In India around 30 people move to a city every minute. By 2030 our urban population will number 843 million and over the next 13 years, cities will account for 75% of GDP and 80% of economic growth. The pressure on housing, infrastructure, health education and services present monumental challenges to planners and citizens alike. These factors add to rising pollution and costs of living, which calls for more efficient and rigorous urban planning.
As India’s top tier cities are attracting the majority of newcomers, they are rapidly becoming megacities. Retrofitting these conurbations with new roads, railways, water, sanitation, energy and solid waste management is crucial for society’s progress and well-being. Digital infrastructure with robust ICT is equally important to assure economic growth, participation in e-Governance and to benefit from the evolution of India’s Smart Cities Programme. Coordinating these elements into a single source of control and command is a significant challenge, but it is one that can be met.
The key to achieving sustainable urban progress is deploying a data resource around which central and local government strategists and planners can collaborate and innovate with partners, suppliers, contractors and citizens. When all stakeholders have access to such a transparent, holistic, multidimensional information resource, it turns data into knowledge and achieves better validated plans budgets, outcomes and accountability.
Many central and local government departments and their commercial partners work in isolation using information that is deposited in unconnected silos. This leads to lack of coordination between departments and stakeholder whose perception and decisions are based on incomplete or out of date information. Because the amount of information and data from sources such as GIS, sensors, devices and cameras multiplies exponentially over time, hosting data on anything other than a single unified platform means that people cannot see the big picture or its mass of fine detail. Without this resource, they are unable to fully comprehend the impact of planning decisions due to lack of knowledge sharing.
Cities need to be viewed and planned as living entities, where every element and every citizen is a part of the whole. It is important to fully understand the impact of changes and their influence on the entire organism and its environment. If we analyse the patterns and interactions between people and systems; such as transport and waste management, we can develop cities that are great places to live while also being highly efficient and sustainable, but in new terms.
Innovative city planners are therefore deploying technology from aerospace and other innovative industries including F1 motor racing, in a drive to improve services, promote universal access to information, and accurately envision future performance.
Sharing data on a unified platform leads to clarity, simplification and inter-departmental coordination, which, in turn produces higher levels of project discipline, with standardized documentation and procurement processes together with development phase synchronization. These combine to reduce risk by offering clearer project insight.
With a single unified data source planner, rather than reacting to situations as they develop can examine many what-if scenarios to find the most beneficially optimised solutions. The strategy makes the best use of resources and funds for both public’s and government’s mutual benefit – a political no brainer.
This is being put into practice where together with The National Research Foundation of Singapore we are developing the first, fully functional 3D model of an entire country. The 5.3 million population city state is developing as a 3DEXPERIECity aiming to create a digital virtual city model that enables urban planners to develop, study, test and innovate ideas. Advanced information and modeling technology allow Virtual Singapore to be infused with static and dynamic city data and information. The city model employs data analytics and 3D simulation capabilities for testing concepts and services, planning, decision-making, researching technologies and generating community collaboration.
India can give every city dweller a better, more secure life and the opportunity to share the rewards that successful government inspired programmes for economic and social progress offer. The dots of city planning are now being joined with technology that helps realise city regeneration policies on time and to budget, for the benefit of all India.