The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has come out with the draft National Standards for Smart Cities that are expected to raise the bar for Indian cities to be called ‘Smart’. The requirements will be higher than the criteria incorporated under the government’s Smart City Mission.
Some of the indicators that the draft standards, released by BIS on September 30, seek to incorporate to assess services and quality of life are air pollution, carbon emission, renewable energy consumption, per capita GDP, unemployment rate and girl child enrolment in schools.
These measurable indicators are not part of the current assessment process. Under the Smart City Mission, the government assesses the cities on past three years’ performance in providing civic services, efficiency of governance and their proposals to implement future projects, focusing mostly on information and technology.
“The process of BIS standard formulation started prior to the establishment of the Smart City Mission so their standards may not reflect the objectives of the mission. We wanted to understand what the smart cities in Indian context are and then define the indicators for assessing their performance,” said a senior official in the ministry of urban development.
The BIS says its standards are derived from ISO on ‘Sustainable Development of Communities: Indicators for city services and quality of life’ and have been modulated by the standards notified by various Indian agencies.
The standards, which claim to have “sustainability as a general principal”, assess a city on 93 indicators across 17 sectors. For each indicator, BIS has specified data on the basis of which performance will be measured. The bureau has put the draft standards for public comments for a month before finalising them. Once the indicators are finalised, the benchmarks will be decided. By default, the BIS standards are only voluntary.
“Now these qualitative indicators are defined, they should definitely be incorporated in assessing the smart cities. The question will be how to calculate data on baseline of these indicators for our cities. A lot of work has already been done by National Mission on Sustainable Habitat. The government should use that to evolve holistic indicators to assess smart cities,” said Manu Bhatnagar of Natural Heritage Division, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage.