New government in India wants to build 100 smart cities

Fri, 2014-06-06 06:00 -- Doug Cooley

Smart city development looks to get a stronger push in India with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prevailing in recent national elections and Narendra Modi settling in as the country’s prime minister.

The new, pro-business government is advocating reforms that will boost infrastructure investment, streamline decision-making and, in the end, get the Indian economy rolling.  Modi in particular is looking to shift the emphasis from rural to urban development. As the Washington Post reports, he intends to pursue large-scale building and modernization projects, including high speed rail sytems and hydroelectric power plants.

The new prime minister, a technophile and social media fan, also stands behind the BJP’s goal of building 100 new smart cities to accommodate the country’s rapidly rising urban population. While details remain unclear, the Indian press mentions using Geographic Information Systems to facilitate planning, strengthening the electric grid, improving waste management and connecting citizens to city services. Market researchers anticipate large investments in smart city technologies in India over the next decade.

There will be challenges

A number of challenges face Modi and his development agenda, according to The New York Times. Also, some current efforts to modernize cities have met with setbacks. For example, The Guardian reports how the plans to develop the smart city of Dholera, located in Modi’s home state of Gujurat, have met with protests from local farmers and that investors in a Dholera seaport have backed out.

Several SCC Global Partners are already working in India.  For example, Cisco is currently involved with the government in implementing smart city elements along the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC). And Microsoft is working to develop the Gujarat city Surat as India’s first smart city under the company’s CityNext initiative.