Rakesh Kaul, Executive Director, leads the Smart Cities Initiative at PwC India. He highlights the opportunities and trends in this upcoming space and how the nation can capitalise on these opportunities.
What is the quantum of opportunities in the smart city space in India?
The new Indian governments ambitious goal of building 100 smart cities and an initial budget allocation of Rs 7000 crore is a step in the right direction. Representative smart cities in the region are Songdo in Korea and Masdar in the Middle East with provisioned budgets of $22 billion for Masdar and $35 billion for Songdo. The population in these cities will be relatively small and well below the 10-lakh mark, in comparison to the bigger smart cities. Comparing these numbers with the Indian context, even if we plan to build a smart city at 10 per cent of the budgeted cost for these two greenfield cities, we are looking at a staggering Rs 21,000 crore per city. Having said that, building smart cities is a complex exercise and building one such city could take over 10-15 years. So if we wish to build a 100 smart cities over a period of lets say next 20 years we are looking at an overall market size of Rs 21 lakh crore, which includes all components of a smart city such as land acquisition, core infrastructure and technology. I would say that my estimate is simplistic and conservative now.
Which are the segments where technology can play a major role and how?
A smart city is a cohesive integration of infrastructure, technology and people in a predefined geography to create a sustainable, enriching and transparent environment for its residents. Technology will play a significant role across various domains of a smart city such as energy (smart grids), waste (solid waste management through vehicle tracking/pneumatic control), water (smart metering), telecom (internet of things, gigabit internet), crisis management (unified command and control), transport (adaptive traffic management), safety (CCTV), healthcare (m-health) and education (virtual classrooms). With the internet of things, mobility, and cloud computing we will see that technology will be extremely adaptable and will facilitate quick deployment of ICT components. In fact, city administrators and planners will continuously integrate a technology plan with the city development and planning initiatives, connectivity establishment will go hand-in-hand with water and sewer pipes as part of the city design.
I will share a few examples to provide a preview of what can be expected from the smart cities of tomorrow.
Unutilised capacity (during off-peak hours and off-peak routes based on ambient traffic and flow of people) of public transportation is the biggest challenge for transportation authorities. A real-time monitoring of flow of people can help allocate more buses on the routes where congestion has occurred from the routes where there is no congestion. (For example, if the transport agencies get to know on a real-time basis that congestion within a bus is increasing for route A but reducing for route B, then the number of buses going on route A can be increased on a real-time basis, thereby reducing the congestion.
With smart metering for electricity, water and piped gas and further opening such data to citizens, concepts of gamification and participatory governance can be used to fundamentally change the behaviour of citizens. The bills for utilities could be generated such that it shows their consumption along with the consumption of their social circle or neighbourhood. Such a gamified system will prompt the citizen to compare and find ways to reduce consumption, thus helping to create a sustainable future while reducing their own cost of living. This would require governments to open the data gathered from across city departments.
How does PwC see the growth of smart cities and the opportunities to help in the development of smart cities?
Indias population forecasts and urbanisation trends are forcing governments to balance population with capacity. Governments across the country are focused on building new stand-alone and satellite cities and enabling them with smart elements to provide quality of life and safety it to residents. We are currently engaging with governments in conceiving smart cities. We are currently working on Naya Raipur, which will be one of a kind greenfield smart city in India. As a country we are at a juncture in our development cycle where we will need capital to fund infrastructure projects, we will need expertise in managing large projects and expertise across various smart city domains.
What are the other measures that can be taken apart from the growth and development of new smart cities?
Apart from investing in greenfield cities, considering the alarming urbanisation trends, we need to calibrate our existing cities to provide a higher quality of life to their current residents better and help increase capacity to accommodate the population growth. We need to improve the service delivery process and improve the quality of life. In order to reduce the capital expenditure and operations cost, we will have to develop indigenous methods and technology. Retrofitting smart technology into existing cities will make them more efficient. Just to give an example, the losses in energy transmission in India amount to over 25 per cent, if by using smart metering these losses can be reduced to 10 per cent, the remaining 15 per cent can be transferred to the citizens directly. Similarly, other smart technologies will help reduce the cost of operation and administration and such benefits can be directly passed over to residents by reducing prices of utilities in a city. Smart city elements can be used to improve the solid waste collection process; we are helping a city administration in India to optimise the garbage collection process through use of GPS devices and RFID tags. We are working with cities to make traffic more adaptive, using analytics to improve service delivery to citizens by reducing leakages and ensuring benefits reach out to the right set of people. We now need to bring together these technology initiatives along with governance reforms in order to make the existing cities smarter..
Which are the successful global smart cities India can take a cue from?
The planning, challenges and outcomes from leading cities like Vienna, Toronto, New York, Barcelona and some of the cities closer to India including Masdar, and Songdo are excellent references. Each of these cities is unique and we must adapt to what is applicable to India, based on our challenges. in their own way. For an Indian context we can develop a generic framework; however, certain extent of customisation will be required for each city based on its purpose and profile. We should adopt an approach which reflects the true ethos of India by focusing on adoption of global best practices and leveraging locally-developed solutions simultaneously. At the granular level we could look at how individual components have been addressed in these cities, from the way city-wide connectivity has been provided, deep integration of technology in utilities and even the business models used to create physical infrastructure.
Could you share your experience in development of various smart city projects?
We are into several domains within the overall purview of smart city. For example we are helping the city administration of Raipur develop solutions around utility management system, intelligent transport system, city-level Wi-Fi, intelligent lighting systems, intelligent rainwater drainage system and emergency response system. For the city of Mumbai, we are working on solutions which are significantly going to improve the solid waste management process. We are helping the home department make the city safer through installation of surveillance systems. For Navi Mumbai we are creating Wi-Fi zones and public address systems along with surveillance systems. In Bangalore we are helping the city administration to ease the traffic woes. We are thus supporting several city administrators deploy elements of a smart city for both greenfield and brownfield cities.
What are the opportunities and solutions in the energy space?
The electricity transmission losses in India are upwards of 25 per cent, and this number has to come down in order to ensure better availability and affordability of power. We face a deficit of close to 12000 MW annually and our losses in transmission exceed Rs 68,000 crore (as of 2011). We have some States which have excess power and some that have severe deficiency. Smart grids could be an important tool to reduce leakages in power distribution. Moreover, buildings account for over 40 per cent energy consumption in India and we would need to make them more efficient in order to use our resources optimally. So there are a lot of opportunities for all the stakeholders to fix a distribution process that is not working and ensure that we dont bleed money through leakages. Moreover, smart cities are meant to be sustainable from the economic, environmental and social standpoint and we will need to channelise our energies towards energy sustainability in this country through renewable energy.