The challenges of urbanization in India are well known. According to a McKinsey report,, the country will witness 40% urbanization in 2030 and at least five states – Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka & Punjab – will have more than 50% people living in cities.
If you think now is chaos imagine it then! So what can be done to improve this situation? Is it just for the Government to provide the answers or can citizens and other institutions, by virtue of being the ones who will be most impacted, also join hands to find solutions?
Perhaps the answer lies in Collaborative Citizenship that can be replicated across cities in different priority areas. These collaborations can include the Government, citizens, academia, NGOs and corporate. Increasingly it is becoming clearer that no one State, Organization or an individual can alone solve the complex challenges that the community faces. It is becoming important to pool the resources, experiences and tools to come up with the appropriate solutions. Most of these challenges are interlinked and need a more concerted effort.
The most innovative format is to bring in the expertise available with the corporate sector to offer their skills as volunteers to find solutions. In many organizations, fund availability is not an issue but the right kind of skills to develop a road map and design a solution is what is required. IBM has been in the forefront of experimenting with this innovative idea. In 2011, we had very senior executives work with local governments to develop road map for cities across the across the world and to provide recommendations.
Going by the success, IBM will be deploying two teams of executives in the cities of Ahmedabad and Pune to work alongside the Municipal Corporations. The executives will provide strategic technology based solutions in areas which will make the cities a better place to live. IBM executives will work on site for a few weeks to understand the real life situation and then define a strategic approach or a blue print which the Government representatives can then take forward. Some of the interesting work done in other countries is available on http://smartercitieschallenge.org/.
Perhaps other such innovative ideas have also been implemented and it would be good to know of examples involving collaboration with public policy makers, civil society and corporates.
This is contributed by Mamtha Sharma, leader for Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs for IBM in India / South Asia .