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National Conclave on Smart Technologies

The conclave, held on August 22-23, 2015 in Hyderabad, organised by Smart Cities Council India, brought together international experts on technologies and smart cities along with urban development officials from across India.

International experts on technologies and smart cities along with urban development officials from across India – constituting 600 cities, covering the100 smart cities and 500 AMRUT cities – came together at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre to participate in the National Conclave on Smart Technologies. The event was jointly hosted by Smart Cities Council India and the Telengana Government.

At the inaugural session on day one, Pratap Padode, Founder & Director, Smart Cities Council India, delivered the welcome address advocating that India has many successful smart cities practices carried out in different parts of the country, and that by sharing we can enhance their footprint. Then, BVR Mohan Reddy, Chairman, NASSCOM, expounded on the role of ´Technology in Developing Smart Cities´.

Guest of Honour KT Rama Rao, Minister-IT, Telangana, spoke about ´creating a smart technologies hub´. Citing digital infrastructure and digital literacy as big challenges, he said, ´The one-size-fits-all formula will not work for Indian smart cities…India needs its own formula.´ And Chief Guest Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister for Urban Development, Government of India, enthralled the audience on ´how India will build smart cities´ with his witty one-liners and alliterations. ´The need for today is a smart liveable city with transparency and accountability,´ he emphasised. ´Revenue generation and mobilisation should be the main focus of urban local bodies.´

After the inaugural session, Padode commented, ´Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu has confirmed that the Smart Cities Mission rollout has been very smooth and no obstacles have come their way. He has assured that the list of smart cities as per Phase-I of the Smart Cities Challenge will be declared on September 1, but declared the list earlier on August 27, itself, after which the cities will move into the second round of the competition.´

Then, the conclave kicked-off in right earnest with the theme, ´100 Smart Cities: Leapfrog to the Future´. There were four keynote addresses for the day: ´Preparing for Smart Cities´ by Prof Carlo Ratti, Director, MIT Senseable City Laboratory, Boston; ´Transforming Indian Cities´ by Dr Isher Ahluwalia, Chairperson, ICRIER; ´Building Smart City of Barcelona´ by Vicente Guallart, Architect, Urban Habitat Lab, IAAC Barcelona; and ´Indian Smart Cities Mission´ by Sameer Sharma, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India. While Ratti gave examples from Barcelona and Boston to show how simple tech fixes could deal with common urban issues, Ahluwalia quoted examples of best practices in India in cities like Surat, Hyderabad and Pune, as explained in her book, Transforming Cities. For his part, Guallart defined eight principles to make a smart city: defining your city´s mantra; analysing the structure of your city; rethinking city systems and their upgradation; development of economy of city services with partners; making the city more resilient; building a liveable city; making it human-centric; and making good designs for the city.

The day continued with sessions aplenty. At the plenary session, ´Keys to Future Energy´, chaired by Nikhil Agarwal, CEO, Innovation Society, Government of Andhra Pradesh, and Vijay Ratnaparkhe, Managing Director & President, Robert Bosch Engineering, the focus was on distributed production, renewables and energy storage; reducing energy needs and the environmental impact; and smart grid and smart metering.

At the parallel session, ´Improving Urban Waste Management´, chaired by M Goutham Reddy, Executive Director, Ramky Group, the Smart Discussion was on new techniques and technologies for managing solid waste and waste-to-energy practices. The next plenary session, ´Governance Challenges for Smart Cities´, was chaired by Navin Mittal (IAS), Special Commissioner, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. The Smart Focus was on smart economic development through governance; smart and open govern¡ment; governance and funding; and m-governance.

At the parallel session, ´Developing Secure and Resilient Cities´, chaired by Rajendra Prasad Telugu, Executive Manager, Intergraph, the Smart Discussion was on making the city resilient to natural disasters and new technologies and techniques for better security management.

Day two began with a recap of the first day by Padode, followed by a special address by Somesh Kumar, Commissioner, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, titled, ´Swachh Bharat Mission – On Track with Hyderabad´. He elaborated upon the initiatives taken by the corporation, specifically revenue generation, road development, toilet building, meals for the poor, driver-cum-owner scheme, sanitation and hygiene.

There were also two keynote addresses: ´A Case Study on Masdar´ by Gaurish Wagle, Urban Planning Manager, Masdar City; and ´Evaluation of the Value of Leveraging Technology in Land Administration´ by David Hickman, Director of International Sales, Thomson Reuters. Wagle explained the concept behind Masdar City, a 100 per cent government-funded smart city project in Abu Dhabi, which is now self-financing its projects and operation and maintenance. And Hickman spoke about his company´s efforts to help governments manage revenue generation, support sustainable growth and improve services for the public by digitising and marking land ownerships on GIS maps.

Next came ´Innovative Start-Ups and Apps for Society´. Spotlighting innovation and entrepreneurship, this served as a platform for new companies to showcase apps that will drive the execution of smart cities in the coming years. These included the Swachh Bharat App, which aims to build maps of dirty or unhygienic areas around the country to pinpoint areas for timely action; MyBusTickets.in, an e-commerce website that provides booking for intercity bus services in 20 states and almost 200 cities in India through the web or Android mobile; Zippr, an eight-digit alphanumeric code that gives the complete address and precise location overlaid on a Google map and will help integrate public utilities; ZIFY, a Web and mobile-enabled dynamic car-pooling service; Samvaad App, which is is ?designed? for the central ?or? state governments ?to bring about transparency in their work?; ?Reach Safe?, ?one of the flagship products of Votary Tech a citizen? ?application for women safety in She Shuttle Transport in the IT Corridor of Hyderabad.

Then, the sessions swung back into action. The plenary session on ´Technology Strategies for Innovative Cities´ was chaired and moderated by Bipin Kumar, Co-founder, GAIA Smart Cities. The topics discussed included ICT infrastructure as a key enabler of smart cities; IoT and its benefits; big data challenges; technology strategies for innovative cities; developing web-based applications and e-services; and integrating the city to make it smarter. Ranjan, Secretary-IT, Government of Telangana; Aamer Azeemi, Managing Director, CISCO, among others.

At the plenary session, ´Future of Sustainable Built Environment´, the Smart Focus was on rethinking cities in terms of livable and sustainable growth and smart utilities for innovative cities. Speakers included Dipankar Khasnabish, Industry Principal, Infosys Technologies; Udaya Bhaskar Rao Abburu, Managing Director, iRam Technologies; and Dr Ramesh Biswas, Professor, Consultant, AIT, Austria. The moderator was Biju Kadapurath, Director, PwC India.

A parallel session, ´Innovation Hackathon´, aimed to convert urban challenges into opportunities. The app community and students were challenged to come up with solutions that addressed the themes of smart energy, smart mobility, smart waste management and several others. The session showcased the most interesting and exciting solutions, such as drone services from hospital to patient, a smart bin system for tackling waste management and a smart leakage detector for LPG cylinders.

At the next plenary session, ´Mobility for Innovative Cities´, the Smart Focus was on mobility for innovative cities; smart mobility solutions; intelligent transport systems; and parking solutions. Speakers included Prashant Bachu, Director, EMBARQ; and Anil Kumar Saini, Head-Railways, L&T Metro Hyderabad, among others. At the parallel session on ´Water Management´ chaired by JVR Murty, International Development Consultant, the Smart Discussion was on smart technologies for water management; drinking water for all; and harvesting rainwater for better use. Speakers included Tejus Kumar, Head-IT & Integrated Solutions, SPML Infra Ltd; and Prabhakar Kumar, Head, Ion Exchange. The moderator was SVS Sudhakara Rao, Managing Director, EnviroTech Water Management.

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