I asked a few people, including myself, to imagine what a smart city would be like for those of us living in 2016:
It should take us from point A to B in the shortest time possible, automatically deciding for us which route to take.
- It should provide free and fast internet either wired or wi-fi access, of course, in every nook and cranny.
- It should have charging stations in every public place to charge our power hungry smart devices
- It should of course have electricity 24X7
- It should enable seamless connectivity of all transport methods
- All devices, cars, trains, buildings and people should be able to communicate with one another
- Intelligent planning of facilities
- Self-repairing roads, drains, and what not…etc etc
This picture of a smart city sounds like a tall order for us living in Mumbai, even though it is the commercial capital of India! It also sounds extremely power hungry.
But can a city be both green and smart?
What do I mean by a green city? It would be somewhat like a forest. For starters, a green city ecosystem, like a forest, is a scientific and design miracle. Each and every component is recyclable. Forests produce more oxygen than they consume, are carbon sinks and earn huge carbon credits silently, and they mutually help one another to thrive and grow, not just survive! The parts of this ecosystem are self-propagating, require almost zero maintenance, have sophisticated feedback looks both positive and negative, are self-diagnosing and self-repairing, adjust their position and growth as per various variables like the temperature, sunlight, wind, water availability and nutrients.
Wow, now that simple forest sounds really smart when you look at it in that way!
Okay, but no one can stay in forests, right? So what is the next best option? How about something that looks like this?
A city that is both smart and green? Some would dismiss this as a utopian concept, but I am confident that given enough freedom, creativity and encouragement, the future generation can create living spaces that are at once green and smart.
Let us see where we can start if we really wish for our city to be smart and green. I feel there are three very important pre requisites if we really wish to create a smart and green city:
Firstly, there has to be basic value and respect for human life and a recognition that life has a purpose. If life does not have a purpose, one might as well live in a filthy slum, who cares.
Secondly we must be humble enough to admit that there are designs in nature from which we can learn. The field of bio-mimetics has produced some extremely clever inventions by copying what God has created in his marvelous creation.
Thirdly there must be a culture that respects and encourages creativity, honesty and truth.
In such a city, there is no end to the possibilities that can be created, and a smart and green city would indeed be a reality. Hope we in India can reach that stage sooner than later. Jai Hind!