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Building Smart Cities: What you can do with an Engineering Degree

The thought processes behind modeling a new level of Indian city - and you can be involved too, with an engineering degree.
BY Amitabh Kant |   03-07-2014
You know when cities were made across Europe and America, land, gas and water were all very cheaply available. And because they were cheaply available the Americans made really sprawling cities. You could live in New Jersey and travel to New York, guzzle gas all the way through - they made cities like Atlanta, where 98.2% of people travel by car and therefore the ecological footprint of Atlanta is twelve times more than that of Barcelona, both of them have roughly the same population.

Now, to my mind a smart city is one where people are able to gain out of two things. One is they are able to access their place of work very easily. And number two where, in today’s world where, when cities were made across America, digital technology was not available. It did not exist and therefore you created verticals, you created a vertical of power, you created a vertical of water, you created a vertical of safety and none of them were talking to each other. But digital technology enables everything to get connected with each other.

A thinker, C.K. Prahalad, said that actually by the time India becomes 75 in 2022, India needs to create 500 smart cities or one million each. And therefore to my mind if India wants to grow at rates of nine to 10 percent per annum, India needs to use technology to leap frog.

The business model of all telephone companies is actually smart cities. The two need to speak, the digital technology and the geographical planning needs to merge, they need to converge. That to my mind is really the key about converging technology with geographical planning and embedding technology in the process of geographical planning. I think this is what India needs to do.

Amitabh Kant; Photo courtesy:

This new train will open a completely new route of India and on the back of this we are developing seven new cities, completely new Greenfield cities. And this to my mind will be the key driver of growth, this will be the key driver of urbanization and in all this planning process, we have embedded technology with the geographical planning and we are treating ICT, the Information Communication Technology layer exactly like a layer of power, exactly like a layer of road, it s one of the horizontals which gets merged together, we will talk more about this, but to my mind, digital technology is, what is called a smart cities by some, smart and intelligent cities by the others, ubiquitous by the others, is what India needs to do to leap forward and leap frogging in urbanization is the way forward for India.

Excerpt from a panel session 'Smart Cities and Economic Corridors' which took place at the Salwan Media One Globe 2014 Conference, held in February 2014 at The Imperial in New Delhi.

Amitabh Kant is CEO and Managing Director of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation Limited (DMICDC).



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29 October 2014

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