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Tech initiatives for urban planning and governance launched in India

Image credit: GoI_MeitY; Twitter

Several technology-based initiatives for governance were recently unveiled in Delhi, earlier this week. During the launch, the Minister for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Ravi Shankar Prasad, said that the cities will become smarter only if technologies are properly leveraged and that the objectives of Digital India can be achieved through indigenous, developmental, low-cost, and inclusive technology.

National Urban Digital Mission

The National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM) will create a shared digital infrastructure to support cities and towns. It will institutionalise a citizen-centric and ecosystem-driven approach to urban governance and service delivery for 2,022 cities by 2022, and across all cities and towns in India by 2024. It will create a shared digital infrastructure that can consolidate and cross-leverage the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs’ various digital initiatives.

India Urban Data Exchange

The India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX) has been developed by the Smart Cities Mission in partnership with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru. IUDX is a seamless interface for data providers and users, including urban local bodies (ULBs), to share, request, and access datasets related to cities and urban governance and service delivery.

IUDX is an open-source software platform that facilitates the secure, authenticated, and managed exchange of data among data platforms, third-party authenticated and authorised applications, and other sources.

IUDX is designed to address the problem of data silos, both within and across cities. Cities generate large volumes of data, which are recorded by a wide range of entities, both within the government and across the industry, academia, and society. The combination of these datasets can enable rapid innovation and offer a better understanding of and planning for urban needs and challenges.

SmartCode Platform

SmartCode is a platform that enables all ecosystem stakeholders to contribute to a repository of open-source code for solutions and applications for urban governance. It will address the challenges that ULBs face when deploying digital applications to solve urban challenges, by enabling cities to take advantage of existing codes and customising them to suit local needs.

As a repository of open-source software, the source code available on the platform will be free to use without any licensing or subscription fees, thus limiting costs to those involved.

 New Smart Cities Website and GMIS

To better connect with people on the Smart Cities Mission efforts and achievements, and to make it easier for ULBs and citizens to access resources related to their work, the Smart Cities Mission website has been redesigned to be a single stop for all smart city initiatives.

The geospatial management information system (GMIS) has also been integrated on the website. Through a seamless and unified interface, it aggregates all mission-related information from various platforms. The website is a highly effective communication and outreach tool.

Since its launch in 2015, the Smart Cities Mission has made significant strides in its efforts to ensure that the benefits of technology reach all citizens. Over the last year, the mission has seen accelerated project implementation with Smart Cities focusing on grounding and completing projects. Also, over 50 smart cities have transformed their Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCCs) into COVID-19 war rooms.

Further, the Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF) was rolled out in 100 smart cities to help cities with climate change-based urban design and governance. The second round of annual assessment is currently underway.  A Climate Centre for Cities (C3) has been established in the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA. Several national competitions like the India Cycles4Change Challenge, Streets for People, and Nurturing Neighbourhoods have also been implemented.

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