India is a dynamic seedbed for Smart Cities and are spearheading a number of initiatives and novel approaches. This article overview these initiatives within an eGovernance perspective.
by Tanya Kumari – 30 May 2020
SMART CITIES AND EGOVERNANCE TRENDS IN INDIA
Smart Cities Mission, an initiative launched in 2015, aims at creating the next generation cities in India. These cities would not just have an easy-to-access infrastructure but also be technologically advanced in government-citizen interaction. Technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Radio-frequency identification (RFID), cloud computing, and many more would be used by the government to offer ‘smarter’ solutions. It would ease the resource-deficit burden of the country by empowering the government to do much more with less.
And when cities are becoming smarter, the traditional methods of governing would not suffice. That’s why the government is taking new eGovernance initiatives that are laced with the latest technologies. Digital transformation in government is here and each government agency is taking required steps to ensure smooth eGovernance.
By eGovernance in smart cities, we mean a type of governance that aims at efficient usage of information and communication technology (ICT) for improving the services offered by the government to its citizens and increasing the stakeholder participation in decision making and policy formation. This would help improve the governance of the state and move towards government digital transformation.
Four Stages of eGovernance
The government has crossed the most crucial stages of eGovernance, starting from having an online presence, to allowing digital interaction opportunities to citizens, and ensuring digital transactions like paying of taxes, fees, etc. Now, it aims at reaching the fourth stage of eGovernance to make the smart cities truly smart. This is the transformation stage where it seeks to improve its functioning through e-means like automation, RPA, data collection, and much more.
The inhabitants of these smart cities would get to enjoy various e-benefits like e-consultation, e-democracy, e-participation, and policymaking. As smart cities lead towards a government digital transformation, the citizens would get everything online.
Challenges in Smart Cities & eGovernance
The government launched the smart city initiative back in 2015 but is still fighting several odds and challenges. There have been not one, not two, but many challenges to the smart city plan and eGovernance in these cities. Whether we talk about the illiteracy of the people, their unwillingness and resistance to change, or the risk of data breach, there are several challenges that are hindering the progress of smart cities in India. Apart from that, getting the right funding for transforming your government is also a challenge.
Trends in Smart Cities & eGovernance
For smooth eGovernance in the country, especially the smart cities, the government needs to utilize several channels. Until now, the government has been using channels like smartphone applications, social media applications, SMS services, voice-prompted interface, and many more. In the coming times, there are several trends that are expected to change the way smart cities and eGovernance in India. Let’s have a quick look:
Faster Connectivity With 5G
The buzzword in the network and communications community right now is 5G. With higher bandwidth and better performance, 5G offers much faster connectivity. Smart cities would definitely be seen utilizing this network technology to allow faster connectivity. Moreover, using 5G, eGovernance operations and processes can be completed in half the time. And it wouldn’t go without saying that the latest technologies like the Internet of Things and ICT would also benefit which are acting as a foundation of transforming these Indian cities into smart cities.
Using AR & VR To Visualize Scenarios
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are two of the emerging technologies that will transform the way users interact with businesses. As we can see real estate using AR and VR to showcase property listings, the government would also be seen using AR & VR for visualizing different scenarios in smart cities. By visualizing scenarios like those for any emergency situation in controlled environments, the government can make better decisions for the future. It provides them with an opportunity to view structural elements that could not be performed in reality.
Moreover, they can visualize data and interact with the environment to analyze it using various perspectives. The government developers can also use AR and VR to compare different infrastructure plans and visualize their roads, highways, bridges, etc., to shuffle and see which plan would work more efficiently for development.
Quantum Computing To Detect Anomalies
Quantum computing allows scientists to calculate computational problems in a jiffy. It can be used to detect any anomaly in large bits of data to see what deviates from the ‘normal’.Machine Learning can also be used for detecting anomalies. The government can use these quantum computing algorithms on the data collected from the people and offer help. In smart cities, the government can use quantum computing to see anomalies in data from domains like medicine, traffic flow, economic forecasting, tax collection, meteorology, etc. It can quickly offer a solution by detecting these anomalies and creating a solution even before the problem starts or goes out of hand.
