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Make smart cities sustainable, too

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<a href=Smart cities are built of smart homes.”>Smart cities are built of smart homes.Smart cities are built of smart homes.

As the world evolved, there has been a lot of thrust on rapid urbanisation and development. Growing awareness and alarming concerns over global warming have emphasised on the need for more sustainable urbanisation. There is a dire need to bring in ‘conscious consumerism’ decisions to have a positive economic, social, and environmental impact to build a successful economy. To create this, the government of India had announced the ‘National Smart Cities Mission’ to develop 100 smart cities across the country, making them citizen-friendly, tech-savvy and sustainable. The tech-advances deployed, it was hoped at the time, would bring the best global practices to Indian cities and orient these towards sustainability.

Integrated, tech-first urban development is fast becoming a reality for India. Having achieved that, we must focus on ecological sustainability, which is of equal importance. Countries now expect to achieve a wholesome future. The marriage of technology with ecological sustainability helps develop a nation that is not only smart, efficient, sustainable but also successful. UNECE and ITU jointly put forward a definition of a smart, sustainable city: an innovative city that uses ICT and other means to improve quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generation consumers with respect to economic, social and environmental goals as well as cultural aspects. In India, particularly, the government and the real estate industry are collectively working towards creating this “wholesome future” envisaged.

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Today, the demand for emerging technologies is on the rise. Ensuring ways to use these technologies in bettering urban management goes a long way in creating a system that is efficient and reliable. ICT has opened up many possibilities for the smart, sustainable cities vision. With various advancements in IoT, AI, etc, tasks like e- governance, healthcare, waste management, finances, traffic, education, security and protection, among others, have become more streamlined. Smart cities are built of smart homes. Therefore, today, as the world progresses, new-age homebuyers have expressed the need to have technology and sustainability integrated to their day-to-day lives through a central system (often automated) monitoring power, water, etc, consumption for sustainable usage.

The aspect of sustainability, in reference to smart cities, is ideally about projects and the overall blueprint of the infrastructure planned. Apart from integrating sustainable and eco-friendly practices in the construction phase of a building, being an eco-friendly and sustainable township is also about using methods that help in overall energy efficiency and waste management. Efforts such as recycling of garbage, bio-composting, within housing societies help further sustainability. The other focus is on harnessing wind and solar power to provide a part of power requirements.

Other systems such as recharging the water table through rain water harvesting, and sewage treatment which provides treated sewage in form of water for gardens and construction/cleaning purposes are increasingly sought to be integrated with the smart, sustainable city vision. Sustainability within a smart city requires smart architecture which ensures aligning construction with the wind directions and natural light resources, so that load on HVAC and luminaries is reduced. It is also important to focus on areas like air and water pollution control, sewage disposal, connectivity that ensures low pollution emission on the roads and during activities including construction.

The Covid-19 pandemic has underlined the need for technology in daily living. Technology came in handy for sustaining communications and connections while maintaining the norms of social distancing, while our home is what allowed us to return and protect ourselves in a safe and secure environment. The need to blend the two together to create a holistic and self-sustaining ecosystem has been the aim for economies across the world. With each integrated eco-township or smart city that is planned and executed, India gets a step closer to its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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