Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Don't Know What's Smart City?..... Now you'll Know

The concept of Smart City is fast taking root globally with various countries committing huge resources in their Smart City initiatives. There are numerous emerging models of Smart Cities differing in sizes and types. This is because the idea of the Smart City is relatively new and evolving, and the concept is very broad. It is important to point out here in the context of both developed and emerging models that each city is unique, with its own historical development path, current characteristics and future dynamic. The evolution of the Smart City concept is shaped by a complex mix of technologies, social and economic factors, governance arrangements, and policy and business drivers. The implementation of the Smart City concept, therefore, follows very varied paths depending on each city’s specific policies, objectives, funding and scope. Any useful working definition of a Smart City needs to incorporate these highly diverse circumstances while still enabling improved understanding of good practice, the potential for scaling and the development of relevant policy frameworks.
Provided below is the compilation of different definitions by practitioners, academic experts and other renowned people. The compilation is categorized in various segments based upon the focus on technology and/or processes:
Technology Focused Definitions
  • The use of ICT [makes] the critical infrastructure components and services of a Smart City – which include city administration, education, healthcare, public safety, real estate, transportation, and utilities – more intelligent, interconnected, and efficient. - Washburn and Sindhu (2009)
  • Cities [should be seen as] systems of systems, and that there are emerging opportunities to introduce digital nervous systems, intelligent responsiveness, and optimization at every level of system integration. - MIT (2013)
  • In a Smart City, networks are linked together, supporting and positively feeding off each other, so that the technology and data gathering should: be able to constantly gather, analyze and distribute data about the city to optimize efficiency and effectiveness in the pursuit of competitiveness and sustainability; be able to communicate and share such data and information around the city using common definitions and standards so it can be easily re-used; be able to act multi-functionally, which means they should provide solutions to multiple problems from a holistic city perspective. - Copenhagen Cleantech Cluster (2012)
Broad Definitions
  • A city is smart when investments in human and social capital and traditional and modern communication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic growth and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory governance.- Caragliu, Del Bo and Nijkamp (2009)
  • A [smart] city is where the ICT strengthens freedom of speech and the accessibility to public information and services.- Anthopoulos and Fitsilis (2010)
  • [Smart Cities are about] leveraging interoperability within and across policy domains of the city (e.g. transportation, public safety, energy, education, healthcare, and development). Smart City strategies require innovative ways of interacting with stakeholders, managing resources, and providing services. - Nam and Pardo (2011)
  • Smart Cities combine diverse technologies to reduce their environmental impact and offer citizens better lives. This is not, however, simply a technical challenge. Organisational change in governments – and indeed society at large – is just as essential. Making a city smart is therefore a very multi-disciplinary challenge, bringing together city officials, innovative suppliers, national and EU policymakers, academics and civil society. - Smart Cities and Communities (2013)
  • [a city may be called ‘smart’] when investments in human and social capital and traditional and modern communication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic growth and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory governance. - Schaffers et al. (2011)
  • Any adequate model for the Smart City must therefore also focus on the Smartness of its citizens and communities and on their well-being and quality of life, as well as encourage the processes that make cities important to people and which might well sustain very different – sometimes conflicting activities.- Haque (2012)
It is evident from the definitions above ( including non technology focussed broad definitions) that ICTs make an integral part of any Smart City initiatives. Time has come to focus on” IT first “ strategic approach so that the ICT teams in various organizations can inform all the stakeholders on ways of effectively leveraging the potential of Information and Communication technologies while devising plans even for sector based interventions.

Vikas Kanungo

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Life of an average citizen in 2015…… Only if we realized the potential of mobile applications today!

It is early one summer morning in the year 2015. Daivik and Samriddhi, a brother and sister duo living in Delhi, are on their way to work.. On the way, Daivik stops outside the Metro Terminal of Jan Path, where Samriddhi will catch the next train to Gurgaon. She quickly checks the schedule on the dedicated Metro Rail application loaded onto her mobile’s SIM card. The next train is on time, about to arrive in 170 seconds. She hits the sequence of buttons on her mobile phone that would reserve her seat, and pays for it with a quick data link from her mobile to the payment transaction machine installed at the entry gate of the Metro station. She is filled with appreciation for the visionary officers at Metro Rail Corporation who realized the potential of mobile based applications early on to make the ticketing and traveling on Metro Rail so convenient for the passengers of the city. Almost everyone in the city has a mobile phone with pre-installed applications for public services.

An hour later, Daivik is standing in line at the Post Office’s customer service desk. He remembers with the sense of pride that three years back, the then IT minister had taken a decision to upgrade the Post offices and equip them with the latest communication tools to handle the demands of the fast growing Information Society. Daivik is in the post office to upgrade his physical post box to a digital one. The officer at the customer service desk will take half an hour to upgrade his post box after verifying his credentials based upon his National ID card details and accessing relevant information from Secure National Citizen Database that caters to the information needs of all the central and state government agencies. After the up-gradation is carried out, he will be able to have all his post, including bills, bank statements and official notices, stored electronically, and he will be able to get access to it via his Internet connections at home and the office, or using the 3G data services available on his handheld. No one now uses paper for communication.

