Smart Cities: Why There’s an Urgent Need

Nandan Kaluskar grew up in Mumbai. Current population: 20 million.

“My definition of smart city in those days was a city that had smart people living in it,” Kaluska—VP and head of connected enterprise at Pactera—joked to a packed out room at LiveWorx this week.

But if anyone knows about the challenges and needs of fast growing mega cities it’s Kaluskar, who later moved to Deli, then the United States, and after Europe.

“Why do I want to live in a smart city?” Kaluskar began. “Because I need access to clean water and clean air, and access to the best services and safety.”

And as the Earth’s population grows, that’s going to become increasingly difficult.

Today there are 1.2 billion people on the planet under the age of 20 and over 50 percent of that population live in urban areas.

The needs of this young population will grow with time and will require a sustainable, economic, and environmentally sound approach to city development, Kaluskar said.

Perhaps an even more pressing concern is a rapidly aging population that will require especially designed infrastructure and facilities and increased access to medical care.

It’s estimated that by 2015 the 65+ population will be 2.5 times greater than that of the population ages 0-4.

On top of that, 15 percent of our population is special needs.

“All these people require smart cities,” Kaluskar said. “With better access to services, quality of life, and better care.”

How can we make a start on building smart cities?

First we have to decide whether to build new or retrofit existing cities, Kaluskar said. “The biggest challenges are planning and change management.”

“It starts with budgets, standards, and strategy,” Kaluskar said. “Smart-city technology should be fast, simple, affordable, and reliable. And most importantly – scalable.”

Smart cities are achievable, Kaluskar argued. But many players with broad knowledge and experience across a variety of specialities need to be involved. “This has to happen at the global level, not just local,” he said.

And security in the design of smart cities should be top of mind, Kaluskar said.

“It’s all about the right platform,” he continued. For Pactera that platform is ThingWorx. “It’s been an amazing partnership,” he said.

Pactera is working with ThingWorx to develop a smart parking solution, which Kaluskar demonstrated to the room.

“Most urban populations prefer public transportation,” he said. “It’s so hard to find parking.” Pactera’s smart parking solution helps city dwellers who want to drive to quickly and easily find available spaces to park.

“It took us only ten days to build this platform from idea to implementation with ThingWorx,” Kaluskar said.

When asked who the buyers of smart-city tech are, Kaluska said that could be the government, but more likely, private enterprise.



Filed under: Innovation, IoT Tagged: Internet of things, smart cities, smart connected products