Being smart about Smart Cities Mission

Any attempt to improve our cities depends on how data are compiled and shared

The Centre would like us to believe that the Smart Cities Mission will transform urban life in the agglomerations that enter the elite club. With the latest inclusions, there are 90 cities in the list, each of which proposes to turn ‘smart’, utilizing core funding from the Center and other resources. By all accounts, the provision of basic services in urban India has been worsening, and this is clearly reflected in the winning city proposals: 81 of the selected plans seek funds for affordable housing, new schools and hospitals, and redesign of roads. This is at best a partial list, and there are many more aspects to achieving inclusivity. There is a high-visibility campaign around the Smart Cities Mission, but there is little evidence to suggest that State and local governments have either the fine-grained data or the capability to analyse them in order to understand the evolving needs of their communities. The Center has apparently decided to skirt such a fundamental problem by adopting a ‘managed urbanization’ approach in the chosen cities, with the powers of municipal councils delegated to a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), under the Companies Act, that will act in its own wisdom. Given that this is the model adopted by the two-year-old Mission, the Centre must present a status report on what the SPVs have achieved so far.

Any serious attempt at improving the quality of life in cities would depend on how governments approach data. It would be smart, for instance, to use sensors to estimate the flow of vehicles and pedestrians, and create smartphone applications for the public to report on a variety of parameters. Making such data open would enable citizens’ groups to themselves come up with analyses to help city administrators make decisions, boost transparency and make officials accountable. There are several international examples now, such as the Array of Things sensors being installed on Chicago streets, which let people download the raw data on air quality, transport, pedestrian movement and standing water. Although India’s Smart Cities Mission has identified more than 20 priority areas, interventions by the respective agencies are weak. Access to special funding should make it mandatory for all public transport providers - city bus corporations, Metro Rail and suburban trains - to provide real-time passenger information in the form of open data, an inexpensive global standard that raises both access and efficiency through smartphone applications. Making street-level waste management data public would lead to a heat map of the worst sites, compelling managers to solve the problem. Clearly, there is a lot of low-hanging fruit on the road to smartness, and a nimble policy approach can tap this quickly. More importantly, the ideology that guides the plan should recognize that the vibrant life of cities depends on variety and enabling environments, rather than a mere technology-led vision. Pollution-free commons, walk-ability and easy mobility, with a base of reliable civic services, is the smart way to go. Source : THE HINDU


1) Agglomerations (संकुलन) - Aa-glow-mer-a-shun
Meaning - a mass or collection of things, an assemblage - Noun
Synonyms - cluster, heap
Example - The towns are on the way to becoming agglomerations of desperately poor people.

2) Elite (अभिजात वर्ग) - L-eat
Meaning - a select group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group or society - Noun
Synonyms - nobility, gentry
Antonyms - dregs, inferior
Example - Only the educational elite go to Oxford or Cambridge.

3) Inclusion (समावेशन) - In-clue-shun
Meaning - the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure - Noun
Synonyms - incorporation, insertion
Antonyms - exclusion, omission
Example - There were some surprising inclusions in the list.

4) Apparently (जाहिरा तौर पर) - Aa-parent-lee
Meaning - as far as one knows or can see - Adverb
Synonyms - ostensibly, allegedly
Antonyms - improbably, equivocally
Example - The plane apparently overshot the runway after landing.

5) Intervention (हस्तक्षेप) - Inter-van-tion
Meaning - the action or process of intervening - Noun
Synonyms - involvement, interposition
Example - Thanks to early intervention therapy the cancer has not spread throughout my body.

6) Nimble (फुर्तीला) - Nim-bal
Meaning - quick and light in movement or action, agile - Adjective
Synonyms - agile, lithe
Antonyms - awkward, clumsy
Example - The overweight police officer could not catch the nimblesuspect.

7) Ideology (विचारधारा) - I-deo-law-ji
Meaning - a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy - Noun
Synonyms - creed, outlook
Example - The ideology has great influence in the world.

8) Unifying (एकीकृत) - U-ni-fie-ing
Meaning - make or become united, uniform, or whole - Verb
Synonyms - consolidate, associate
Antonyms - disintegrative, divide
Example (English) - Amitabh Bachchan explained GST as an unifying force just like the three colours in the national flag.
Example (Hindi) - अमिताभ बच्चन ने जीएसटी को राष्ट्रीय ध्वज के तीन रंगों की तरह एक करने वाले बल के रूप में बताया।

Now considering the article above as a Reading Comprehension question, try to answer the following -
  • What are the best practices available in the areas of renewable and sustainable energy efficient models?
  • What will be the boundary of the Smart City?
Given below are some words to check your vocabulary you can make sentences with those words in the comment section which will be reviewed by us.
  • Inclusivity
  • Worsening
  • Parameters
  • Vibrant
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