How India hopes to cut to the front of the smart city line (and how IBM plans to help)

Wed, 2013-09-25 06:00 -- Jesse Berst

We've seen it before -- developing regions leapfrogging the developed world. South Korea, for instance, is the acknowledged world leader in broadband access after starting from way behind. And now we are seeing signs that India may become a leader in smart cities. No, I'm not pretending that the entire country can surpass the developed world. But it does appear that India will develop a large number of greenfield projects as state-of-the-art smart cities.

One such effort is the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. The project's CEO, Amitabh Kant, explained it this way on IBM's Smarter Planet blog: "In much of the developed world, innovative new digital technologies are being retrofitted onto aging infrastructure to make cities work better for the 21st century. But here in India we have a tremendous opportunity: to build new cities from the ground up with smart technologies. Using technology and planning, we can leapfrog the more mature economies."

"Unlike the cities that grew up in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries," he continued, "we don’t have abundant supplies of land, energy and water. So we have to build cities in far more innovative and sustainable ways."

Kant is pictured here with IBM Global Business Services Smarter Cities Director Rahul Sharma (right) reviewing the master plan for the industrial corridor.

The release below from IBM, a Smart Cities Council Lead Partner, describes one of India's most intriguing projects, but there are many others in the talking stages as well. -- Jesse Berst

IBM to Help Transform Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor with Creation of Smarter and Sustainable Cities

Technology Strategy Spans Six States in India to Create Global, Competitive Cities

India - 19 Sep 2013: IBM and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation Ltd. (DMICDC), today announced the completion of a digital plan for Dighi Port Industrial Area, Maharashtra. As a business consulting partner, IBM is working with DMICDC to support one of the biggest industrial development projects of the government of India by helping build smarter and sustainable cities.

India has witnessed major urbanization, with an estimated 30 people leaving rural India for urban areas every minute during the next 20 years. At this rate, the country will need some 500 new cities in the next two decades. Cities and urban developments will need to use innovative technologies and solutions to manage the growing demands on city infrastructures that deliver vital services.

The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) is India's most ambitious Infrastructure program aiming to develop new industrial cities as "Smart Cities" spanning across six states in India. The vision of DMICDC is to create a strong economic base within a globally competitive environment and state-of-the-art infrastructure to activate local commerce, enhance foreign investments and attain sustainable development along the corridor. With the aim of providing seamless digital connectivity among townships and better living conditions, DMICDC selected IBM for the company’s expertise in the area of Smarter Cities.

The Integrated Communication Technology (ICT) Master Plan for Dighi Port Industrial Area, Maharashtra developed by IBM provides a futuristic roadmap for the area including the use of technology to deliver services to business and citizens such as monitoring energy consumption, traffic visualization, improved water management, and enhanced public safety. Using IBM's Smarter Cities software, the Intelligent Operations Center, a command center will be established to integrate and interconnect information from various departments and agencies throughout the city to improve safety, prevent and anticipate problems, and improve the quality of life for citizens.

“We are pleased to have IBM as one of the key partners for this project to develop a city based on international standards in close proximity to Dighi Port. This will enhance economic growth, global competitiveness, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability in select cities,” said Amitabh Kant, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC). “With IBM’s Smarter Cities knowledge and rich, proven experience, we believe that we can efficiently realize our vision which will help provide best in class citizen services and better living conditions. It will also help enable governance of the city in real time.”

This master plan developed by IBM incorporates the management of clean water, energy, transportation, public safety, education, and healthcare, allowing the essential key services of the city to be managed more effectively using smart devices, sensors and intelligent communications. Large amount of Big Data streaming from these devices will be connected to a Central Command Center where city administrators can record and respond to events quickly and in a more coordinated manner. The roadmap also makes recommendations to help DMICDC find ways to reduce costs, power usage, increase efficiency and improve quality of management across the township.

“This project provides the foundation to use technology in new ways to drive economic development, job growth and improve the quality of life for citizens,”said Rahul Sharma, Executive Director, Partner & Smarter Cities Leader, Global Business Services, IBM India/South Asia. “IBM's deep consulting expertise in smarter cities, as well as our practical experience from transforming thousands of cities worldwide will enable DMICDC to provide a better environment to attract citizens, new business and investments in the region.”

IBM is helping cities around the world use the vast amount of information already available to deliver more efficient citizen services.


Jesse Berst is the founding Chairman of the Smart Cities Council. Click to subscribe to SmartCitiesNow, the weekly newsletter highlighting smart city trends, technologies and techniques.