Smart cities concept will keep evolving as over 300 million Indians are expected to move to urban areas over the next 20 years. So the abilities of cities to handle the projected population growth in urban areas in terms of alleviating the concerns thrown up by the speed of urbanisation will ultimately be the test for effective implementation of Smart Cities mission.

The task is all the more difficult as each city has its own set of problems so will need a different approach for its transformation to ‘Smartness’. For that the municipal authorities and the Urban Local Bodies need to understand their cities in great depth and require leadership qualities, vision and capacity assistance to act decisively. For, it is at this level that problems could arise in implementation because of lack of finance, technical prowess and talented manpower.

“There is a lot to be done at the state and local government level which is outside the ambit of the central budget. Provision of adequate public transport coverage, sanitation, quick building plan approval, etc. are all subjects which need to be dealt at the local government level,” says Prof. Dr.P.S.N.Rao, Professor and Head, Department of Housing, SPA New Delhi.

“They are the 'last mile connectivity' issues in the urban sector which need to be tackled, without this, no amount of central government initiatives can bring about any meaningful change in our urban scenario,” Rao says.

Also, as there are several core elements that combine to make up the infrastructure of the Smart City mission, efficient collaboration among its different stakeholders (Public Private Partnership) could avoid time lags. The government should also come up with a firm legal framework so that multiple stakeholders are bound to work in a timely manner. Another challenge is the communication flow between the city custodians and policy drafters.

Brinda Somaya, Principal Architect, Somaya & Kalappa Consultants says: “The problems of urban development are enormous in scale so there is no doubt that there has to be acute decentralisation in all verticals and yet something has to hold us all together.

The role of young people is most important and I have seen the brilliance in the Architecture and Planning schools I visit. They are all hungry to help in the development of the country and so frustrated with the red tape involved making any ideas of these non-implementable.”