lakh crore will be spent on 100 smart cities in the next seven years.

The concept of a smart city is wide, with a mix of industrial development and urbanisation with high quality governance to facilitate ease of business. Various other elements that would be incorporated into these cities include IT-enabled mechanism for transactions, energy efficient network, water and solid waste management facilities and quality public transport network. In short, they will be provided with metro, BRTS, ring road, Wi-Fi connection, 24 hour water supply and power supply.

The Centre has not yet framed the guidelines on the smart city concept and a clear picture will only emerge once the detailed project report is ready. “We need a consultancy, which in turn will prepare the terms of reference for another professional consultancy to prepare the detailed project report,” said an expert who is helping the AP government on urban planning issues. The smart cities concept will be devolved on the lines of the Gujarat international financial tech city (GIFT) and the Delhi Mumbai Industrial corridor (DMIC) undertaken by the respective governments. According to an official, smart cities will have the benefit of betterment of amenities like dynamic traffic signalling system in place of static ones which have time frame fixed for 30 seconds. In this system traffic will be monitored by CC cameras and accordingly signal time will be adjusted automatically. Presently Bangalore has adopted this system in some areas.


Source:Times Of India

3 Alternative Tech Startup Cities With Less Traffic, More Housing

October 1, 2014

Silicon Valley’s powerful entrepreneurial economy has resulted in some major downsides: gridlocked traffic, high housing prices and a growing and aggressive tech backlash. Today, three cities previously known more as vacation destinations are now legitimate alternatives to Silicon Valley life at a much more affordable price. For the adventurous startup or mature tech company, there’s life beyond red taillights, long commutes and protestors blockading buses.

Las Vegas, Denver and Reno, Nev., mix together a vibrant startup culture with world-class recreation or entertainment. And they all do it in places with plenty of affordable housing, a few million fewer highway-clogging cars and minus the debate over gentrification. Related: What Elon Musk Really Thinks of ‘Silicon Valley’

1. Las Vegas. Tony Hsieh gets credit for jump-starting Las Vegas’ startup scene with his $350 million Downtown Project, but the city has grown into much more than his personal project. Switch Communication’s founder, Rob Roy, is pumping money and energy into the InNEVation Center, a collaboration space that delivers some of the fastest Internet speeds in the world (courtesy of his company’s SuperNAP data center) and serves as a meeting place for startup and economic development events.

Las Vegas’ Downtown Container Park, where an enormous metal praying mantis sculpture shoots flames out of its antennae, hosts live music events along with unique retail and dining spots. It’s helping draw new hospitality sector investment like Seth Schorr’s new ultramodern Downtown Grand hotel, a gaming, dining and entertainment venue.

While the VegasTech Fund, founded by Hsieh, is a big influencer in town, early-stage and maturing Las Vegas companies can seek financing from the Las Vegas Valley Angels, Brennan Capital and state sources like the Battle Born Venture Fund and the Silver State Opportunities Fund.

Competitive advantages: Las Vegas is an hour’s flight away from California’s two biggest population centers and the center of the convention and trade show universe. Representatives of the largest companies in the world touch down for business networking and product launches. Las Vegas has affordable housing and business costs, anchor businesses like Zappos and Switch Communications and a year-round industry-event schedule. Median home prices are $164,700, according to Zillow; about half a million dollars less than San Jose’s. Related: Tech Firms Seeking Talent Spring for Spacious, Luxe Quarters

2. Denver. A healthy startup ecosystem includes companies of all maturity levels, whereby ones that have grown from shoestring outfits to market leaders might reinvest in the community. And Denver has businesses in fast-growing industries and companies large and small, young and mature. Denver-based businesses like HomeAdvisor, now a subsidiary of IAC with 1,200 employees, participate in community-building events like Denver Startup Week.

At the center of Denver’s startup activity is Galvanize, a 30,000-square-foot entrepreneurial campus including a venture capital funding firm, as well as collaborative co-working space and a social hub for events and education. Companies with origins in the Denver area include Mapquest, Photobucket, Rally Software, Cloudzilla and Forkly.

Firms like Grotech Ventures, with offices in Denver, are financing startups and are joined by large Boulder-based funds like the Foundry Group.

Competitive advantage: Denver is located in a mountainous region that many consider more of a vacation destination than a business hub. Indeed Colorado ski resorts are just down the highway and the area’s mountain biking and hiking trails are virtually endless. Denver offers all of this, while retaining an affordable cost of living. Home prices, at a median level of $254,800, are higher than in Reno, Nev., and Las Vegas, but still less than half the price of San Jose’s. Related: The 10 Best Cities for Buying or Selling a Home

3. Reno’s allure lies with its geographic location, affordability and emerging and energetic startup scene. It’s a morning’s drive from Silicon Valley and just a half-hour car trip from the ski slopes and beaches of Lake Tahoe. That mix of business friendliness, quality of life and entrepreneurial energy is attracting small, scrappy startups and the satellite offices of some of the world’s largest technology companies.

The Biggest Little City has transitioned from a gambling mecca into an entrepreneurial hot spot. Tesla Motors is eyeing the city to house its new “gigafactory,” a multibillon-dollar battery-production headquarters; Apple has already built a data center there and Intuit, Microsoft Licensing and Drone America are headquartered in town. Homegrown startups are sprouting downtown. Reno’s Startup Row along the Truckee River features cloud-computing companies and fitness-software outfits, a vibrant co-working collective and a hardware developer that builds microcontrollers.

