‘Smart Urbanization’ event opens with sessions across 5 urban themes

New Delhi: Day 2 of the “Smart Cities, Smart Urbanization” event saw engaging sessions that were held concurrently on the five thematic areas of urban sector, vis. Reimagining Public Spaces, Digital Governance, ClimateSmart Cities, Innovation and Smart Finance. The event is being organized in Surat, Gujarat by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) as part of the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ (AKAM) to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Independence, and had a grand opening on 18.4.2022.

In addition to the five thematic pavilions, a central ‘chowk’ area was built to have dedicated sessions and panel discussions on key urban issues that are being addressed by the Smart Cities Mission. Further, a pavilion was setup by the Government of Gujarat, displaying models of some of the key projects being undertaken by them, and some of the key textile products of Surat.

Several key urban stakeholders from Central and State Governments attended the sessions and engaged in various activities that were showcased in the pavilions. These included inter alia, Officers of the Central Government, Principal Secretaries of States/UTs, Municipal Commissioners of Cities, MDs/CEOs of 100 Smart Cities, State Level Nodal Agencies/ Mission Directorates, along with their officials and team members, professionals, industry representatives, global partners and experts, media, and members of academia.

The ‘Innovation Bazaar’ pavilion had session discussions on the City Innovation eXchange & SmartProcure Guidelines of MoHUA, that were adopted by the city leaders. The visitors attending the session expressed keen interest on impactful solutions for cities in Augmented Reality for planned maintenance, AI for Property Tax Enhancement, Clean Air, Water Conservation & Waste Management.

The pavilion engaged the visitors with an innovation game called “Polaris” that explained the concepts of SmartProcure Guidelines which ease the procurement process for cities to pilot and procure solutions from startups. The participating city officials also explored ways to find synergies with the Rs. One Thousand crore Seed Fund Scheme of Startup India, under Department for Promotion of Industries and Internal Trade (DPIIT), to improve their innovation ecosystem.

Further, the visitors to the Innovation Bazaar pavilion experienced the value of the living-lab innovation model, in which real-time air quality & purification, water & energy footprints, and carbon footprints of the conference were showcased through mobile App developed for that conference by the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC).

‘Finance ka Adda’ pavilion focussed on the Smart Finance theme, wherein key issues regarding urban finance were deliberated upon, helping cities identify untapped sources of revenue. 29 Global & National experts spoke in 8 sessions, speaking on diverse urban finance issues including inter alia issuance of municipal bonds by cities, Public Private Partnership projects, land monetization, and Value Capture Finance.

The pavilion also displayed an exhibition of more than 20 successful and innovative PPP projects of Smart Cities Mission. Moreover, the pavilion also had presence of various partner organisations vis. MUNIFY (a dashboard to overview ULBs budgets and finance), Invest India Grid section, National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), and Output and Outcome Monitoring Framework (OOMF) Clinic.

At the Climate Café- a pavilion for Climate related issues and initiatives of the Smart Cities Mission, visitors expressed their desires for a climate resilient and sustainable future on the ‘Tree of Life’ display that was kept at the pavilion. During his visit to the climate pavilion yesterday, Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs placed a message on the ‘Tree of Life’, reiterating India’s climate commitments.

The pavilion attracted several participants who took part in interactive activities like virtual reality games, ‘data wall’, and a game based on climate disasters. Several city leaders participated in the vision board which used threads to mark out their climate ambitions for the future.

‘Digital Duniya’ was developed at the event as the Digital Governance pavilion, showcasing various data and technology initiatives being implemented in cities for improving their functions and enhancing the quality of lives of the citizens. ‘Sayabot’, a robot welcomed the various guests at the entrance and suggested Covid appropriate behaviour including hand sanitisation and wearing a mask.

A miniature Integrated Command & Control Centre was set up at the pavilion with live feed from Surat SMAC. The pavilion attracted several visitors who took part in interactive activities like ICCC Use Case & IUDX Touch Panel, a virtual tour to digital city through VR glasses, Karvi, a virtual assistant messenger, date game, a ‘data meet’, high value data set crowdsourcing, repository of digital initiatives set up through QR Codes, and a dedicated corner providing information on the National Urban Digital Mission.

The visitors to this pavilion witnessed informative and exciting sessions and panel discussions across areas such as AI transforming mobility through India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX), and Data Driven Decision making – a case study of Surat Smart City, Wastewater Intelligence Network. Success stories from cities on the use of data where shared by Smart Cities CEOs and Municipal Commissioners from other cities vis. Smt. Anindita Mitra, CEO Chandigarh Smart City Ltd. and Shri Sandeep Malvi, CEO Thane Smart City Ltd. along with a fireside chat with World Economic Forum on Smart Urbanization.

The Digital Governance pavilion focused on experiential learning by making visitors play an innovative data game that showcased the benefits of collaboration and data sharing. More importantly, the winners of the ‘Urban Geospatial Data Stories Challenge 2022’ and the Open Data Week that was held in the month of January were felicitated at the pavilion. The list of awardees is at Annexure 1.

Under the Reimagining Public Spaces theme, a guided tour of the ‘Amaro Padhos’, a smart neighbourhood of 30,000 sq ft constructed at the venue, was given to visitors from 100 Smart Cities and other dignitaries. Discussions were held in the pavilion on how to make cities better for young children and their caregivers.

A key session was organised in the Central Chowk on ‘Human-scaling the Public Realm’, where the speakers shared on ways to create capacity within their ULBs/development authorities to design and build cities that work for its people. The pavilion had an awards ceremony where winning cities in each of the Placemaking Marathon round 1 & 2, that were held in the month of September-October, 2021 and January-February 2022 under AKAM were also announced and certificates were given.