THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, MAY 31:
Proposed smart cities would need to get their e-governance model right to justify the big expectations built around them, say top honchos at digital technology services provider UST Global.
A smart city is far from being a greenfield project, say Alexander Varghese, Chief Administrator and Country Head, and Hari Chandrasekaran, VP and Global Head, Public Sector.
Experience from MP
The company is working on a unique project called ‘e-Nagarpalika’ with the Madhya Pradesh government to lay foundation for its digital economy. e-Nagarpalika seeks to implement an e-governance platform that connects 378 urban local bodies — 16 municipal corporations, 98 municipal councils and 264 nagar panchayats.
The Madhya Pradesh government has proposed to set up seven Smart Cities and 11 Amrut cities. e-Nagarpalika will serve as the unified urban operating system for these cities. The received wisdom here is that e-government is never born overnight. Going digital should always be seen as a process with incremental steps, the head honchos said.
These must constantly improve existing digital infrastructure and service provisions.
No greenfield project
“A smart city is purely a brownfield implementation with components that are at different stages of maturity,” explained Chandrashekaran.
To make all work together as one single programme, the level of intervention, automation and modernisation needed, have to be measured for each, and then put together under a holistic plan.
“After all, you’re talking about an existing community of beneficiaries accessing various utilities such as water supply and power, among others,” said Varghese.
A smart city is quite unlike a city such as Chandigarh that was built up from nowhere. According to him, e-governance systems employed in States like Kerala are fragmented. None of them talk to each other.
One of the prerequisites here is a solid platform for citizen services. Entire analytics meant to benefit citizens is actually going to sit on top of it.
No scalable model
So if you don’t think through end-to-end on on how this platform is going to scale, and instead try to integrate fragmented systems, it will only fail.
“Our experience in building such a platform for Madhya Pradesh, where we have implemented 32 services, has been unique,” Varghese said.
These range form waste disposal, dog catching and tree cutting to ambulance services and payment gateways to serve even feature phones.
Does it involve service providers from outside? “Yes, this is an important component in a smart city project.”
The asset owner and the service provider are different. That calls for a tight working relationship. So they are also linked up, holistically.
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