Large-scale smart city projects in India has some pitfalls

India is on the threshold of transformation, and some towns have earmarked for a slew of development activities which will transform them to the level of smart cities. A city where there is no paper currency, Internet of Things (IoT) is the dominating way of life and all amenities at the tip of a finger on a click of a mouse.

The road is tough and full of impediments. At present, the country is in the throes of demonetization which could well be the first step in the large scale digitization of economy. The population is enduring the labor pains of the birth of a digital India. However, there are skeptics who have doubts about the viability of smart cities. According to a report by Gartner, less than 10% of the smart city projects across India will risk failure because of a lack of holistic and a framework based approach.

The biggest issue is the lack of connectivity of different components in the smart city projects.  Revenue Sustainability is also a big problem. There has been no structured approach while choosing the cities for this ambitious endeavor.  For the projects to succeed, there is a need for leaders who are proficient in technology product management to lead these ventures, something which is lacking in most city councils. The focus must be on long-term, consultative approach and sustainable revenue models.

Gartner further added that involving the major decision-making officials in city and state departments in large-scale infrastructure projects which must include a substantial proportion of internet of things. One downfall of this approach is the lack of employment for the blue collar and unskilled labor. India has a large percentage of its population living under what could be described as subsistence level, and this makes this part of the population most vulnerable. Hence efforts to provide proper skills to the unskilled workforce must also go hand in hand.

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