The Remaining Gap Between 'Smart Cities' Ambition and Reality

A critique of a proposed "smart cities" development in Mumbai reveals how much work remains in providing the resources and maintaining the rigor to built sustainable, resilient, liveable cities.

1 minute read

July 18, 2017, 1:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


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Hugh Byrd revisits an ambitious proposal by the Indian Government to build 100 "smart cities," with a case study provided by a development in Mumbai known as Bhendi Bazaar. The 40- to 60-story towers that will replace three- to five-story townhomes have been described as "vertical with a vengeance" in its approach to density.

Byrd, however, has analyzed the project's plans using an Urban metabolism model, "which measures the impacts of the built environment, we have assessed its overall impact."

The result of that analysis was not favorable: "Our research shows that the proposal is neither smart nor sustainable." In more detail, Byrd reveals how the project falls short of the Indian government's own definitions of "smart"—as measured by 11 objectives.

The kicker of the post is not about the failure of engineering or development relative to the ambitions promoted to the public, but rather that the planning goal of making cities smart and liveable lacks the resources to become a reality.

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