Lucknow

Urbanisation – Opportunity for smart growth

Countries like India are witnessing a very fast migration of population from rural areas to urban areas. It is also showing in the reducing weightage of agriculture in the GDP. This has been a phenomena observed worldwide – today’s developed world had seen it in the middle of last century coinciding with the industrial revolution. There are lessons to be learnt from those examples and plan for it in advance. Communities across country will be compelled to adopt technologies and processes keeping this reality in perspective.

With more and more of population living in cities, urbanization is bringing in significant changes to social and economic structure of these. It’s also exerting significant pressure on infrastructure and resources and potentially opening the door to urban catastrophe if prior planning is not done. At the same moment, it gives local governments an opportunity to plan and correct the infrastructural and social disparities of past.
If cities don’t work for entrepreneurs, employers, and citizens in the same breath, then the related flows of trade, technology, infrastructure and employment will be squeezed. Creating a master plan of fast growing cities, taking into account also the rural areas that it is likely to swallow, is just the first step. If administrations can harness data-driven intelligence to identify appropriate opportunities and priorities and create a smart plan it will ensure an equitable and futuristic development. Another opportunity which this phenomena offers is to get the data of all the various departments to talk to each other through smart algorithms and use it to create a seamless urban perspective. It will help in deploying predictive services ensuring right services to the right population group, at the right time.

Latching on to this idea, a number of cities, ably pushed by central government, have started working to create smart cities, though with varying understanding. Some look at it as use of technology to optimize the urban infrastructure and traffic flow. Others look at it as a push towards initiating smart governance, where policy making is more driven by data and logic and oriented towards its citizens. Some technologically advanced administrators are planning to use Internet of Things (IoT) platforms to monitor city infrastructures, which means managing everything from traffic flows and parking to water and air quality through centrally controlled and data driven approach. Data generated thus, can be used to further enhance environmental sustainability and creation of renewable energy resources.

Most urban centers in India are struggling with a creaking infrastructure and legacy planning issues. Therefore, this opportunity to reorient and plan for fast urbanisation opens new roads to set it right. A data based smart planning will help orient cities around a couple of central themes and can deliver a citizen-centric development. The planning for employment opportunities, future patterns of flow of people and more equitable social development will set these cities on a growth path. If we miss this opportunity now, our cities will end up being chaotic masses which will be a social and economic disaster. The choice between a smart growth and an urban mess is to be made now.

Vertical expansion – Answer to urban land scarcity

India is witnessing an unprecedented growth in urbanization. Better health care facilities and educational and job opportunities are driving people from rural areas to urban centers and resulting in huge population growth. This brings the challenges of land planning and environmental control to town planners. Expanding cities horizontally to make room for all these people will end up destroying more natural resources and therefore vertical growth of cities is being considered as a viable option. Building upward instead of outward enables us to host large number of people in a small area, conserving land and natural resources. The remaining and available land, therefore, could be used to create civic infrastructure for the population living in the locality.

Vertical expansion – Answer to urban land scarcity

The advent of high-rise buildings have also coincided with provision of world class amenities in housing projects. A vertical growth also offers people living on higher floors a panoramic view of the city around and makes life beautiful. A high floor living also avoids noise pollution and other challenges which affect quality of life in low rise developments. Various amenities including car parking etc can be managed in the basement and lower floors to ensure a smooth passageway to walkers. With fast lifts fitted in these buildings there is no challenge in moving between floors. In fact, all the premium buildings in mega cities like Mumbai and Delhi NCR are vertical developments.

Vertical buildings could also offer other environmental benefits. Having numerous services and amenities in the same tower would reduce the need for moving around. This can also save fuel and energy.

These buildings also create social connectivity by making it easier for individuals to socialize in common areas and visit friends. More like minded people in one place also offers opportunities to create micro-communities based on interest in these housing societies, reducing the need to go out and socialize. As more families live in a small foot-print, it is easy to develop social and civic infrastructure in that area as the users are already there.

Earlier people were concerned about multiple inconveniences related to high-rise living. However, with advent of better technology in almost every aspect, these are no more the real challenges. The modern building design and construction technologies ensure that we can keep building higher without worrying about structural safety. In fact, these building designs are more resilient than the traditional low floor construction. Most Indian cities have now 24*7 power supply, resulting in no downtime for various equipments including elevators in these buildings. The building safety norms are in place and following these is mandatory, making these buildings safer. Also, a behavioural factor weighs in, as high rise developments are done only by large developers with help from reputed construction companies, they offer better construction quality than the houses built by part time developers.

Vertical expansion of cities, without a doubt is viable solution to urban land scarcity. For the people who live there, also taste the luxuries of life which are not easily available in low height developments. It is not uncommon to see a prestige associated with this living.