Smart  city diagram

In partnership with India-based Centre for Sustainable Development the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition to advance smart city development and innovation is to open a new regional chapter in India.

The Council’s membership includes leading businesses in areas such as smart energy, water and transportation. Members clearly feel that collaboration can help find solutions for growing urban challenges as well as seeing business opportunities for themselves. 

India therefore becomes the first regional chapter of the Global Smart Cities Council. The announcement was made at a forum held yesterday in Bangalore – Cities of the Future: Smart and Sustainable – marked the launch of the collaboration.

Though the concept of smart cities is relatively new in India, it is well on the path to creating them. Kamal Nath, Union Minister for Urban Development, is on record as saying: “Under JNNURM Phase II, every state will have at least one smart city”.

With a population expected to reach 590 million by 2030, nearly twice that of the United States, Indian cities are poised to experience tremendous pressure on urban infrastructure and key public services. Additionally, its rapidly growing economy makes it an obvious location to leverage information and communications technology to help cities on a global scale. 

"The Smart Cities Council provides cities with the resources to assess their ability to innovate. Our Partners and Advisors across the globe will help set priorities and begin implementation for city development," said Smart Cities Council Executive Director Jim Whittaker. “We are fortunate to partner with the Centre for Sustainable Development; this unique collaboration marries our expertise with a world renowned organization whose knowledge and understanding of India's issues and challenges will benefit every city in India."   

The Centre for Sustainable Development (CSD) is a non-profit organization located in the City of Bangalore, the IT and knowledge capital of India.  Led by a distinguished board, they promote sustainable development through programs that engage diverse stakeholders and build capacity to achieve sustainability across sectors. 

“The aligning goals of the Centre for Sustainable Development and the Smart Cities Council made it an obvious partnership for us,” said Dr. A. Ravindra, Chairman of the Centre for Sustainable Development. “Our missions, skills, activities and expertise mutually reinforce each other.  Together, we can clearly envision a collaboration that will shape the agenda of smart cities in India.”

'Smart' in this case means infrastructure, which is not necessarily the smartest way to be sustainable. Big business clearly sees huge opportunities to make money. The big businesses who have jumped on board the council since it was formed in 2012 include: IBM, Bechtel, Grid2020, MasterCard and MicrosoftBrigade Group is to be a partner in Smart City Council India.

True sustainability is about finding low-tech, local solutions that will have the lowest ecological footprint. But there is also a challenge to find citywide solutions that have economies of scale. This is a different kind of smart, and here is where the Council's advisory board can make the greatest contribution. This consists of over 50 of the world's leading universities, national laboratories, standards bodies, climate advocacy groups, as well as development banks. 

The Council is a response to rapidly growing cities and a lack of coordination to build or expand urban infrastructure that utilizes technology to work efficiently across an entire city.

To address these barriers, the Council recently released version 1.0 of the Smart Cities Council Readiness Guide, the first comprehensive, vendor-neutral smart city handbook for city leaders and planners. Designed with input from its partners and advisors, the guide enables city leaders around the globe to assess their current state of technology and its readiness to become a smart city.