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At smart cities camp, municipal leaders learn about successful urban models

This camp is the second stage after the states have recommended their respective choices for smart cities. From here, the 98 applications will be shortlisted and 20 winners will be selected.

Written by Shiny Varghese | New Delhi | Published: October 7, 2015 3:35 am

“Why in this city and not somewhere else?” is the question that civic officials had to answer at the smart cities ideas camp in Delhi. The two-day workshop, which began on Tuesday, brought together municipal leaders across the country to learn about successful urban models that have worked for cities, in India and abroad.

Organised by Bloomberg Philanthropies — the official knowledge partner of the Ministry of Urban Development’s Smart Cities Challenge — the sessions were aimed at setting goals for the city, understanding citizen engagement, exploring smart solutions to everyday urban issues and working out financing for projects.

When each representative from the 98 participating cities leaves the JW Marriott Hotel New Delhi Aerocity, they will carry with them a self-assessment checklist and a 17-page document, which provides guidelines for assessing a city — from health and education to energy supply and waste management.

This camp is the second stage after the states have recommended their respective choices for smart cities. From here, the 98 applications will be shortlisted and 20 winners will be selected.

“The ministry is looking at proposals in three ways — a city’s unique vision, which will reflect its local context, resources and aspirations of its people; an end-city development, which through the use of technology and information can improve and affect greater number of people, and finally area-base development, such as retrofitting a slum or upgrading the sewage treatment or better transportation in the area,” said James Anderson, head of government innovation programmes, Bloomberg Philanthropies.

In a session on envisioning goals for a city, the participants were taken to a mental gym to work out the strengths and weaknesses of a particular city and then to envision what they wanted their city to be 25 years from now.

“Municipal officials rarely get a chance to interact with their peers. And municipalities always have to do more than they actually have the resources for. There are always financial hurdles and people expect the same experience from them as they do from, say a Starbucks. So there certainly is a need for the government to create a platform for partnerships and co-creation…,” said Anderson.

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