There are very few people left now who still don’t have access to mobile phones. Those with no electronic access at home or work have now been given electronic post box accounts and can send/receive post through the special Public Access Terminals at their nearest Common Service Centers (CSCs). These public access terminals at CSCs have specially trained staff to assist the illiterate, disabled and senior citizens. Thankfully, because of the efforts of the government agency CDAC and their PPP initiative with the Telecom players, the messages can be either received in print format or through voice/video mail in the language of choice of the citizens. The citizens also have the choice of typing letters in at the terminals in CSCs, or writing them at home and having them scanned in at the CSCs. With a few exceptions, actual deliveries have been limited to parcel drop-offs. Even Daivik’s mother living in her village Farm House is e-mailing him with updates on her medical condition. Just a few years back, she could be found complaining constantly of not being able to communicate with her son and grandchildren. Now she uses the assistance of the officer at the CSC’s Public Access Terminal as if they have always been part of her life. The guy at the kiosk has become like her family member and even visits her at home to get the messages for her son when she is not feeling comfortable enough to walk unto the CSC. Of course, she has no idea that it is all made possible by the combination of a wireless local area network known as Wi-Fi and the cellular network providers’ tall masts that connect to the state Wide Area Network (SWAN) of the government. The only thing she cares about is that it works.

Finally, Daivik reaches the window. He holds up his mobile phone that also stores his National ID in the digital format, hits the digital signature button, and his identity details are beamed across to the terminal. A moment later, it beams an encrypted access code into his mobile phone device. Daivik can now add digital mail to his array of messaging options, from e-mail and instant messaging to voicemail and video-mail to positioning and remote working. Just to make sure the new codes haven’t corrupted the data already stored on his mobile device, Daivik quickly types the key sequence for his daughter’s location. The name of the school flashes up on the screen, with duration at the location, and request for confirmation of contact. He clicks the cancel button. In the past, he has not been able to resist the temptation to confirm the request, and tell his son or daughter exactly where they are. The embarrassment it has caused for them, having “daddy check up on his babies” has made him well aware that he should use the full functionality of his mobile phone application only when it is necessary. The fact is, he reminds himself, the child locator application was provided by the State Police to ensure general safety of children, not for parents to play nanny every minute of the day, and not as a replacement for child care. If the child hits the emergency key, or the locator is forcibly removed, or the child is not in the appropriate location, that will be the time for action.

As he leaves for his home from the post office, Daivik is stopped by Delhi Police. It’s a routine check. Daivik hands his driver’s license to the police officer, who scans it into his handheld crime-check device. While the details are being verified by a database in Police Headquarter of Delhi Police as well as with the national crime database hosted at a secret location, the officer keys in the car’s registration number. Instantly the screen displays the offences history of the car and driver, and current status. Daivik is clean. The officer hands back his license and waves him on. Daivik drives into the community parking garage of his colony, and the boom automatically swings open as a remote sensor detects the e-tag in his car.

Latter in the evening, while strolling past the one-stop government services centre at the urban mall, he marvels once again at the absence of queues. Since they have allowed people to fill in applications at Common Service Centers, verify their identities through fingerprint scanners and their national ID Card , and pay a nominal fee to be advised via SMS of documents being ready, lines of people waiting to apply for or receive government services have become a quaint footnote in history.

Next day morning, at the Municipal Corporation of Delhi Office, where Daivik works, the front door slides open instantly as it scans the new arrival for an identity e-tag, and picks up and verifies the passive signal in Daivik’s mobile device. But there’s a problem: the lifts aren’t working this morning – again! Thank goodness for government hotspots along with a facility of docking stations for the mobile devices, Daivik thinks as he sits down in the reception lounge and takes out his laptop. He switches it on, and it instantly detects the Wi-Fi access point. Daivik logs on, and he is connected to the network as if he is in his own office. He smiles at a colleague who has hooked his mobile phone to the docking station and connected to the same office network..

The scenarios mentioned above are not a day dream, but can become reality sooner than 2015, only if we realized the potential of mobile applications and joined hand to make this a reality. I would like to request all the readers of this blog post to add their scenarios to the list. We will collectively identify the scenarios that can be turned into reality with the help of application service developers and also connect the developers to the service providers. Welcome to the ear of demand driven public services… together we can make a difference and provide an ambient intelligent environment to our next generation of which they can be proud.!!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Vikas Kanungo - e-Government & m-Government Expert

