A majority of contenders vying for the smart city tag still have a lot of catching up to do in terms of using the digital platform as an interface between citizens and the administration, a study shows.
Of the 98 potential smart cities studied, 17 have no official websites while three do not have theirs in working condition. More than half the cities have not put up any updates so far about ongoing smart-city initiatives while 64% have not invited suggestions from the public in this regard. About 93% of the cities are yet to link their websites with those of their state governments’.
Smart City Watch, the study conducted by the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University, Ahmedabad, to analyse how these 98 cities are using online platforms to share information about their preparedness and engaging the public, found most of them faring poorly.
“This is just the beginning. Greater preparedness to undertake smart city initiatives will come as we go along,” an official in the urban development ministry said.
On the three parameters studied – municipalities’ own official websites, MyGov.in and Facebook pages – 24 cities including Varanasi, Aligarh, Allahabad, Ghaziabad, Moradabad, Bihar Sharif, Bhagalpur, Ranchi and Visakhapatnam were among the lowest scorers with hardly any digital initiative taken. Mangaluru, Tiruchirapalli, Indore, Raipur, Jaipur and Surat were among the top scorers.
At a time when Facebook has emerged as a vital tool for sharing information, 70% of the municipalities in these cities do not have a smart city page on the social network.
“One of the basic steps for any city to be smart is to have an online platform for reaching out to a wider audience on what initiatives are being taken,” said Saswat Bandyopadhyay, professor of planning at CEPT University, mentoring the study.
“Through this survey, we wanted to find out how cities fare on these indicators. Cities were mapped on the theme of public data openness with simple aspects such as whether the probable smart city has a web page or whether it has initiated citizens’ engagement through MyGov.”
Smart City Watch is a voluntary initiative by students and alumni of CEPT University’s urban planning department.