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Young Female Choosing Vegetables At Market Place

While many smart city initiatives focus on modernizing infrastructure, citizens still must eat food largely produced in archaic and unsustainable ways.

An article in the Business Standard discussed the smart city food paradox with Saahil Parekh, co-founder of Khetify, an organization promoting urban farming in India.

“The idea of smart cities is incomplete without smart food,” he says. “Agriculture should become a permanent part of the urban system.”

Parekh sees a sad irony in how citizens of modern megacities becoming more connected via technology, but increasingly disconnected with farming and what they eat.

“We no longer care about where our fruits and vegetables are coming from, understanding how to identify the good ones from the bad, and their nutrition value,” he says. “Our only criterion is how cheap, and the presence of pesticides or other harmful chemicals doesn’t even play on our minds.”

Urban farming needs to support to scale

While Parekh says that it is a positive sign that some individual citizens are farming their own produce on rooftops, government support is required if urban agriculture can successfully scale up.

“What is really required is a push from urban municipalities to introduce urban farming as a social policy and to integrate urban agriculture as an integral part of urban planning and design,” he said.

Smart cities look to boost energy efficiency and sustainability by enabling local production says Parekh.

“The idea behind decentralized energy production, and the consequent importance of roof-top solar projects, is important to a smart city because it enables localized production of the electricity required to power its economy,” he said. “Energy is produced where it is consumed, and that makes it inherently sustainable.

“Let’s put the sustainability spotlight on food production. Just like energy, food should be grown where it is consumed.”

He added that the massive inefficiencies and costs related to long-distance food delivery cast a large cloud of the sustainable smart cities of the future.

One recent study found that the amount of fossil fuel energy expended in the transportation of one cauliflower from the farm to a city dinner table is 36 times greater than the energy that vegetable provided to the human body.

The post Can future smart cities feed their citizens with smart food? appeared first on ReadWrite.


In January this year, India’s central government announced the first list of 20 cities that have been identified for development as smart cities, part of government plans to develop 100 Smart Cities by the end of 2022.

The plans came about in part, via the Smart Cities Challenge funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The Government of India launched this challenge as a selection process to distribute central government funding to 100 cities over three years.

However it would be a misnomer to assume that smart city development in India is only in it’s elementary stages. Since 2014 Cisco have been involved in consulting with local government and development authorities to bring connected capabilities to cities like Hamburg, Barcelona and Adelaide.

Last week Cisco announced the city of Jaipur, Rajasthan – a city of 3.5 million residents and over 40 million tourists visiting annually – will be the first Smart+Connected Community “Lighthouse City” in South Asia.

Under the consulting guidance of Cisco, the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) is focused on developing smart city infrastructure in Jaipur to transform itself into a digital city of the future.

We spoke to Mr. Shikhar Agrawal, Commissioner, Jaipur Development Authority, Government of Rajasthan and Shri Arijit Banerjee, Principal Officer on Special Duty to Chief Minister, Government of Rajasthan.

The project has been broken down into two phases so far, as Mr Agrawal explained:

” The first phase was about creating digital infrastructure to offer citizens amenities including interactive, intelligent kiosks and wireless broadband. The kiosks enable people to book transport, find shopping locations, find their way around, and we also have set up spaces for free mobile phone recharging. These are all especially useful in the tourist areas. We’re the first city in the country to have 30 public wifi portals. We make these viable by being free up to a certain point and once a person reaches the paid point, the money earned goes back into funding the free service

We’ve also made it possible that public services like hospitals and education providers now have extensive Wi-Fi.”

intelligent kiosk

The benefits of a connected city also extend to broader issues of public safety, as Mr. Agrawal discussed:

“Safety and security are a big part of our work including  video surveillance for public safety and security at key locations such as train stations. This includes safety mechanisms  such as an alarm if there was an unattended bag on a platform or a crime was in occurrence.

We’ve also set up a City Infrastructure Management Centre (CIMC) and a Response Control Room to manage the city with greater efficiency… nearly all the solutions are integrated into a digital platform. The digital platform  can aggregate data from various sensors and solutions and conduct data analytics.”

We were curious to know if they had attained direction or best practice strategies from other connected cities. Mr. Banerjee countered that idea:

“We didn’t have any blueprint, we are learning as we go. I don’t think any city has a perfect end-to-end solution. Jaipur probably stands out as the city with the most number of initiatives cutting across areas of urban management. Jaipur is the blueprint that will guide other parts of India.”


The second phase of the project will move into broader areas of the city, according to Mr. Banerjee:

“We have identified 5,000 light poles that we want to make ‘smart’ so they are programmable and remotely controllable. They will have an integrated video camera and be connected to the control and command center. We’re also working on the area of waste management so that we can automatically know when public bins need to be emptied via a sensor between the bins and the garbage trucks. We also want to be able to water leakages and better manage water maintenance.”

Cisco also announced  – in collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies Inc., General Electric and 3M India Ltd. – the launch of an “Innovation Centre” in Jaipur to help accelerate co-innovation of  IoT-based solutions.

This center will team up with startups, developers, government agencies, and academic communities who share the same goal of bringing innovative ideas to life.

“A smart city of Jaipur enables good governance, a better quality of life and increased employment opportunities for citizens,” said Mr. Agrawal.

The post Is Jaipur India’s smartest city? appeared first on ReadWrite.


Communications and networking might be overlooked by smart cities, missing out on the potential capabilities of partnering with telecoms to build “heterogeneous networks” that deliver service to multiple platforms.

The Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) claims — in its latest report titled “The Central Role of Telecoms in the Smart City” — that emerging technologies like the Internet of Things and big data require a new relationship between authorities, service providers, and the telecoms, which GSA is starting to see on some smart city projects.

See Also: Chinese think tank wants to improve cities using U.S. services

“It is clear that many cities — not just the largest megacities — are keen to use ICT to achieve specific aims within their smart city agendas, but that they don’t always know how best to make use of the multiple networking technologies and services that can help,” said director at Innovation Observatory, Danny Dicks, who wrote the report. “There is a role for service providers and vendors here, but all parties must recognise the impact of city procurement processes, and of the financial models that govern capital infrastructure and operations.”

The report says that smart cities look for optimal ways of funding the deployment of new technology, suggesting in a infographic (see below) public-private partnerships (PPP) or central government funding.


Cities don’t need to do all the heavy lifting themselves

As the above infographic shows, sometimes partnering with a company like IBM or Google, instead of city officers handling all the workload themselves, might cost much less and bring more inventive solutions.

“NFV, SDN and network slicing developments for 4G, LTE Advanced, 4.5G and 5G systems mean network operators are better able than before to tailor services to the multiple specific requirements of different smart city applications, including high-availability connections for critical applications,” said VP of research at GSA, Alan Hadden. “But it is likely, given that cities often consider building their own infrastructure, that vendors and operators will need to be flexible in the business models they suggest.”

An Alphabet subsidiary, Sidewalk Labs, has apparently been in talks with city leaders in the United States about rejuvenation projects. The company would supposedly handle most of the expenses, in return for lower regulations and more access to public infrastructure.

That could be a big change in the dynamic for technology and city leaders, where the company takes over most of the project, including expenses and shortfalls. The problem for city leaders is if the project fails, they will be the first to hear about it and might even lose their job.

The post Are telecoms being overlooked in smart city deployments? appeared first on ReadWrite.