Allowing citizens to become active in the process of city design is important for the success of the Smart Cities Mission.
Traditionally, initiatives like the Smart Cities Mission are indicators of developed economies. A developing country will become a successfully developed country when its citizens also upgrade and update themselves. In India, the Mission is in full swing, with the top 20 smart cities stepping into the next stage of implementation. It focuses on the technology overlaying the basic infrastructure that will be built in right places and in sufficient quantities in the cities.
The most vital aspect — the citizens who live and work in these cities — must be integral to the implementation process as well. The success of the Mission is firmly vested in smart citizens.
A smart citizen is one who has civic sense and respects the law. Some of unanswered questions about smart cities as far as citizen participation is concerned are:
l Will people obey the traffic rules, drive within speed limits and desist from jumping signals?
l Will they put pedestrians first ?
l Will they respect elders and give way to senior citizens?
l Will they park their vehicles at designated spots and not anywhere else?
l Will they maintain hygiene not only their flats but also in the common areas of their apartment complexes?
l Will they throw garbage only in bins and practice source segregation during garbage disposal?
Awareness about smart solutions plays crucial role in developing true smart citizens. Though the local authorities of our smart cities will make substantial investments in smart solutions, they cannot skimp on efforts to raise citizen awareness on the efficient usage of these solutions and services.
For example, energy saving cannot be achieved merely with smart meters in a home. In order to reduce energy consumption and save money on bills, consumers need to not only monitor their energy use but also make an effort to change the whole family’s daily energy usage behaviour.
This would include shifting to energy-efficient appliances, reducing TV time, and switching off electrical appliances when not in use, especially during peak periods.
A smart city connects people with their environment and city to create more efficient and optimal relationships between available resources, technology, community services, and events in the urban fabric. This connection is a tool that links the implementation of the smart city and the proposed technology.