Workshop on Smart Cities: Mobility and Infrastructure in the 21st Century, Kolkata

Date: 
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Venue: 
Observer Research Foundation Kolkata, New Town, Rajarhat, Kolkata

Under the umbrella of the German House for Research and Innovation (DWIH) in New Delhi, prominent institutes from Germany and India, intend to conduct several Indo-German workshops in India that focus on the potentials and the challenges of the concept of smart cities. The events will be coordinated by the Heidelberg Centre South Asia (Branch Office of the Heidelberg University in India), supported by Friedrich Naumann Foundation and are part of a series of pre-events leading to the DWIH annual conference CityScapes, which will take place between September 29th and October 1st, 2016 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

The concept of smart cities has been well received in both research and policy practice. While it actually encompasses a variety of approaches, the common overarching theme is to look at urban challenges from an integral perspective, to foster sustainability and to explore the opportunities that communication technology offers. It is viewed as a solution for cities to better cope with key societal challenges like energy transition, mobility and social innovation through extensive and effective use of big data and IT. This, in turn, calls for new modes of ‘smart’ planning, design and governance, with the active involvement of a wide diversity of public, private and citizens’ organizations. In India, the Smart Cities Mission represents an urban renewal and retrofitting program by the Government with a mission to develop 100 cities all over the country making them citizen-friendly and sustainable.

The idea of ‘smart cities’ cannot be realized without inter-disciplinary inputs and collective ideation. Towards this, the workshops intend to bring together experts from India and Germany to not only openly discuss opportunities and benefits of smart cities, but also critically look at the challenges that may arise. What makes a city ‘smart’? What potentials do cities have to achieve greater vitality, competitiveness and resilience when coping with less and more expensive resources and space? How can smaller and poorer cities incorporate aspects of the smart city concept that is often entangled with ideas of ‘global’ or ‘world-class cities’? How can smart cities outbalance citizens’ needs with demands from industry and investors to avoid top-down practices? What role can information and communication technology play in sustainable urban development, and how can actors from civic society be included in rethinking the city?

The workshops will focus on Resources and Infrastructure (water, energy and mobility), Mobility and Social Innovation (i.e., new modes of governance, critical evaluation of the top-down approaches, urban space design and behavioural change) aspects of a ‘smart’ city.

In a working, knowledge transfer-oriented environment that bridges science, policy and practice, the participants will present their work, initiatives and ideas, exchange their views and approaches, and jointly seek for commonalities and innovative solutions.

The 2016 workshops will take place in:

Location

Tentative Dates

Kolkata (ORF Chapter Kolkata)

09.08

Cochin

11.08

Pune (IISER)

19.08

Bangalore (Goethe-Institut / MMB)

16.09

Purpose:

  • To add to the visibility of the German scientific landscape and to deepen the collaboration between German and Indian scientific communities
  • To initiate a dialogue between Indian and German scholars and practitioners on Smart Cities
  • To publish and circulate a comprehensive policy paper consisting of recommendations for stakeholders and decision makers
  • To publish a report comprising the findings from all workshops

Goal:

  • To establish a long-term platform for exchange between scholars and practitioners, both in India and Germany, working on Smart Cities
  • To contribute to and influence the ongoing debate on smart cities in India
  • To contribute to the larger debate on smart cities in the world

Structure/Thematic Panels:

Smart Transportation

With growing population and the phenomenal rise of private motor vehicle in cities, the ability to move easily has become a major problem. The focus in this session would be on identifying smart mobility options, and the following questions would be taken up for discussion: (i) How can private automobile dependency be reduced and public transportation systems strengthened? (ii) What role can disruptive technologies play in improving mobility? (iii) How can the various public transportation modes be integrated for hassle-free travel? (iv) In which way can vehicular emissions be brought down? What should be the main features of a transportation plan for cities?

Inclusive Cities

The benefits of development and prosperity are not reaching deprived sections of the society in cities due to which there is a growing gap between the rich and the poor. Safety and security of vulnerable communities, including women, is also a major concern. In this session, the following questions would be discussed: (i) How can cities be made inclusive so that people can reap the benefits of urbanisation? (ii) Which strategies can help in improving the quality of life of slum dwellers, including their access to affordable housing and basic services? (iii) How can we create more livelihood opportunities for the poor and guarantee them equal rights? (iv) How can we ensure public safety and security in cities?

Urban Infrastructure Planning and Design

Cities in developing countries exhibit numerous physical infrastructure deficiencies. This session will examine the issues related to urban infrastructure planning and discuss the following questions: (i) How can we plan and design sustainable infrastructure to meet the current and future demand? (ii) How can we ensure a safe and reliable supply of drinking water to all sections of the society? (iii) How can we improve the sanitary conditions in cities? (iv) How can we meet the growing energy demand and reduce carbon emissions?

Social Infrastructure

People’s access to various kinds of social infrastructure is severally constrained. Urbanisation creates a tremendous pressure due to which the available infrastructure and institutions are failing to meet the rising demand. In this session, the following questions would be taken up for discussion: (i) How can we improve people’s access to health and education services? (ii) How can we create sufficient public spaces for people’s leisure and recreation? (iii) How can the private sector be successfully involved in contributing to social infrastructure development?

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