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Researchers investigate the role of smart cities in managing COVID-19 pandemic in India


Researchers at the University of Wolverhampton have investigated the role of smart cities in managing the COVID-19 pandemic in India.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected around 216 countries and territories worldwide and more than 2000 cities in India, alone. Urban settings face unique dynamics that have a direct impact on the achievement of preparedness for all types of health emergencies, including COVID-19. Many densely populated cities like Mumbai in India have experienced high numbers of COVID-19 carriers and deaths, reflecting the ease of the introduction and spread of the virus. Other cities such as Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Bengaluru and Kanpur had a higher risk of COVID-19 spread due to their high population densities.

The smart cities mission (SCM) in India started in 2015 and 100 smart cities were selected to be initiated with a total project cost of INR 2031.72 billion. Smart city strategies play an important role in implementing the measures adopted by the government’s COVID-19 mitigation strategies. However, there has been very little work done so far that explores the role of smart cities in managing the COVID-19 outbreak in the Indian context. Therefore, this paper facilitates cities in being sustainable and resilient by providing awareness and understanding to various stakeholders including policymakers, business leaders, professionals working in the crisis management sector and academia on the role of smart cities in managing COVID-19.

Each city is unique and has different challenges, the study revealed six key findings on how smart cities in India managed the COVID-19 outbreak. They used: Integrated Command and Control Centres, Artificial Intelligence and Innovative Application-based Solutions, Smart Waste Management Solutions, Smart Healthcare Management, Smart Data Management and Smart Surveillance.

To help city leaders and decision-makers rethink and act on the pandemic six Cs are recommended:

  1. Crisis management leadership
  2. Credible communication
  3. Collaboration
  4. Creative governance
  5. Capturing knowledge
  6. Capacity building.

Dr Suresh Renukappa, Reader in sustainable value creation at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “This research is a testament to the resilience and innovation displayed by smart cities in India in the face of an unprecedented global health crisis. It serves as a valuable resource for urban planners, policymakers, public health professionals, and technology innovators seeking to explore the synergies between smart city development and pandemic management. India as a nation is looking at establishing a collaborative effort between the state, enterprises, academia, and citizens to not just combat the pandemic but to continue to facilitate life after the pandemic. With India working on new projects like start-up India and Digital India, the future of working on managing and combating outbreaks could be promising. Protocols, systems and procedures need to be put in place to make people ready for the same to happen again”.

This research is part of our ongoing collaborative efforts with the University; the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Raipur, India; The Energy Resources Institute, India; and Bengaluru City University, India.  This work makes a major contribution to research in the field of public sector innovation and public health management. This research calls to further explore the complex issues and the role smart city strategies play in managing the COVID-19 pandemic in both developed and developing countries.

Contributors:  Renukappa, S.Suresh, S.Shetty, N.Gandhi, L.Abdalla, W.Yabbati, N. and Hiremath, R. (2024), “The role of smart cities in managing the COVID-19 outbreak in India”, Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, Emerald publications.

The research has been peer-reviewed and published in the esteemed Smart and Sustainable Built Environment Journal. You can read the full paper on Emerald

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