Current Affiliations

You can contact me for...
  • Strategic consulting on e-Government and mobile government - Consulting and advice to e-Governmenr solution providers, government agencies, multilateral development agencies and CSOs on creating strategies for effective e-Government plans.
  • Public Speaking and Training - Training on planning , implementing and monitoring e-Government and m-Government projects. I am available as a speaker , panel member , moderator on e-Government , mobile- government , ICT for development and MDG issues. I have trained many government officers, Industry participants and professionals on e-Government.
  • Reserach and short term onsite consulting - Help clients in market studies and key trends in South Asian markets especially India, evaluation of existing e-Government and ICT projects, country reports on ICT and e-Government and community development

Career Summary & Key Skills

Fifteen years of experience in managing ICT with specific experience of 8 years in e-government training and consulting and 6 years in e-Government /knowledge management initiatives. Leadership roles in ICT for Development, e-governance issues, founding ICT based social initiatives, supporting social entrepreneurs in ICT for Development, Corporate Head of Relations, Head of Country Operations, Project Manager, Trainer and Consultant. Advisory roles in development of communities of practice on ICT and e-Governance , member of various international online communities on Gender issues, ICT for development and e-governance. Have authored many papers for presentation at various national and international events.
An excellent track record on ICT strategy consulting to govt. and defense departments, event management, PR, mentoring of civil society organizations, project and client management as well as developing new initiatives. Excellent communication, leadership, deal structuring, negotiation, and problem solving skills.
Skill Areas
  • Information Society, the new economy, the network (digital) economy
  • e-government and mobile government
  • Regional development
  • Socio-economic development
  • Socio-economic and market impact assessment of Information and Communication technologies
  • Management of change: organizational (sectoral, regional) strategies for adapting to, and exploiting, the Information Society
  • ICTs as tools in socio-economic and regional development
  • Education and training
  • Distance and continuing/open education
  • Skills and competence development
  • Multi-disciplinary studies
  • Project planning, implementation, monitoring, management and evaluation
  • Institutional development, organization and management, and institution building
  • Human resources development
  • Policy assessment and evidence-based policy development and implementation
Publications / Presentations
  • e-Government research priorities for achieving vision 2020 ” , keynote address delivered during Consultation Workshop on e-Government Research organized by European Commission on October 26-27, 2005 in Brussels, Denmark
  • “ e-Government foresight for research priorities” , presentation delivered during the e-Government Research and Policy Challenges organized by IPTS, European Commission in Seville, Spain on October 2-3,2005.
  • India’s Roadmap for transformation (Analysis of national e-Governance Plan of India”.
  • “e-Government development in SAARC region- Comparative status of various countries -A paper presented during International Conference on Best Practices of e-Government and e-city: Vision, Innovations and Opportunities from 13-16 June 2005 at Ipoh City , Malaysia. The conference was organized by IPOH City Council with the support of Asia IT&C programme of European Commission.
  • “e-Government strategic framework for developing countries” , a paper presented during international conference on building partnerships for ICT implementations organized by Bellanet – SAP Nepal in Kathmandu , Nepal in march 2005.
  • Electronic Public Services- Roadmap for technology framework , ( Journal of 8th National conference on e-governance organized by Department of IT and DARPG , Govt. of India –2005)
  • “ Citizen Centric Governance in India”, published in ASSOCHAM – WORLD Bank vision document titled e-governance, Transforming India ( Year 2003)
  • Societal, Ethical and Legal Implication of ICT (ICT Policy workshop for CSOs by GIPI India) and National conference on e-Governance held in West Godawari District, 2004.
  • Nations in Cyber Era – “International Conference on Politics and Information Systems, Technologies and Applications (PISTA 2004) and the International Conference on Cybernetics and Information Technologies, Systems and Applications. Orlando, US
  • E-Governance in India-an Implementation Roadmap – “National conference on e-Business solutions (6th March 2002 by Institute of Electronics and telecommunications Engineers)
  • Balancing Gender Equity in Knowledge Society – International Seminar on Women in e-Governance organized by Annamalai University, November 2004.

My email ID vikaskanungo at egovindia dot org

Saturday, July 30, 2005

My Contact Details

Vikas Kanungo

Chairman -The Society for Promotion of e-Governance (SPeG)
Chief Editor - Government@24/7
email :
Mobile : 9312722591

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Research papers and Publications

1. Balancing Gender Equity in Information Society

Paper presented during the National Conference on " Women in e-Governance" held in India ( Annamalai University) on December 20,21,2004.

This paper has been compiled based upon findings and recommendations of various studies conducted by International organizations and is aimed at mapping regional ICT/e-Governance policy framework and legislation environment for India and other developing countries from a gender perspective and suggest measures directed at balancing the gender participation in formulating national policies on ICT/e-governance thereby narrowing the gender digital divide.
2. Nations in Cyber Era - Legal , Societal and Ethical Issues
I have been interacting with various government agencies and public sector undertakings during the course of my association with them as e-governance strategy consultant investigating the political , economic and social trends. One of the very important aspect of my work had been the study of likely changes the technology is poised to bring between government and the citizens in the coming decade. This paper throws light on some of these issues.