According to United Nations estimates (Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2016), India is the second-most populous country in the world with approximately 1.32 billion citizens. The population is set to touch 1.58 billion over the next 20 years. The report also reveals, currently 32% of the total Indian population lives in cities which generate 63% of the nation’s economic activity. Both figures are set to increase as India is projected to accommodate close to 41% of its entire population in cities by 2035. While the country has potential for growth, it needs a plan to accommodate the urbanization anticipated.

Urbanization on such an enormous scale requires earnest participation of all stakeholders–the government, the community and citizens.

The question being asked is how will India accommodate and provide a sustainable lifestyle to an urban population of close to 650 million over the next 20 years?

How will India be able to accommodate and provide a sustainable lifestyle to an urban population of close to 650 million over the next 20 years? As per the plan from the urban development ministry, about 100 cities will be developed in a phased manner over the next 5 years with an investment of around $15 bn. There are four essential infrastructure pillars that form an integral part of the smart city – Economic, Institutional, Social and Physical.

The solution lies in preparing existing cities, and developing new ones, to accommodate the influx and manage the subsequent growth. The Ministry of Urban Development, under the larger agenda of “Digital India”, has drawn up the map for developing 100 “Smart Cities” in India under the “Smart Cities Mission”. The two larger objectives of developing a smart city are:

#1 To accommodate increasing urbanization
#2 To provide better quality of life to citizens

As per the plan from the urban development ministry, about 100 cities will be developed in a phased manner over the next 5 years with an investment of around US $15 billion. A list of the first 20 smart cities has been put forth by the ministry, and they will receive funds to kick-start the Smart Cities mission campaign.

There are four essential infrastructure pillars that form an integral part of the smart city – Economic, Institutional, Social and Physical.

An important characteristic feature of a smart city is its robust economic infrastructure, which should be enterprising and entrepreneurial in nature, and sustain economic growth. That will lead to prosperity of the citizens and their cities. The economic infrastructure will have combined support, of the finance sector and governance, to ensure sustenance. A solid economic infrastructure provides for sustained employment opportunities for the citizens, which in turn lead to better living standards.

Certain institutions such as Healthcare, Financial, Education, Law and Emergency Services are required for maintenance of health, economy, cultural and social standards of society. A smart city features a well-connected and intelligent institutional infrastructure, which can integrate all citizen-centered activities on a single e-governance platform, eventually fulfilling the service needs of the citizens efficiently. Urban lifestyle is basically running against time while carrying out various day-to-day functions. A well-established institutional infrastructure helps citizens complete their daily tasks with minimal expenditure of time and effort.

Social infrastructure is a set of factors that render available human resources suitable for productive work. Smart cities enable a strong and sustainable social infrastructure by creating an environment to enhance skills and productivity. Sound investments in education and healthcare systems can ensure better human capabilities and add economic value to the system. No society can do without basic physical infrastructure. A strong and sustainable one includes good housing facilities, civic and utilities systems, transportation and waste management systems.

While the four major pillars are essential, it goes without saying that nature and environment play a vital role in the life of every being. Adopting the clean technologies concept ensures optimal use of resources, promotes renewable energy solutions and calls for lower use of natural resources. That helps promote the cause. The smartness of a city is defined by its ability to manage and use resources such as water, electricity, energy, fuel and transportation, and practice clean technologies.

The pillars form the essential fabric of smart cities and ensure smarter solutions for a better tomorrow – by creating a platform for better living standards. However, this will require a concerted effort to ensure uninterrupted quality of living, safety and security. All four infrastructures need to be of global standards and they need to be intact and fully functional, safe from threats of natural disasters as well as infiltrators like terrorist outfits. This warrants judicious implementation of standards and safety measures at every step of developing smart cities.

Critical principles of a smart city include:
• Responsible energy production, and sensible deployment and utilization
• Green buildings that optimize energy use and water consumption, and mitigate factors that affect human health, such as indoor-air quality
• Safe transportation, which can be achieved through new technologies such as electric vehicles, safe charging stations and manufacturing-risk mitigation
• Safe environments for healthcare and other public facilities, with efficient technologies, clean air and robust data security

The UL Advantage

UL seeks to advance safety in tandem with innovation in areas critical to life in a modern city – energy, buildings, transportation, and healthcare and public facilities. We partner with national standards bodies of most developed and developing countries and our experts are members of leading standards development bodies.

UL has pioneered an approach to address the risk that is inherent in the development of smart cities, and make new technologies functional, reliable, and safe. Our variety of services are capable of serving smart cities in three broad areas—Connectedness, Safety, and The Concept of Green Cities.

Areas of Focus

Services

CONNECTEDNESS

Interoperability

Environmental Testing (for humidity, dust, temperature, shock, vibration handling), Electromagnetic Interference & Compatibility (EMI-EMC) Tests, Certification (for full range of wireless technologies—M2M regulations, wireless charging, cellular regulatory conformance, and Bluetooth compliance)

Transaction Security

Testing & Certification, Test Tools, Advisory, Training, and Security Evaluation

Smart Grids

Providing Compliance, Market, and Regulatory Insights and Certification of Energy Meters (to Indian and international safety and performance standards)

SAFETY

Learning, Safety Management, Occupational Health, Clinic, and Practice

Safe Products

Building Materials, Appliances, Lighting, HVAC, Energy & Power Systems, Medical Devices, Consumer Electronics, Performance Materials, and Wire & Cable

Safe Buildings

Fire Prevention, Life Safety, Fire Protection, Indoor Air Quality, and Energy Efficiency Audit

GREEN CITIES

Renewable Energy

Certification of Components and Systems, Bankability and Insurability Services, Site Assessment & Plant Inspection, R&D Support, and Advisory Services

Green Products

Testing of Products to Energy Efficiency Standards and Programs (Star Labelling under EESL, BEE), Building Assessment for Energy Efficiency under the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC), Environmental Claims Validation, GREENGUARD and ECOLOGO Certifications, Advisory Services and Verification of Products (for use in Green Buildings and Sustainable Programs)

Electric Vehicles

Level 1, 2 & 3 Charging Systems, Supply Equipment, Functional Safety at Component and ECU levels