An issue that critics of Indian Smart City initiatives highlight is the lack of standardisation, which other countries are developing.
Although there cannot be a single global template that could be used to design Smart City, it is important to have a certain kind of standardisation.
However, more than 80 countries are collaborating to create standardisation of Smart Cities. India is neither a part nor has it worked out a common set of Indian parameters, beyond just identifying some areas, the critics point out.
Many countries are building Smart Cities that are considered ‘’intelligent cities’’ where the focus is on delivery of government services and to achieve sustainability goals.
There are diversities in each cities and countries, but there are many similarities in issues and challenges. Hence tackling these collectively is probably not a bad idea.
For achieving the common goals, it is better to have global collaboration and standardised approaches towards subjects such as telecom, security and safety issues.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has formed a focus group dedicated to creating standards for Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Cities. Last year, it even released a definition of smart and sustainable cities after studying “116 existing definitions of smart sustainable cities.”
It has defined a smart sustainable city as an innovative city that uses information and communication technologies (ICTs) and other means to improve the quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social and environmental aspects.
Having defined smart cities, ITU has gone ahead to devise a set of key performance indicators based on six broad dimensions (1) Information and Communication Technology; (2) Environmental sustainability; (3) Productivity; (4) Quality of life; (5) Equity and social inclusion; (6) Physical infrastructure.
These key performance indictors (KPIs) are not restricted to just theoretical frameworks. Dubai has announced that it would assess the efficiency and sustainability of its operations using these KPIs under its Smart Dubai initiative.
Singapore also joined Dubai as the second city to try out the ITU KPIs for smart sustainable cities. Subsequent to these pilots, ITU aims to develop a Global Smart Sustainable Cities Index.
The International Standard Organisation (ISO) says “cities need indicators to measure their performance” for improving the quality of life and sustainability globally” and it has devised a set of standardised indicators.
ISO 37120, as this set of indicators is called, was released in May 2014 and it provides a uniform approach to what is measured, and how that measurement is to be undertaken. By using it, cities can benchmark themselves globally overall or on specific parameters.
Critics say that in the entire Indian Smart City discourse, including the official documents released by the official Smart City Mission, there is not a single reference to ISO 37120 city indicators.