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Today smart pajamas are reciting stories on the basis of correlation of your biometrics and previous story preferences, to the time of day and the day of the week.

Meanwhile, by another decade after 2000+ years, 60% of the world (90% of landmass covered by cell phone signals) will consist of city dwellers (100 Crore phone connections in India alone).

In 20 years the internet, which now lives on a cloud and has 4000 exabyte of data (information equivalent to stack of books up to Pluto and back 80 times), is going to become the “internet of things” where everything physical will be or can be connected. For instance, counterchecking a sudden temperature change in a refinery/plant shop floor, the system, within seconds, may activate valves and alarms, including time bound authorizations from other associated systems, in order to activate a shutdown, while escalating alarms for human intervention.

In 1992 when IBM launched SMART – Self Monitoring, Analyses and Reporting Technology for preventive healthcare of computer systems, it was a matter of time that the same principals (monitor, analyze and report) would be applied from watches, phones to meters to power plants, vehicles, homes or anything requiring a ‘mind of it’s own’.


The strong convergence of all microprocessor based ‘intelligent systems’ such as ‘artificial intelligence, robotics, decision support or decision-making systems based on algorithms and other analytics tools are ensuring that everything from a phone to a turbine is being ‘born smart’.

One of the ways we analyze a system today - Traffic, Education, Governance, Medical, Distribution, Energy, manufacturing or any other system - is that ‘How smart it is’? Or how the system optimizes, manages efficiency, performs proactively (through monitoring control and reporting) and acts ‘on its own’.


Cities are happening! City is a combination of systems of city services such as Healthcare & Civic services, Energy & transport and Governance and design & layout of its’ structures.

Not only all components of the city are closely interdependent (a ‘intelligent building’ cannot work in isolation with un-intelligent city) but also components are mutually interdependent on the service hubs outside the city (power Grids /stations, airports, import of produce and goods and export of waste disposal).

Viability is another factor. 100 smart cities plan in India can be easily derailed by proposed funding formula (60 % of the cost to be raised by State and Municipal bodies).

Critical elements of Smart Energy are Smart Energy supply, Smart Networks, Smart Transportation and 'exercisable' options of smart consumption (choice with the consumer to use most economical means of energy /transport etc.)

As smart cities are a necessity rather than an innovation, their basic elements could be….

Large-scale incentivization of all components and measures towards a zero or even negative (generation through Renewable with net metering) energy building & facilities

  • Game changing improvements in public transportation

  • Eco waste management, mandatory generation of fuel and power from a percentage of waste

  • Aggressive urban development of B, C, D, E towns under Centre & State aided and monitored schemes in PPP mode to stem migration


While ‘internet of things’ will soon make it possible that our vehicles will talk to the train or plane we are going to catch and our hearts will talk directly to our Doctors’ phone, we are hurtling towards a future where our very communication with our planet has broken down. If urbanization is inevitable, then we will have to make cities smart and sustainable.


  • Kaushi Deka - special report in India Today

  • The Internet of things by Dr John Barrett










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