Reno’s vibrant entrepreneurial culture includes 1 Million Cups events, hackathons and startup weekends all year long. Marmot Properties is remodeling and updating scores of Reno homes in central locations to house the influx of entrepreneurs.

Capital needed to fuel startup activity is also available: The Silver State Opportunities Fund is investing $50 million in Nevada-based business. And the Battle Born Venture Fund is a state fund that provides critical funding for early-stage, high-growth companies in Nevada. The Reno Accelerator Fund invests in early-stage companies in the capital.

Competitive advantage: Reno’s home prices are a world away from Silicon Valley’s. The median Reno home price is $198,700, according to Zillow (less than a third of San Jose’s) so nearby tech startups and maturing companies don’t have to worry about employees struggling to find homes or commuting long hours.

Reno’s tax environment is considered business friendly. And city’s startup scene is alongside a downtown whitewater kayak park with terrific skiing and a web of mountain bike trails nearby. Plus, Reno’s thriving bar, restaurant, coffee and entertainment scene includes Campo, named one of the nation’s best new restaurants by Esquire in 2012.


October 1, 2014

Autodesk, Inc., unveiled its prowess in digital city technology by showcasing a 3D Smart City model of Mumbai, at Autodesk University India & SAARC, 2014. A digital city provides a way for the public, city government, construction communities to combine mapping, building, civil engineering, and utility information into an accurate city model that can be used to simulate the future impact of decisions at a city-wide scale.
The 3D smart city model of Mumbai that was unveiled at Autodesk University 2014, is an intelligent projection of the possibilities that the city has in terms of becoming a smart city.
• The model covers around 40% Mumbai
data comprising of South Mumbai and Bandra area
• The data also includes data related to scenario of Metro Line 3, and iconic structures.
• For developers, architects, urban planners and city officials, there is nothing quite like a scale model of your city to gain new insights into your surrounds.
• Projects related to urbanisation in the PPP mode are a function of time, money and approval. A 3D digital model, by helping in the levels of detailing, helps minimise speculation.
Sunil MK, head, AEC, Autodesk India, said, “While the world has woken up to the importance of Smart Cities, India has shown utmost promise with the government planning to establish 100 Smart cities. Our Digital City technology provides a comprehensive approach to create a sustainable city that balances economic and engineering demands with environmental and social needs.”

Smart city – a utopian concept?

September 30, 2014

‘Smart city’ has become the buzzword ever since the Narendra Modi government took charge at the Centre, exactly 114 days ago. Since then, government offices and intellectual forums, both at the national and state level, have erupted into numerous discussions and debates over the subject. Though back home in Telangana, chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is yet to commit on just how many of Modi’s 100 smart cities (as proposed by the Prime Minister) would come the new state’s way, his Andhra Pradesh counterpart, N Chandrababu Naidu, has gone right ahead and quoted a rather impressive figure. His estimate: 14 out of 100 would surface in AP soon.

Amidst such ambitious announcements, however, there still seems to be no definite definition for this, clearly overused, term.

While the Union ministry of urban development provides a sketchy summary on its official website, attempting to explain how “Smart cities should be able to provide good infrastructure such as water, sanitation, reliable utility services, healthcare; attract investments; transparent processes that make it easy to run commercial activities,” experts note that such descriptions hold no meaning unless sufficiently supported with a plausible plan to execute the same. What’s also missing, they point out, is a well-defined set of parameters that need to be followed for a city to qualify as a smart city, and clarity on just who the implementing authority would be.

“It appears to me that the government wants these cities to be driven by technology, much on the lines of today’s gated communities, where people would need to use a smart card to access common amenities,” said urban researcher, C Ramachandraiah, while airing his apprehension about the success of such a project. “Given that our existing municipalities do not have the capability to initiate such a programme, this would eventually slip into the hands of private parties and benefit only real estate bigwigs and tech consultants,” he rued.

It is perhaps for such reasons that, Anant Maringanti, of Hyderabad Urban Lab, categorically stated how the proposed ‘smart city’ scheme needs to be designed so as to be able to expand the livelihoods of people working in the informal sector. “A good 90% of the Indian economy is embedded in the informal sector. In most cities, this sector sustains the livelihoods of a very large number of people. If the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) can be deployed to make life easier for them, then that, according to me, would be an elegant smart city,” Maringanti said.

“Unless people have jobs in a city, what is the point in digitizing services and putting up cameras all over or even setting up open wi-fi? That does not make a city ‘smart’,” stated Sudhir K Mahon, former chief planning officer of HMDA, while maintaining that it ultimately boils down to “good governance”. “And that can be achieved through linking of all facilities and services, like water, sewerage, etc, so that they prove to be helpful to the masses. Then a city can be called smart,” he added.

Toeing a similar line of explanation, professor V Srinivas Chary, dean of research, Administrative Staff College of India, defined a ‘smart city’ as one that “can deliver good quality services to all its stakeholders, through the use of ICT, in a cost and resource effective way”. “Given the high level of digital literacy in our country, the proposition seems extremely plausible,” Chary claimed, though stressing the need for city governments to adequately capitalise on the available technology to make the project a success.

“There has to be an integrated system of governance with better coordination among departments to implement such schemes,” reiterated architect, Shankar Narayan. Sharing his definition of a ‘smart city’, Narayan said: “A city that can use its natural resources smartly – be it water or even garbage – and is sustainable and equitable to all its residents, can be labelled a ‘smart city’. Then, whether that is achieved through the use of technology or some other means, is immaterial.”

Source: The Times of India, Hyderabad

« Previous PageNext Page »