Simi Mehta, Ismail Haque, Radu Carciumaru, Athar Imam Raza and Arjun Kumar

Under the aegis of the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Kolkata, a two-day IndoGerman Workshop on Smart Cities: Sustainable Urban Development was held on November 27-28, 2018, at Radisson Ballygunge Hotel in Kolkata, West Bengal.

The Workshop was organised by Heidelberg University, Germany (Branch office, New Delhi), Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and School of Planning and Architecture Delhi (SPA), jointly with the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI) in collaboration with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, University of Calcutta and the IndoGerman Chamber of Commerce, Kolkata. The event was supported by the Friedrich Neumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF).

Since 2016, Heidelberg University (Branch office, New Delhi) together with ORF and SPA organised similar initiatives in Aizawl, Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, Coimbatore, Kochi, New Delhi, New Town (Kolkata), Pune, Ranchi and Shimla and the series will continue beyond 2018.

The concept of “smart cities” is an area of extensive research, policy formulation, practice, and implementation; it encompasses the adoption of a variety of approaches. The idea of ‘smart cities’ cannot be realized without interdisciplinary inputs and collective ideation. Towards this, the workshops intended to not only openly discuss opportunities and benefits of smart cities mission, but also critically look at the challenges that may arise.

Consequently, the workshop sought to analyse and discuss the urban challenges from an integrated, holistic and inclusive perspective. The Information and Communication innovative Technologies are necessary enabling tools to foster sustainability, whereas an active participation and involvement of civil society is the sine qua non for the success of the smart cities mission!

The workshop brought together scholars, students, policy makers, bureaucrats, government authorities and civil society representatives from both national and the State levels. It focused on themes such as planning and design, management and governance, social, economic and cultural inclusion, gender equality, social innovation, behavioural change, employment, informal economy, skills, housing & slums, heritage and conservation, tourism, infrastructure & services, resources, use of technology and mobility.

Respectively, the two-day workshop, had technical sessions on ‘Smart Governance’, ‘Inclusive Cities’, ‘Mobility’, and ‘Resource Management and Smart Infrastructure & Built Envoronment’. The workshop aimed to strengthen the knowledge transfer-oriented environment that would bridge science, policy and practice.

The participants from various fields of specilaization presented their work, initiatives and ideas, exchanged views and approaches, jointly sought for commonalities and innovative solutions. A report containing the best findings and recommendations of the workshop would be published and circulated to all relevant stakeholders, at international, national, state and local levels.

The workshop commenced with the inaugural session with the lighting of the sacred lamp of knowledge, followed by the welcome remarks and introduction to the workshop series by Dr. des. Radu Carciumaru, Resident Representative, Heidelberg University (Branch office New Delhi).

Special address was delivered by the Consul General Dr. Feiner, German Mission in Kolkata. Mr. Devi Prasad Karanam, IAS, Joint Secretary, Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises and Textiles Department, Government of West Bengal conveyed the Keynote Address.

The media report by Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi can be found here.