This report argues that the larger notions of sustainability and good governance encompass the overarching goals of smart cities across the globe. Technology, especially Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is an important enabler in attaining sustainability and good governance. However, technology needs to be supported by an enabling policy environment. This would need a carefully designed framework, which would provide guidance for the realisation of India’s urban agenda. As an important step in India’s urban sector programme trajectory, the Smart Cities Mission needs to be equipped to provide solutions to India’s urban challenges. The report places the Smart Cities Mission as an opportunity to:
The interventions for achieving the opportunities mentioned above need to be systemic; they cannot be ‘stand-alone’ in nature. The point of departure (from existing urban development programmes) that would make a difference in an increasingly resource constrained world is how judiciously one plans a city. This has to be supported by the enhanced power of technology, an aware and engaged citizenry and a competent and capacitated set of people working within an accountable framework. This process would determine the ‘smartness’ of a city and herein emerges the need for a Smart City Reference Framework.
The Smart City Reference Framework, which is the culmination of this report, offers directions to both practitioners and theorists. The Framework is driven by the following four guiding principles: a) Well-being b) Equity c) Efficiency d) Foresight.
These guiding principles have been derived from the United Nations’ (UN’s) draft Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Reference Framework includes major action stages in the Smart Cities Mission and identifies a set of reference guides to support the agencies responsible for carrying out the action stages. The processes of city selection and indicator designing for base lining have been explained within the Framework. The Framework aims to crystallise future pathways for smart cities development in India, by laying emphasis on the process of city development that leads to sustainable outcomes.