Technology for urban sustainability

Innovative urban solutions supported by advanced technology are strengthening cities to adapt to negative changes in societal, economic and climate spheres

Increased human activity in cities is adding enormous pressure on urban environment. Many environmental and urban experts have suggested that the battle for sustainability will be won or lost in the world’s cities.

The Global Commission report found that “over the next 15 years, about US $90 trillion will be invested in infrastructure in the world’s cities, agriculture and energy systems. The world has an unprecedented opportunity to drive investment in low-carbon growth, bringing multiple benefits including jobs, health, business productivity and quality of life.”
When most of the countries are focusing on improving infrastructure and services in cities, it is required that urban planners and decision makers focus on sustainable development that can be achieved by investing in ‘green technology’. Technology has always been there in the infrastructure development, particularly in the development of cities and urban areas. Many developed countries have begun using technology in order to improve the efficiency of urban systems and also to reduce pollution, and conserve water and energy.

The Global Commission report found that “over the next 15 years, about US $90 trillion will be invested in infrastructure in the world’s cities, agriculture and energy systems. The world has an unprecedented opportunity to drive investment in low-carbon growth, bringing multiple benefits including jobs, health, business productivity and quality of life

If we look at the financial support required for developing sustainable infrastructure, it could be significantly higher but governments need to find out ways to generate revenue to support sustainable development in cities. For example, construction cost of a green building is almost double in comparison to normal ones but the cost can be recovered in the long term by cutting down recurring expenses on energy usage. There must be financial support to afford and support the cases of economic insufficiency in the implementation of new technologies. Currently there are plenty of technological resources to be explored.

Automation systems in buildings (ASB) can help optimize air conditioning and central heating systems, alarms and security systems, artificial lighting systems, energy saving, control of equipment and electromechanical, electrical and electronic installations by means of “intelligent” control devices. This not only helps in reducing the environmental impact caused by the building but also increases comfort inside it.

Promotion of such technology largely depends on the local and state governments. Like, E-rickshaws are now available in every city but there are only a few cities where they are operating with ease. It is the responsibility of the local governments to promote such initiatives by building essential infrastructure to support such projects. Electronic vehicles that work with electricity by means of rechargeable batteries; these batteries must be charged using clean or renewable energy.

An electric vehicle is 400% to 600% more effective than an internal combustion one; the use of these vehicles would ensure the reduction of greenhouse gases in the transport sector of the cities. None of the cities in India have facility of charging stations for E-rickshaws. The government cannot ban fuel-run vehicles if it does not provide an alternative to drivers running conventional rickshaws and citizens depending on them for daily commuting.

Similarly, advanced system of driving assistance would allow the reduction of commuting time, reduction of fuel consumption, reduction of environmental pollution, control of traffic and traffic jams at low costs of implementation and maintenance of the transport infrastructure. There are many other sectors in which technological innovations can do wonders and improve the livability of our cities.

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