India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) issued a draft National Digital Communications Policy, 2018, on 1 May, which is in the process of being officially notified. The policy’s missions are to “connect India”, “propel India” and “secure India’ to enable next-generation technologies and services by improving infrastructural support. In order to analyse whether such strategies will foster the development of smart cities in India, the strategies proposed under the policy are outlined below.
The policy recognizes digital communications as the core of smart cities and accordingly proposes to (i) develop a common service framework and standard for smart cities, and (ii) facilitate and support implementation of innovative solutions in smart cities. While the effectiveness of the framework can only be determined after it is in place and concrete means to implement innovative solutions are identified, it is commendable that the importance of digital communications in the development of smart cities has been recognized.
The policy aims to boost digital communication infrastructure and provide broadband for public rural and urban areas, and to create the infrastructure required via public-private partnerships, including with existing infrastructure providers, to increase efficiency. This will ideally include infrastructure for robust information technology (IT) connectivity and digitalization, which is one of the core infrastructural elements of a smart city, according to the smart cities mission statement and guidelines issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. This will accelerate the development of smart cities and increase their utility.
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Sharath Chandrasekhar is a partner and Soujanya Gollapudi is an associate at HSA Advocates. HSA is a full-service ﬁrm with ofﬁces in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata.
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