Networked information could be used as an enabler to better plan and manage urbanisation and thereby bring about improvement in delivery of urban services. That is how the current challenges in the area of delivery of services such as building approvals, issue of birth/death certificates, trade licenses, managing hospitals, managing utilities, managing complaints and grievances and managing disasters can be better addressed and handled.
It is well known that the information communication technology has substantially changed the way services are organised and delivered in cities all over the world. Service delivery in our cities can be made better by effective use of this methodology. Beginnings have been made in various cities but the question is how fast and how effectively this can bring about a major change in the way our cities function and deliver citizen services. Leveraging technology could result in connected citizens for improved service delivery, connected workers enabled by a modernised work place, connected information for improved insight and accountability and connected cities for smarter living environments. Cities can leverage ICT to manage various issues of immediate concern such as managing urban congestion, maximising energy efficiency, enhancing public security, allocating resources based on real time evidence and educating the citizens through remote learning.
e-Government is a concept which continues to evolve and focus on the requirements of the user. During the 1990s governments looked to utilise ICT primarily to improve the efficiency of the public sector and its effectiveness. Emphasis was on creating the necessary ICT infrastructure. In this process reliable and affordable internet connectivity for citizens was a priority. e-Government at this stage essentially consisted of online provision of information and services, providing for transacting business with government electronically. Subsequently during the late 2000s a second generation of ICT tools and applications emerged associated with the collaborative web basically represented by the social networking sites. While the characteristics of the first generation e-government such as greater public sector efficiency and effectiveness continue to be present, now governments look to ICT to enhance user and client satisfaction, service quality and transparency. So the shift is from a government centric to a citizen centric approach. The focus is now on the user as the unit of analysis than the ICT itself. The expectation is that optimising e-government development for users will lead to better and more responsive services to citizens.
The two issues which have become relevant in this process are those of integrating ICT systems across organisations and transforming citizen- government relationships. While the modernisation efforts of ICT infrastructure continue, efforts are on to leverage the infrastructure so as to better share information internally and externally and to deliver integrated services. The trend is towards e- government as a whole concept focussing on the provision of services at the front end, supported by integration, consolidation and innovation in back end processes and systems to achieve integrated client focused service delivery and greater efficiencies. The second focus is on e-government just not representing provision of information or services but as a way of transforming how citizens interact with government and how government interacts with itself. Opportunities are there now to open government decision making to the community thereby allowing citizens to engage more directly and collaboratively with public servants.
Smart Cities and ICT
When we design our smart city plans what needs to get focus would be issues like connected and sustainable mobility, connected and sustainable buildings, connected and sustainable energy, connected and sustainable security, connected and sustainable work places and for all this, connectivity will have to emerge as the fourth utility. The city planners will have to make more provision for broadband infrastructure as is done in the case of areas like water, road and electricity. Networked information could be used as an enabler to better manage and plan urbanisation and thereby bring about improvement in delivery of urban services. That is how the current challenges in the area of delivery of services such as building approvals, issue of birth/death certificates, trade licenses, managing hospitals, providing better health care, managing schools, managing utilities, mapping underground utilities, managing assets, managing complaints and grievances and managing disasters can be better addressed and handled. ICT becomes the means to make use of city resources in the most optimal manner and improve the interface between citizens and the government. But the deployment of ICT would go along with urban design, planning, development, governance and sustainability. There are lessons available from the various global cities which use ICT for infrastructure creation and maintenance, planning and development, important decision making on online feedback from citizens, management of city assets including transport systems, natural resources and environment, providing various services to the citizens and in other innovative applications for specific and new services for the city residents. So a smart city will have the first characteristic of provision of ICT enabled services to the citizens. Intelligent and multi modal seamless city transportation system which will be facilitated by use of ICT will be the next feature. Management of city assets by using ICT will be another key attribute of a smart city. Use of GIS will be a routine characteristic of such cities. Creating an information exchange platform for collaboration between citizens, businesses, knowledge institutions and government departments will be another characteristic of a smart city. Globally sensors are also used for effective city waste management. ICT based control of environment would be another feature of such a city. Intelligent use of ICT can facilitate smart mobility in the city.
New York is considered one of the world’s leading digital metropolises. The city engages more than 25 million people a year through more than 200 digital channels. Mayor Bloomberg led the initiative to introduce NYC Digital, a new entity for city wide digital strategy that engages, serves and connects the public, making government more efficient and citizen centric. New York City’s digital initiatives are supposed to be redefining the nature of government by enabling a high level of transparency, communication and collaborative community development. It is relevant to note that of the four million individuals reached every month by New York City’s digital government, 1.2 million that is 30 percent engage with the city through social media such as Facebook, Twitter or digital newsletters. This shows the extent to which technology can be leveraged for a better city governance system.
Creating an information exchange platform for collaboration between citizens, businesses, knowledge institutions and government departments will be another characteristic of a smart city. Globally sensors are also used for effective city waste management. ICT based control of environment would be another feature of such a city