Cities are about movement. They exist, survive and live as a result of movement; of people, of goods, of services, of information and ideas. A joint workshop was held between the Institute for Future and the Indian Institute for Technology Kharagpur on May 31st, looking to grapple with these issues.
Over 40 representatives from across the transport sector in India are present. The focus is on making urban transport smart and sustainable. For most people attending the workshop their role is to enhance this experience – make movement more accessible, more comfortable, safer, cheaper and improved in some way from the current state. Such improvement is required as (inevitably) the infrastructure and movement channels through which such mobility takes places are inadequate, not meeting all of the current demands places of them by people, citizens or businesses.
Making urban transport smart and sustainable is a global challenge but here in India there are some clear opportunities to help move forward. The joint workshop between IFC and IIT Kharagpur has pointed to the advantages. Being at an early stage of planning and development allows for demand management; there is an awareness of the need to include consultation and ‘bottom up’ – including improved user of existing infrastructure through better information to residents. Critically private care ownership low + public transport ‘norm’ and there are diverse modes across city, accessible by price to address socio-economic disparities.
So where does the ‘smart’ dimension fit into this setting? How does smart – and by that I mean ICT and related initiatives – help to meet improvements? Does smart actually exacerbate the situation, adding more demand for mobility? There are questions that emerged from the workshop that will inform the next stage of the collaboration.