Already, people have the tools to make their neck of the woods smarter. They have sophisticated communication-based personal gadgets. With customised software applications, these gadgets could be used to improve neighbourhoods.
Given this, a smart city may begin at home after all. With the technology at their disposal, and some encouragement and assistance from government agencies, residents may be able to participate actively in the creation of smart cities, say experts. “People have already found ways of living smartly. Take the residents of Chennai. Through various social media channels, they are saving themselves time and resources. Examples: Chennai Shopping, Chennai Food Guide and Chennai Moore Market. Volunteering for causes also happens through similar channels. From here, it’s easy to take the next step, which is using technology for the larger good of their neighbourhoods,” says Sorav Jain, social media trainer.
Environmental Foundation of India organises lake clean-ups and other environmental programmes through a band of young volunteers. Its founder Arun Krishanamurthy and his team are now engaged in creating an app — EFI: Know Your City — which is expected to lead residents to participate in such initiatives.
“The idea for this app came to me when I was using Zomato, which introduces you to the restaurants in a place you are passing by. The EFI app informs a resident about the natural resources in any part of Chennai he may be passing by. The information may include the challenges faced in keeping, say, a waterbody clean, which could instil in the user a sense of responsibility towards it,” explains Mr. Krishnamurthy.
And then, it takes the most basic smartphone for a resident to use apps designed to influence authorities to improve civic facilities. Christopher Kost, technical director, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, says some of these apps allow users to evaluate transport systems, roads, footpaths and other civic infrastructure. He cites the example of ‘safetipin’. “Let’s assume a commuter is at Madhya Kailash and he wants to make an observation about a bus stop there. Through this app, he could type out his thoughts and have them uploaded,” explains Mr. Kost.
‘Efficient mobility’ is a component of smart cities. A network of mass transit systems, made easy-to-use through technology, is the larger goal. However, residents can use technology hyper-locally, in smaller ways, for better mobility. Car-pooling in many Indian cities has not taken off, primarily due to security concerns and fear of the unknown.
A car-pooling app customised for a small neighbourhood could be a smart solution to this problem.
Google Play Store.… Personal & Women Safety App
Google Play Store…. Safetipin Track App