Why do we need Smart City? What do you mean by Smart City? When a city like Madurai does not have good roads, drinking water or other basic amenities, what does the Smart City initiative mean? Such questions were posed by the audience, mainly students, at a day-long national-level seminar on ‘Gender challenges in Smart Cities: Interventions and innovations through cyberspace and ICT,’ organised by Thiagarajar College here on Wednesday.
Delivering the keynote address, Visalakshi Kannan, founder and CEO, Raman Technologies, Washington DC, said that there might be different parameters for developing a Smart City, but the most important would be people’s attitude to adapt to change.
Explaining how people in different countries, such as The Netherlands and Bhutan, remained happy and safe,, she said that out of the five steps of basic needs, safety needs, social needs, social esteem and self-actualisation, they had achieved the first two and were able to move forward.
These countries earmarked funds not just for welfare, but also for all sectors.
Time had come for us to move forward and be part of the change in our city as well, Ms. Kannan said, and urged youngsters to engage themselves in activities that would give a new meaning to happy living.
For a city to change into a Smart City, political stability was very important. It was a concept, where there was more safety and less crime. “We can take good ideas from successful cities and implement them in our cities,” she said.
Stating that the UAE had appointed a Minister of State for Happiness, he said in India, Madhya Pradesh had a Department of Happiness. Bhutan measured the country’s Gross National Happiness, she noted.
Talking on ‘Smart women in smart city environment,’ Payal Mago, Member, UGC Women’s Studies Division, said only when women were safe, a city could be described as a smart city.
Assistant City Health Officer R. Parthiban stressed two aspects – the importance of education for girls and modern day health care and technology. He explained how new concepts like M-health and E-health helped the needy. Through SMS or tele-medicine advice from doctors, diagnosis and treatment could happen. A smart city included such concepts, he added.
Other speakers included architect R. Balaji, Kavita Fenn Arunkumar, N. Manimekalai and EKTA Director Bimla Chandrasekar. College Principal M. Eyini welcomed the gathering.
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