"Smart city" remains loosely-defined in India and around the world, but many say the adoption of technology is a crucial element. Ambitious initiatives to build "smarter" cities include the use of data and digital infrastructure to manage energy and water usage to the creation of intelligent transport networks, according to a Brookings report earlier this year.
However, India will likely focus on fixing the lack of basic amenities and infrastructure such as housing, water supply, sanitation, and electricity in existing urban regions.
"A large part of this initiative is just to get the existing cities working in a more efficient way," said Nicholas Holt, Asia Pacific head of research at Knight Frank. He noted that at least 50 of the 100 planned smart cities will be brownfield - existing cities.
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Cyberabad, located on the outskirts of Hyderabad, is an example of a brownfield smart city in progress. Jayesh Ranjan, managing director of the Telangana State Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (TSIIC), describes the area's retrofitting program in a March article: converting large buildings into green, energy-efficient, and zero-waste units; promoting the idea of cycling to work and implementing a water conservation strategy.
"These interventions can be considered low-hanging fruits in the sphere of smart cities. There is no use of sophisticated technology in any of them," Ranjan writes. This retrofitting model is "symptomatic of what lies ahead when full-scale Brownfield smart cities development will be undertaken," he adds.