Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Sep 15 (IANS) Policy makers and experts from BRICS countries on Thursday emphasised the need to focus more on bringing people in urban areas together by ending social exclusion while developing smart cities and using technology only as a tool.
Participating in the BRICS smart cities conclave, they stressed that the adoption of technology can’t be the ultimate goal of smart city development.
BRICS is an association of five countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Expressing concern over the growing social exclusion in cities, D Alvaro de Oliveira from Brazil suggested setting up of a ‘BRICS human smart cities institute’ to mount collective efforts for integrated – both social and economical — urban development in the context of smart cities.
Citing initiatives taken in Brazil to end social conflicts by creating integrated neighbourhoods in Brazil’s capital Rio de Janeiro, he stressed the need to give primacy to the human aspect of smart city development.
IIT-Roorkee Director Pradipta Banerjee noted that the smart city development is not all about technology but about meeting the needs of people.
He said urban development approaches should address trust deficit between the people and governance institutions.
South Africa’s Philip Harrison asked BRICS nations to ensure that urban development with focus on smart cities does not further increase existing inequalities in urban areas.
He said governance should not be allowed to become more technocratic and less responsive.
Lie Tie from China said that given huge mobile and Internet penetration in his country, the government is making Internet the cornerstone of enhancing efficacy of municipal governance and employment generation.
Georgy Antsev of Russia gave an account of the technology-based initiatives taken in his country to effectively respond to natural disasters and ensure immediate and timely relief to the affected people.
During a discussion on ‘Financing Urban Infrastructure’, the experts referred to the strong correlation between inequality in access to infrastructure and inequality in incomes in urban areas.
The participants stressed the need to make urban local bodies self-reliant through enhanced resource allocations, including issuance of ‘municipal bonds’ for which, they said, cities have to become credit worthy.