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Data driven cities fostering urban innovation

Rapid and mass urbanization is compelling cities to map and streamline their resources to quickly scale integrated citizen services and improve the livability of cities. These issues require work process improvements, basic digitization, integration of datasets, development of standards and protocols – innovative ideas and solutions – tools that help develop new insights and deliver higher performance per rupee. In India these issues become even more complex as we deal with aging or lack of infrastructure, high population density, extreme weather conditions and other socio-economic and environment factors.

Innovative cities all over the world are investing in data development and are embracing collaborative practices: such as encouraging open data, public-private partnerships and knowledge exchange that support the innovation ecosystem – resulting in social and economic growth. In India, we are just beginning the dialogue on the development of such knowledge infrastructure and it is important that we steer the way for future smart city development where the massive amount of data that is constantly being generated will result invaluable insights.

Leveraging its rich cultural and natural heritage, strong human capital and strong business environment as key strengths, Pune aspires to become the most livable city in India by solving its core infrastructure issues in a “Future-Proof” way, and by making its neighborhoods beautiful, clean, green and livable through involvement of the community of Pune.

Manojit Bose, Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO), Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited, speaks about what according to him Pune needs to do in order to begin formalizing data for urban innovation and what that will mean for the city.

Also Read: Six technologies crucial for smart cities

The Indian government is increasingly collecting data in machine-readable forms to facilitate e-governance, how can emerging technologies like AI, IoT, Big Data… help in building smarter governance systems?

Technology is an important enabler in various aspects of city operations.  And now, more than ever before, intersection of several new technologies is enabling a whole new set of capabilities. Each alone is important, but together, their convergence is what is essential for innovation in the true sense to happen. For example, carrying out sentiment analysis on social media feeds, analysis of grievance related feedback received through various social media tools available today can provide valuable and actionable insights to act upon, bringing in higher levels of transparency and accountability. There are several other use cases focusing on improved efficiencies or improved live ability for the city residents which can be conceptualized and implemented leveraging the confluence of these emerging technologies. A smart city is digital at its core. The emerging technologies cited above and several others are only catalyzing its adoption for the benefit of all the stakeholders.

What role do you think location data plays in making a city smart? What initiatives is Pune taking?

Location data plays an extremely important role in almost every aspect of a Smart City development. GIS integrates all aspects of city planning and management providing a common and unified view of city operations to the stakeholders. Pune Municipal Corporation has designed the base map of the city on GIS portal which is integrated with the Smart City Command & Control Centre. Several other initiatives including use case developments are being planned by Pune Smart City which will extensively leverage location data and build upon the investments made so far .

How do you suppose the innovation ecosystem will leverage the data being created through digitizing the movements of humans and goods, and track transactions?

We have an operational Command & Control Centre. There are over a 1000 + IoT devices, including environmental sensors, flood sensors etc. integrated with this Command Centre. Moreover, several other city-based applications are also integrated including the CCTV camera surveillance network. The data in our Command Centre is made available to start ups, enterprise businesses and developers anywhere through the city data exchange by Open APIs. Soft launch of the city data exchange, known as the Pune Urban Data Exchange, is expected shortly. Moreover, we are also trying to have private sector data sets available in the city data exchange which we are setting up in partnership with Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and Smart Cities Mission, MoHUA, Government of India. We have conducted several hackathons in partnership with Niti Ayog, EU and other agencies on various themes including mobility, health, education etc., where our data was made available to the participants for development of innovative prototypes/solutions etc. leveraging emerging technologies. In one specific instance a technology major worked on our environmental sensor data and leveraging ML developed a model to predict AQI levels. In partnership with Dell Technologies we are in the process of shortly setting up a center of excellence for analytics which will provide a test bed for trying out various kinds of analytics using our own data for problem solving and other purposes.

What are the collaborations across different stakeholders in Pune’s case? Please highlight with relevant examples (Last mile connectivity, smart health, etc)

In Pune over the last year and a half we have been able to build up a robust ecosystem of partners comprising of the academia, government, industry and the startups. Some of our partners include Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, The PLUS Alliance consisting of UNSW, Sydney, Kings College, London, Arizona State University, Pune University, not for profit applied research institutions like Wadhwani AI, technology leaders like DELL, Tom Tom, Ford Smart Mobility, not for profit organizations like NASSCOM, DSCI and various startups amongst others. We also work very closely with Niti Ayog and other government departments both at the Centre and in the city, over and above the Smart Cities Mission, Government of India. Most of the data and technology led innovation initiatives which we have undertaken and plan to undertake going ahead are all consortium based.

What are the key challenges you are facing in developing maintaining Pune as a Smart City?

I guess the key challenge is to fulfill the expectations of the citizens, who are also right in their own way. Smart city development is a journey and not a destination. And things take time to evolve given the complex nature of the initiative and the fact that what we are trying to do is in a brown field setting.

The 20th edition of GeoSmart India aims to develop thought leadership on how cities can use emerging and converging technologies to build digitally empowered societies that will help realize “India’s trillion dollar digital opportunity”.

The Smart Cities track at GeoSmart India will feature technology experts and prominent leaders of the government to help understand the potential of converging technologies and how they will empower urban transformations. This will be a platform that will enable us to drive technology to think, recognize, learn, problem-solve and carry out decision-making in the development of Smart Cities in India. The Smart Cities track is an initiative dedicated to open, inclusive, formal and informal dialogue on Smart City issues among all interested stakeholders.

To know more please visit www.geosmartindia.net