Smart city, the new buzzword in the urban landscape, is expected to be a catalyst in transforming the way we live. What else do you call an integration of seamlessly connected systems, urban planning, smart infrastructure and operations in an environment geared to improve the quality of life for a city’s population? Besides enriching the lives of its residents, a smart city should be sustainable and efficient at all levels. So, what is it that makes any city, a smart city?

Learning from some of the best smart cities in the world, let’s look at, what we think are the 5 key pillars of any smart city:

  1. Smart energy solutions: Smart cities make their energy consumption more efficient, reliable and green with the help of technology. They have well networked smart grids that not only reduce power consumption but also make it more cost-effective. The integration of IoT, automation and real-time demand response management systems hold the key to energy preservation.


  1. Smart safety and security solutions: Rising population in urban cities has raised concerns about public safety and smart cities address them by adopting smart security measures. They are equipped with real-time monitoring systems and safety mechanisms like IP based video surveillance, drone based alarm systems, and rapid action team dispatch technology. Recent technological advances in advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and image processing can help in crowd monitoring and criminal identification.


  1. Efficient infrastructure and transportation: Possibly the most important. A smart city cannot survive without a sound infrastructure. This includes connected modes of transport, modern road network and intelligent transport and traffic management solutions. Smart cities deploy IoT solutions for dynamic traffic management and to streamline movement for commuters, it provides tips on the best time to travel and alerts on the nearest available parking space.


  1. E-governance: Smart cities utilize online services and greater community participation to bring about accountability and transparency. Mobile services and e-forums are used to reduce cost of services and provide faster services without actually going to government offices. Solutions like cloud-based applications may be used to provide on-demand services while ensuring data security.


  1. Information and communication technology: Finally, none of the above is achievable without adoption of modern communication technologies. Smart cities utilize information and communications technology to scale up a city’s workability, sustainability and livability. The proliferation of smartphones and 4G/5G technology has ensured that smart citizens are always connected and on the go, but the goal should be to make connectivity accessible to all citizens.

If you are wondering whether building a new smart city would be a better idea than revamping an old one – the answer is negative in the Indian context. Upgrading the existing cities using innovative technology is imperative and the synergy of public and private domains will play a key role in implementing the vision of modern urbanization. Cochin, one of the 100 cities selected as part of Smart Cities Mission in India, is hosting the IEEE Tensymp 2017 conference, with the theme of ‘Technologies for Smart Cities’. Another city from Kerala, its capital city – Thiruvananthapuram has topped the list of 30 new cities recently added to the Smart Cities Mission. The results are yet to be seen but we have taken the first step towards efficient and reliable infrastructure, enhanced quality of life and economic opportunities.

Written by Anto Ouseph

on 12 Jul 2017

Anto T Ouseph works as a MarCom specialist at Quest Global. He has over 10 years of experience managing different portfolios that includes content marketing, digital & social marketing campaigns, public relations, internal communications & integrated marketing communications. An avid reader and traveler with a journalistic background, Anto loves to write on socio-economic issues and general industry trends.