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India and Sweden partner on smart city solutions

According to a recent report, India and Sweden announced the launch of a joint programme that will work towards addressing a range of challenges around smart cities and clean technologies among others.

The programme was co-funded by the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST) and a Swedish agency.

The Swedish agency will provide funding to Swedish participants up to 2,500,000 Swedish Krona (around Rs 1.87 crore) as a grant. On the Indian side, a conditional grant of up to 50 per cent (with a limit of Rs 1.5 crore) per project will be provided to the Indian partners.

The Ambassador of Sweden to India stated that the India-Sweden Collaborative Industrial Research and Development Programme will see Swedish and Indian innovators work together and develop solutions that benefit both sides.

It was added that India, with its strong talent pool and scale with over a billion people, will play an important role for developing solutions that can address challenges related to healthcare, transportation and public safety.

The Swedish agency is looking at deepening cooperation in the areas of smart cities, energy, digitalisation, life sciences as well as developing our start-up communities.

The Ambassador highlighted that a ‘triple helix’ model of innovation that involves the participation of government, industry and academia would be useful as these partners can work towards using new technologies like artificial intelligence to develop solutions that help meet goals of sustainable development.

It was noted that Swedish companies like that have been present in the Indian market for many years and pointed out that new entrants also have drawn up aggressive expansion plans to tap into the opportunity here.

The Swedish diplomat batted for putting in place free trade pact (FTA) saying “the need for regional and bilateral agreements is important” as industries need predictability.

Negotiations for the much-delayed pact between European Union (which Sweden is a part of) and India have been on for many years now.   

India’s smart city goals

The Indian government is working towards the development of Smart Cities. This includes making governance citizen-friendly and cost-effective – increasingly rely on online services to bring about accountability and transparency, especially using mobiles to reduce the cost of services and providing services without having to go to municipal offices.

Moreover, it involves forming e-groups to listen to people and obtain feedback and use online monitoring of programs and activities with the aid of a cyber tour of worksites.

In addition, developing a smart city includes applying Smart Solutions to infrastructure and services in area-based development in order to make it better. For example, making areas less vulnerable to disasters, using fewer resources, and providing cheaper services.

According to a Government publication, the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) of the Government of India, promotes cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart’ Solutions.

Such Smart Solutions include ICT interventions for e-governance, online government services, and for improving the efficiency of core services at a relatively lower cost. These build upon the IoT (internet of things) that allows the exchange of data over a network, between objects and devices, allowing analysis of real-time data that can be used to usher in a new wave of transformative digital services in cities and enhance citizen services and quality of life.

It was noted that while several such smart solutions have already been proposed by cities as part of their Smart City Proposals, the sector is still in a nascent stage and there is enormous scope for large scale innovation to meet the emerging needs of the sector.

Hence, the partnership with the Swedish agency will help to boost India’s smart city goals.

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