Featuring smart facilities, Jaipur to be a 'Lighthouse City'

Pink City Jaipur has become the first in the country and South Asia to join the “Cisco Lighthouse Cities” to monitor and operate smart city infrastructure using a single network. The futuristic leap brings the heritage city in league with other lighthouse cities — Hamburg, Barcelona and Adelaide. For this, the government has developed a network operating centre (NOC) at the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) headquarters.

Founded by Maharaja Jai Singh and planned by Vidyadhar Bhattacharya in 1727, Jaipur is the living example of a city based on the principles of ‘vastu shastra.’ Already unusually ‘smart’ among pre-modern Indian cities with the regularity of its streets, and its geometric division into six sectors by broad streets, not much has changed in the present times as it gets a `smart city’ tag in the first list.

The Jaipur Smart City will be setup at a cost of Rs 2,500 crore in partnership with technology conglomerate Cisco and has already created IT-enabled services, wi-fi hotspots, installation of video surveillance cameras, interactive kiosks, remote e-governance solutions and parking management systems — all the criteria of a Cisco lighthouse city. The idea of smart city envisages Jaipur as a place where citizen services are smart-enabled for safety of elderly as well as youngsters. For this, it relies on the Smart City App, one of the main features of the project. The government also plans to create 1,000 jobs this year.

Hosted and operated in multinational Genpact’s facility, the centre will serve as an innovation lab to test and deploy the latest smart technology advances from Cisco to help Jaipur become a responsive, smart and connected city.

The NOC services will have smart lights, streetlights which only glow if a person or a vehicle is present. When the density of traffic reduces in the night, these lights will dim automatically. The Jaipur App is the first-of-its-kind, all-purpose, comprehensive app through which residents will be informed about real-time parking availability, shopping venues, working status of smart lights, pollution levels, and important services like fire, ambulance and blood banks. Another feature is Smart Waste Management in which JDA has installed sensor-based dustbins that blink on NOC when 75% of them get filled.

Speed meters with night vision cameras that photograph erring vehicles are supported by display screens on the roads which further guide the driver.

Environmental sensors on 18 screens in the city inform residents about the pollution level and temperatures will soon be installed at 15 more locations. Wi-fi spots at 56 locations is another immensely useful utility. Parking, a nightmare in most developing cities, will become smarter in Jaipur with digital boards to gauge the parking status on the entire stretch and notifying in real time if there’s a slot to park your car.

The NOC will integrate all the recently developed digital infrastructure such as int­elligent kiosks, wireless broadband, sensor-based dust bins, smart streetlights, parking and app, among others. “Jaipur will be am­ong the most tech savvy cities in the country. All the smart projects will be integrated under the NOC. This would help JDA to manage the city with greater efficiency and effe­ctiveness,” asserts Shikhar Agarwal, former commissioner, Jaipur Development and in-charge of Lighthouse City initiative where all facilities will be executive in one go. 

Digital Raja­sthan
Dinesh Malkani, President, Cisco (India and Saarc), believes digitisation will be key to how cities, communities and countries maintain global competitiveness, increase GDP growth, foster innovation and create new jobs. “The foundation for ‘Digital Raja­sthan’ will be intelligent networks which will transform the delivery of citizen services. The future of competition will be between cities. At Cisco, we are committed to partner with the Rajasthan government to lead in this digital transformation,” Malkani said.

With the Cisco Lighthouse initiative, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje believes that the day is not far when, with the vision and inspiration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the city of Jaipur would rank No 1 in the Smart City Mission. She sa­id on its inauguration in January 2017, “Rajasthan is the best equipped state when it comes to embracing digital economy. It st­ands out for making Digital India a reality.”

At the same time, smart city experts have huge hopes from this project. Pradeep Padode, Director, Smart Cities Council, India, asserts that Jaipur has joined the league of Cisco Lighthouse Cities globally such as Hamburg (Germany), Barcelona (Spain) and Adelaide (Australia). “It will be the first such city in South Asia. It is aimed at advancing Jaipur’s vision of becoming a global model and standard for sustainable urban development.”

Jaipur has chosen to develop smart city infrastructure that will improve the efficiency and quality of services received by its 3.5 million residents and over 40 million tourists who visit the city every year. “The focus obviously has to ensure that their main economic lifeline — tourism revenue — is secure and greatly enhanced. Building a backbone infrastructure which enables multiple applications on the same platform is the sustainable way of growth for the city as each service is a “plug & play,” Padode added.

Jaipur ranks third in the Smart Cities Mission and if the lighthouse project turns successful, the concept will be replicated in three other smart cities of Rajasthan -  Udaipur, Kota and Ajmer. However, there are challenges to the project: 1) information dissemination: to communicate the initiatives to cross section of citizens, tourists etc; 2) keeping city clean: a challenge,  since on cleanliness front, Jaipur is not doing well and is  trying hard to gain points in Swachh Survekshan scheme;  and, 3) keeping pace with technology: to check if the existing structures could be retrofitted so that there is a balance between new technology and existing infrastructure.

Besides, the challenges the experts are apprehensive about are the bureaucratic set up, the legacy systems which act as a hindrance to fast decision-making, appropriate procurement process, and development of the right framework for PPPs. But most importantly, how people adapt and interact with these futuristic approaches will decide the fate of city's smartness mission.
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