In the context of environmental enhancement technology can play a huge role in making cities more livable.
Sustainable development is a buzz word that’s being used in a variety of for a nowadays. It stems from the realization that cities are not being built the way they should be; that they are not aimed at meeting the demands of the current generation without compromising on the needs of future generations.
Economic and social development should be achieved with minimum impact on natural resources. In this century a major challenge faced by all of humanity is environmental sustainability. That is what Millennium Development goals stress on -- the need to ensure environmental sustainability by integrating sustainable development into a country’s national policy and to reduce the damage caused to the environment.
An environmentally friendly city is one that minimizes waste and economies to the maximum. For example, incentives for the use of public transport over private transport to conserve fuel. Another example would be to create awareness among citizens towards conservation of water and energy, promoting recycling of both solid waste and grey water minimizing waste diversion to landfill sites et al.
In the context of environment enhancement eco cities pose an excellent eco cities pose an excellent solution to help combat climate change and ensure a good quality of life on a sustainable basis. These cities are designed to create a small ecological footprint by minimizing pollution emissions effective waste management techniques and efficient use of land. A number of cities like Dongtan, Huangbaiyu, and Tianjin in China, and Waitakere in New Zealand are being planned on the liens of the eco city concept.
Today, technology affects every aspects of our life. It has changed the way we work at our workplace – having replaced the older hard bound files with documents residing in our laptops. In fact, technology is no longer restricted to the work place these days; it has permeated our personal lives as well.
For dwellers in a city use of technology has implications on citizen security intelligent transport systems, utilities management and resources recycling. Many cities in India already have a network of CCTV (closed circuit television) cameras monitoring spurious activities at major places like airports railway stations, shopping malls and heritage monuments.
Apart from such technology interventions in public places, our homes are also increasingly becoming tech-dependent for ensuring security of their resident. According to a Frost & Sullivan study in 2008, the electronic security market in India is around Rs 1,000 crore and expected to grow at 40 percent over the next three years.
Technology and nature can play a symbiotic role, and that is where the concept of Biomimcry takes root (see understanding Biomimicry)> A concept that is currently being used in Lavasa. Biomimicry is the prudent use of nature’s techniques to create products and designs that could be used in day to day living.
World over transport systems are undergoing radical transformations with the advent of technology -- traffic lights that sense traffic at nearby traffic junctions to ascertain the optimum stop time; replacing long ticket queues to get a metro ticket with magnetic stripe cards; detections systems that toll the usage of your cars automatically etc. While some of these are already underway in some cities in India, we have a long way to go before our cities can be called cities of the future.
Technology only as a service delivery platform:
Using technology as service delivery platform in Indian cities is a concept that is yet to catch on. While in the USA a third of the consumers would prefer a technology enabled means of paying their in bills, in India this trend would take some time to catch up given the computer penetration levels. Technology can not only make the payment of utilities bills easier but also help in slashing them. Intelligent switching systems automatically turn off lights in rooms where no human activity is detected for a pre-set period of time.
This just goes to show that our embracing technology is the only way forward.
-- 19th April 2010 From India
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