How data helps India's cities adapt to rapid urbanization

Bangalore, India urban resilience planning
ShutterstockVincze Szabi
A rendering of Bangalore, India — one city where new approaches to data are being applied to urban planning.

This story originally appeared on 100 Resilient Cities.

Dramatic demographic shifts are changing the face of India, home to the world’s earliest urban civilization. By 2050, 40 percent of the country’s 1.5 billion inhabitants will live in cities.

In 100 Resilient Cities locations from Bangalore, India, to Accra, Ghana, population growth poses a host of resilience challenges, from managing water resources — too much, too little and how clean? — to providing adequate health and waste management services to rich and poor alike.

To address these challenges, cities must understand the new scope of the services they need to deliver to optimize precious human, natural and financial resources in the face of rapid urbanization. A significant component of 100RC’s commitment to helping cities leverage resources better is identifying Platform Partners that can guide and partner with cities to help them achieve this understanding.

One of 100RC’s newest Platform Partners, Navigem, is unique in two ways.

It is already helping cities in India, including some in the 100RC network, tackle resilience challenges in real time and save money. By providing resources to organize, analyze and operationalize city data, Navigem enables cities to improve public service delivery and increase accountability and transparency in city management.

(IBM Smarter Cities India — The Urban Effect Infographic)

Two, it is 100RC’s first Platform Partner in India, which is critical to expanding its role in this important, burgeoning country.  

Navigem is committed to help 100RC cities find better ways to incorporate and use data. Better use of data  getting the right data, cleaning up the data to make it understandable and giving decision-makers easy access to it  can facilitate better, more resilient urban governance.

For example, in 100 RC member city Bangalore, Navigem pulled demographic data, socio-economic profiles, land use patterns and geographic information to provide the government with data-based solutions to the city’s waste management crisis. Navigem’s collaborative data collection and analysis approach provided the city with a dynamic dashboard-driven resource calculator, a planning and predictive analytics engine, and a mobile (Android & iOS) app for route optimization and real-time resource monitoring.

By looking at all of its existing data and collecting new information about waste in real time, Bangalore learned what contributed to waste piling up in streets instead of making it to dumps, and was able to implement a number of strategies including optimized routes, efficient resource allocation and a new recycling education program to reduce uncollected waste.

Breaking down the confines of departmental data and aggregating these streams leads to more-inclusive data and gives city officials a more holistic vantage point to confront challenges ranging from waste management to water to crime. This way, administrators aren’t planning in the dark.

City resilience requires more than maintaining essential services as cities grow. Policymakers need to understand how their cities’ challenges are changing, so they can serve inhabitants better, mitigate, pre-empt and solve urban challenges more affordably and effectively, and become more resilient.

100RC and Navigem are eager to get to work helping administrators, in Indian cities and across the globe, access the data and work across departments to build a resilient future.

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