Shaping Indian Cities: Planning and Design with Smart City Technologies

Thesis Title: Shaping Indian Cities:  Planning and Design with Smart City Technologies

Aim: As an urbanist, the aim was to insert the smarter elements/ approach in the city through combination of bottom-up and top-down approach.


  1. To find out the details about Indian Smart city proposal and analyse the strengths and weaknesses.
  2. To understand the universal concept of smart city and learn from smarter cities around the world.
  3. To find out the planning and design strategies that can direct Delhi to become a smart city?
  4. To conclude, what is smartness for India and it can be implemented.


With the emergence of the latest concept of smart cities, there is a rapid change of lifestyle and a mass migration to cities. At the same time, cities have high demands of infrastructure such as transport and building, and resources such as food, water, and energy, as well as issues like scarcity of adequate land, unapproachable government. All these are adding to the extreme need to find smarter solutions for cities that can provide better livable conditions for the citizens. Thus, the Indian government planned 100 smart city project. Many questions were raised on the proposal justification on time, money, approach and objectives. Through this project, I am evaluating the current proposal as an urbanist and using the opportunity to refine the project for a realistic and promising future, rather than creating a label of smartness. In this project, I explore the conditional development of smart cities, investigating various examples from different continents and producing an analytical framework towards the approach of making a city smarter. These examples are assisting me to set guidelines, to shape the Indian cities with its own definition of smartness. The focal point of this project is Delhi, but the other Indian cities will be able to learn from the process of selection of projects and principles. Although, due to lack of time, I would emphasis of few sectors of smartness, in selective neighborhoods of Delhi.


Scope - Shaping Indian Cities - Planning and Design with Smart City Technologies


Limitations - Shaping Indian Cities - Planning and Design with Smart City Technologies

Need for Study:

India is remarkably growing. Growing in terms of urbanisation, in terms of big infrastructure and also in terms of population. The growing pollution, uncontrolled urbanisation and chaotic are the proofs how desperately India needs to find smarter solutions. The citizens are really unhappy with the living conditions in general. The uncontrollable growth and the urban effect in India, is leading to high demands of infrastructure such as transport and building, and resources such as food, water, and energy, as well as issues like scarcity of adequate land, unapproachable government. According to the world economic forum, these are the utmost challenges India is facing presently. All these challenges are adding to the extreme need to find smarter solutions for cities, that can provide better liveable conditions for the citizens.

Case Study:

25 smart cities across the world, selected as representatives from each continent.
Vienna, Amsterdam, Barcelona, London, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Manchester, Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Toronto, Rio De Janeiro, Mexico City, Sau Paulo, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Melbourne, Sydney, Beijing, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Masdar City, Tokyo

3 Indian cities for analysis- New Delhi, Pune, Ahmedabad

Significance/usefulness of the project

In this project I proposed 15 living labs (projects) and 8 policies for two contrasting neighborhoods. Using the 15 living labs and supporting policies I tried to reduce the differences in livable conditions of the two sites. The project was correspondingly concentrating on the implementation phase along with the design. The design and implementation model was planned and projected for the smart city plan. The design model is a 4 step model, where the process starts from finding the issues of an area and delineating the  living lab platform, and ends with city scale extension as smart patchwork. This model can be followed in any  Indian metropolitan cities, if the objectives of the smart city are similar. The 4 steps include 4 detailed process like analysis, design, proposal and implementation.  The implementation model is a 4P model, where inclusion of stakeholders and their scope of work has been explained. These models won’t work separately if it is not schemed in a process. I introduced the new term of smart patchwork which will strengthen the growth. If the living labs are proposed according to the site conditions along with supporting policies, no. of living lab platforms can grow eventually. Those platforms will work as smart patches over the city. For example, I proposed 2 living labs, which can be replicated in similar conditions in Delhi, Likewise, it the development can take place in zones/ districts and cities. This would be the process of extension to bigger scale. Which will bring equality in conditions of livability in Delhi.

Main Outcomes/ final analysis/ proposals

In this project I am focused on small changes/ interventions, that impacts a bigger audience and a larger scale. The diagnosis for this project included stages like preparation of a detailed design framework including specific goals, objectives, strategies, projects and policies. Further the implementation stage followed with a detailed strategic plan considering the stakeholders and time phasing of the proposed projects. The design framework explicates the detailed stages of decision making to intervene the sites and Delhi as a whole. The framework comprises of the core issues that molds the focal goals for the project. The primary goal is about the provision of even infrastructure around the city, while the secondary goal is an additive force to organize the city, citizens and the authorities well. The next stage is setting up specific objectives (8 objectives) distributed further in nine strategies that can be applied for both the contrasting neighbourhoods by implementing 15 projects/ effective solutions based on global smart city research. Most of the projects are involving the citizens for a local scale intervention, that can act as demonstration projects for the whole city at later stages. To conceive a better urban setting, the eight recommended policies proposed for a bigger scale (city or zonal) will support the projects for successful implementation.

Analysis - Shaping Indian Cities - Planning and Design with Smart City Technologies

Strategic planning takes into account the internal and external influences that can amplify the projects. The demonstration site can be successfully implemented if the following steps fall right into place:

  1. The living labs (projects) initiated properly
  2. The policies are regulated by the government
  3. Effective collaboration among the stakeholders
  4. The stakeholders/ financiers putting money on time
  5. The citizens are enthusiastic about the change
  6. The steps of time phasing being followed
  7. Each stage of design and implementation are completed in defined time
  8. Monitoring and evaluation is clear

A strategic plan across areas, that can be implemented in stages, will result in an holistic solution in the long term. To ensure the implementation of the strategic plan, A design model and an implementation model has been proposed. Also a scheme further, to explain the process together.

Digital Model - Shaping Indian Cities - Planning and Design with Smart City Technologies
Digital Model
Implementation Model- Shaping Indian Cities - Planning and Design with Smart City Technologies
Implementation Model
scheme of development - Shaping Indian Cities - Planning and Design with Smart City Technologies
scheme of development


Concluding this project I would say smart cities should not be seen as technically advanced urban space but as space intelligently managed with optimal resource used with least resource footprints. By having such localized solutions smart cities can overcome many problems that municipalities face in providing the common services. Few statements that can be made while completing this project would be:

  1. Smart cities in India are possible and should be developed.
  2. Smart patchwork can be one of the successful theories for development.
  3. Smart Urbanism concept is more useful than smart city concept in India.
  4. Act on small areas, rather planning the whole city.
  5. Tailor made approach, not just on a city scale.
  6. Only bottom up or only top down will not make sense.

Recommendations/ Reflection

Few recommendations that I would recommend for Indian cities regarding necessary future developments.  Following are the two main concerns which will ensure efficient spatial development if the objectives and the policies can be strengthened.

  1. Strong commitments towards basic services for betterment of livable conditions.
  2. Focus on smart Indian dimensions rather following the universal path.

Keywords: strategic plan, smart cities, Indian cities, spatial planning, urbanisation

Author – Alankrita Sarkar
Guide & Co-guide – Prof. Vincent Nadin (Spatial Planning), Prof. Ulf Hackauf  (Urban Metabolism)
University – University of Technology Delft, The Netherlands
Post Graduate Thesis
Year of thesis completion – 2017

Citable URl: uuid:abbbc0c2-520e-4acf-936a-54459b619f4b
To read the full project:
More Information (Thesis sheet/ poster) – Shaping Indian Cities_Alankrita Sarkar_posters

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *