Toronto University looks to partner Indian institutions for smart cities

April 18, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 05:42 am IST - MUMBAI:

Prof Meric Gertler

Prof Meric Gertler

The University of Toronto is working with various stakeholders in India to address the challenges of dealing with data in the development of smart cities and looking to partner with Indian institutions and regions, its president Meric Gertler said.

As per the plan announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 100 smart cities will be created by 2022 with internet connectivity, e-governance and quality infrastructure .

Mr Gertler said, “It is worth noting that the challenges for creating and mobilising informed and engaged citizens go well beyond fostering IT literacy. For example, current approaches to open government through smart platforms result in massive and complex data sets that defy easy interpretation. Another issue is the ability to compare data across cities, and allow citizens to compare and ultimately improve the quality of goods and services available to them.”

He also said faculty from University of Toronto are working with industry counterparts like TCS, academic partners such as IIT Bombay and cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru to address some of the challenges.

Mr Gertler pointed out that cities like Greater Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi are global mega cities and key engines of growth for India. “Developing the digital infrastructure and connectivity of these cities will have a huge impact on improving governance and sustainability, attracting talent and spawning investment in technology and other associated fields. All of this will have an immediate impact on these cities’ innovation ecosystems and human development outcomes, with ripple effects extending out to their respective states and India as a whole.”

A recent Deloitte report forecast that $150 billion need to be invested in the development of smart cities in India over the next few years and 80 per cent of it is expected to come from the private sector.

Mr Gertler said the flow of capital from the private sector has already started. “Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has invested billions in India including in infrastructure, and technology companies like Google and Oracle are interested in investing in digital infrastructure, all of which are promising signs. Similarly, Prem Watsa, an IIT alumnus has created a new ‘India infrastructure Fund’”.

Mr Gertler also said one of the key elements of smart cities would be partnerships with local institutions of advanced research and higher education. “The world’s leading innovation clusters depend centrally on partnerships between local employers and local educational and research institutes, and this is especially true of smart cities.”

The University of Toronto, along with other leading universities in North America and around the world, is eager to partner with leading Indian institutions and regions.

A recent Deloitte report forecast that $150 billion need

to be invested

in smart cities

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