The Government of India recently announced it is accelerating the pace of its Smart Cities Mission by asking states to focus on impactful and public-private-partnership-based smart city projects, which can achieve results over the next year and have a rigorous review mechanism in place.

The Smart Cities Mission presents many opportunities for Canadian players in the technology and infrastructure sectors to promote their services and expertise.

BACKGROUND

In 2015, the Government of India launched its Smart Cities Mission with the aim of developing 100 smart cities across the country. The Smart Cities Mission’s objective is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of smart solutions.

India is urbanizing at a rapid pace. Nearly 31 per cent of India’s current population lives in urban areas and this number is expected to climb to 40 per cent by 2030. The Smart Cities Mission emphasizes building and supporting the physical, digital and data infrastructure required to accommodate such unprecedented urban growth.

While there is no consensus on the definition of a smart city, India’s government views smart cities as places that operate as part of an ecosystem that includes institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructure and services.

SMART CITIES MISSION ON THE FAST-TRACK

After India’s government announced the acceleration of its Smart Cities Mission, India’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, who is responsible for the Smart Cities Mission, urged India’s states to ensure that work begins by November 2017 on 261 identified impactful smart city projects in 60 cities across the country. These identified projects account for an investment of C$5.8-billion. The states have also been asked to speed up work on 370 public-private-partnership (PPP) projects that involve an investment of C$6-billion. The projects identified range from urban space development in Amritsar at a cost of C$195-million to the redevelopment of a 340-acre area in Bhopal at a cost of C$570-million. This move follows directives from India’s Prime Minister, who put an emphasis on early implementation of projects during a recent review of the initiative.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR CANADIAN COMPANIES

With an increase of almost 30 per cent in bilateral trade over the past two years between India and Canada, this initiative presents many opportunities for Canadian players in the technology and infrastructure sectors. In order to pursue such opportunities, the High Commission of Canada in Delhi and the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program organized a Canadian Smart Cities Mission to India in February 2017, for Canadian companies engaged in infrastructure and smart cities technology.

Also supporting Canadian interest in the Smart Cities Mission is the long-standing memorandum of understanding between India and Canada in co-operation with the road transportation sector with a focus on Intelligent Transportation Systems and Road Safety.

Although the Canadian government is expected to launch its own C$80-million smart cities competition in the fall of 2017, the scope and financial incentives of India’s Smart Cities Mission may also prove rewarding to Canadian companies.