What makes a city smart? | Smart Cities Mission

The Smart Cities Mission of the Government of India is an urban renewal and development programme that aims to make cities citizen-friendly and sustainable. The vision of what makes a city smart varies, but it can be broadly summed up in terms of the following features.

 public_bike_sharing
Public Bike-Sharing in Bhopal. Image: smartcitybhopal.org

Climate-Smart and Environmentally sustainable

A smart city should offer environment-friendly basic civic amenities at an affordable price to its residents. Clean water, excellent waste treatment and recycling is necessary to reduce harmful anthropogenic effects on the environment. Renewable energy should replace traditional fossil fuels, with support of government to encourage green mobility. Well planned growth of cities and good drainage should be aimed at making the city resilient to vulnerabilities created by climate change such as erratic rainfall, flood, extreme temperatures, etc.

Smart, Democratic Governance

A smart city requires a governance that it efficient, effective and citizen-friendly. Democratic ethos should be enhanced with transparent and accountable utilisation of public funds. Local government (or municipalities) should be strong enough to mobilise sufficient financial resources for the management of the city, without relying heavily on the grants from the central government. New means such as the Municipal Bond Market are being promoted to further this goal of self-financing.

Smart Citizens

A city cannot be called smart if it is rife with crime, prejudice, and discrimination. Economically, sustenance of a smart city requires presence of highly skilled workforce employed in high productivity work. Smart citizens should be law-abiding, have progressive and adaptive social outlook, and appreciate harmonious coexistence of diverse people.

Better quality of life

A smart city should constantly improve the living standards of its residents. Increasing pollution and congestion can make a smart city reverse its evolution. People appreciate affordable housing, walkable localities, open spaces like parks, playgrounds. Recreational spaces would enhance social cohesion and help reduce depression in a increasingly individualising society. A community living, free from ills of prejudice, discrimination and crime, will enhance the feeling of security among the people. A long, healthy, cheerful and social life is what people expect from the post-modern concrete jungles.


A smart city plan should provide for core infrastructure, which while ensuring a decent life to its citizens, also focuses on creating a sustainable and inclusive environment. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India envisions smart city in terms of these four pillars that will make the urban development sustainable :

  • Physical Infrastructure
  • Social Infrastructure
  • Institutional Infrastructure
  • Strong Economic Drivers

See features of smart city on the official smart city website here: http://smartcities.gov.in/content/innerpage/smart-city-features.php

1 thought on “What makes a city smart? | Smart Cities Mission

  1. Pingback: Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) | broadgk

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