Smart cities would have autonomous processes that would collect real-time data from everything like the traffic management to weather forecasting to make better decisions. These smart cities would follow a data-driven governance mode to ensure they are serving their citizens to the best of their capabilities. From identifying the problems to analyzing opportunities and creating solutions, data would certainly empower the government of these smart cities. Even the UN has set high-quality, timely, reliable and disaggregated data as one of its major agendas by 2030.
The government agencies would be able to utilize the data to analyze anything from specific analysis of high disease rate in certain areas to general data analysis for housing & infrastructure plan, data will help in eGovernance.
Internet of Things Making Everything Smarter
IoT aka Internet of Things is indeed connecting everything, from humans and machines to machines and machines, to make them smarter. Whether we talk about smart TVs, smart homes or smart Cars, everything is connected and can be accessed by the click on a button on your smartphone. So, how can smart cities lag behind?
These smart cities would be laced with built-in sensors in street lights, electricity grids, traffic signals, and everything else to effectively monitor and automate the data collection and distribution. By analyzing the data, these smart sensors would help the utility companies and other organizations save energy and make sustainable decisions for the cities. Things would become intelligent with edge computing and AI technology. It would be a new form of governance that would be witnessed in these smart cities because of government digital transformation that IoT and smart ‘things’ would bring.
Network convergence means the bringing together of different networks to promise the delivery of high-speed internet. With network convergence, you can get more convenient and flexible modes for communicating and accessing information online. Smart cities will see more wire-line and wireless networking systems offering a centralized infrastructure. Not only will this help the people of the smart cities and the government in monitoring the people here, but it would also enable the businesses to model state-of-the-art excellent business plans for the future.
State Of The Art eDevices
If you are keeping up with the current situation, you would be aware of how the government is using drone technology to analyze the current situation in different regions. They are using drones to see if people are in their homes or still roaming the streets. Well, this is just the beginning, the government of the smart cities would be using more of these advanced and modern eDevices to monitor the people and make smart decisions.
Smart ICT and IoT devices would be on the rise in smart cities to ensure efficient monitoring of the cities and addressing real-time issues effectively.
Cloud For Centralized Monitoring
The Indian government has advanced from using client-side systems to web-based systems and is now going complete cloud to ensure stability and connectivity. Cloud-based systems will help the government in creating national-level registries that are stored centrally on cloud. Downtime and maintenance cost reduces when everything is stored on the cloud; making eGovernance easier and quicker. Cloud migration or storing data on the cloud only requires a strong internet connection and the emergence of 5G would only add icing on the cake.
The aim is to create a unified e-government infrastructure that would be based on the cloud and enable easy monitoring and also eases the concern of interoperability. Services are accessible remotely over the internet and not locally, which allows quick access to all. There are various domains in which cloud can help in centralized monitoring and easier eGovernance. These are:
- Unique Identification Authority of India
- Crime Management
- Health and land records
- Crime management
- Centralized auditing
- Legal records and case management
India’s National Informatics Centre has deployed an open-source eucalyptus software that acts as the foundation for its cloud approach. It allows broad-scale cloud-based eGovernance in India.
Let’s Welcome New Models Of eGovernance
Wrapping it up, let’s throw light on the four models of eGovernance that we will be seeing in our smart Indian cities. These would be G2C: Government to Citizen Model, G2G: Government To Government Model, G2B: Government To Business Model, and G2E: Government To Employee. These four models would allow a better and seamless flow of information from the government to different aspects of the system. When dealing with the life of citizens of smart cities, the government would need to follow these models of governance to ensure its smart services are creating the digital infrastructure that is needed.
Innovative ICT applications would rule the eGovernance of smart cities and we would certainly see emerging technologies like data analytics, GIS, Artificial Intelligence, Quantum computing, Internet of Things, and many more to rule smart cities. It will be interesting to see how these trends evolve as government digital transformation takes shape in Indian smart cities.
Meet The Author:
Tanya Kumari leads the Digital Marketing & Content for Classic Informatics, a global web development company. She is an avid reader, music lover and a technology enthusiast who likes to be up to date with all the latest advancements happening in the techno world. When she is not working on her latest article on tech dynamics, you can find her by the coffee machine, briefing co-workers on the perks of living a healthy lifestyle and how to achieve it.