Jaipur, Sep 27 (IANS) To drive an all-inclusive digital transformation in the country, it is high time we changed the narrative from creating smart cities to making a smart nation, says a top Cisco India executive.
“We are very keen to take the narrative from smart city to smart nation to make it all inclusive,” Amit Malik – Managing Director, Public Sector and Services, Cisco India, told IANS.
To work towards a smart nation, the need is to make our rural areas smarter, Malik remarked, while speaking on the sidelines of the three-day international conference, “Smart City Expo India 2018”, organised here by trade fair institution Fira Barcelona in partnership with Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) and Quantela Inc — a digital technology solutions provider for smart cities.
However smart a city is, it cannot curtail density, which will keep on increasing as more and more people will keep on migrating, Malik said.
For sustainable urbanisation, cities need to adopt a framework that is socially equitable, economically viable and environmentally sustainable, according to “Smartest Cities of the Future” report recently launched by Cisco in association with International Data Corporation and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).
“While the vision of the government on smart cities is fantastic and is working well, the need, however, is to have a blue print ready about where we want to reach five to 20 years from now,” Malik added.
With a large population migrating from rural areas to urban, there is tremendous pressure on the existing infrastructure to judiciously use the resources for the benefit of all its citizens.
“If you really want to avoid urbanisation, you must bring up the rural areas, make smart villages.
“For this to happen, a blueprint inclusive of education, healthcare, and skill development should be developed. Thus, when you are conceiving a smart city you should know where it is going,” Malik said.
But, a smart nation is not just about building highways and roads but also about building safe and secure Internet highways and a virtual world.
It is because the things which improve liveability in the smart cities might also prove a threat for the citizens, Malik said, emphasising that though technology is a great slave to have, it is a dangerous master.
Thus, it is imperative “to ensure that every city, infrastructure, digital transformation is formed on the foundation of best cybersecurity solutions,” Malik said.
He suggested that the key areas to focus for developing a secure intelligent platform are multi-Cloud world, reinventing the network, unlocking the power of data, and creating meaningful experiences.
The Narendra Modi government, had on June 25, 2015, unveiled the smart city mission, which was aimed at upgrading 100 cities with affordable housing, integrated multi-modal transport, creation and preservation of open spaces, and waste and traffic management systems, among others.
“Cisco is involved in 20-22 smart cities with almost 80 per cent share of the total projects,” Malik said.
To help city planners adopt technologies that will transform their communities globally, Cisco had also announced a $1 billion programme, in November 2017.
Among the several projects rolled out till date is the Golden Mile in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.
Touted as India’s longest smart street, the three-kilometre stretch has over 35 WI-FI hotspots providing high speed Internet with 240 smart street lights which could result in savings of over $5.22 million to the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation.
The street was created by Cisco in collaboration with the Andhra Pradesh government.
To foster a culture of innovation among today’s youth, Cisco is also working with several educational institutions in Mumbai, Karimnagar, Jaipur, Vishakhapatnam among many other cities to provide digital learning instruments to make education more immersive.
Further, Cisco said it aims to train 2.5 lakh students by 2020 through its over 306 Cisco Networking Academies across India.
(Rachel V. Thomas is attending the Smart City Expo India 2018 at Jaipur at the invitation of Cisco. She can be contacted at [email protected])