Smart City Plan: Columbus, Ohio

US DOT’s Smart City Challenge aims to help cities begin to address the challenges the trends identified in the Beyond Traffic report published by the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. Department of Transportation, n.d.). As part of the challenge, 78 medium-sized cities shared their best and most creative ideas for innovatively addressing the challenges they face. USDOT committed $40 million for one city to demonstrate how advanced data and intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technologies and applications can be used to reduce congestion, keep travellers safe, protect the environment, respond to climate change, connect underserved communities, and support economic vitality (U.S. Department of Transportation, n.d.). In June 2016, Columbus was selected as the winner of the Smart City Challenge. Columbus proposed to reshape its transportation system to become part of a fully integrated city that leverages data and technology with an aim of efficiently moving people and good (U.S. Department of Transportation, n.d.). The 77 cities that did not win the Smart City Challenge benefited from the challenge as well, as the competition gave them an opportunity for creation of detailed applications that spurred additional interest in smart city technology with respect to the challenges the cities are facing (Maddox, 2016)

The Winner – Columbus, Ohio
Ohio’s capital Columbus is the largest city in the state and the 15th largest city in the country with a population of 8,60,090 (US Census, 2016). It is relatively dense for a mid-sized American city. It has a density of about 3800 inhabitants per square mile (around 1500 persons per square km). It serves as a strong regional anchor with 39% of the Metropolitan Area population living in the city. Columbus has grown consistently over time and it continues to become more diverse with growing African-American, Latino and Asian populations. The city has a young working population with a median age of 32 years which is lower than the state (39) and the nation (37) (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017) and has a lower unemployment rate of 3.4% (U.S. Census, 2015). Columbus has a strong and diverse economy, driven by education, healthcare and social assistance services. It is also the fastest growing metro area in the Midwest, the top metro for job growth in the Midwest, and the top metro for wage growth in the U.S. The city recognises these credentials and aims to leverage them to make the City of Columbus- A city of opportunities (Ginther, 2016).

“Columbus won the Smart City Challenge because of Mayor Ginther’s leadership and because the central Ohio community united to develop innovative solutions to address community challenges.” – Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Skyline of Columbus (Source:

Columbus Smart City Vision
With its immense potential and resources, Columbus is striving to become a successful smart city by responding to four primary issues:

  • An aging population;
  • A growing younger population that is moving to the dense urban areas;
  • Mobility challenges in select neighbourhoods; and
  • A growing economy and population with related housing and commercial, passenger and freight, and environmental issues.

Its vision is to become a community that provides beauty, prosperity and health for all of its citizens (Ginther, 2016). It plans to achieve its vision by:

  1. Leveraging a new central connected traffic signal and integrated transportation data system to develop a suite of applications to deliver enhanced human services to residents and visitors.
  2. Integrating electronic appointments and scheduling platform for doctor visits with transit tracking so that rescheduling becomes automated and expecting mothers do not gave to wait weeks to reschedule appointments. These applications include a multi-modal trip planning application, a common payment system for all transportation modes, a smartphone application for assistance to persons with disabilities, and integration of travel options at key locations for visitors.
  3. Establishing a smart corridor connecting underserved neighbourhoods to jobs and services. The smart corridor will enhance Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service by installing smart traffic signals, smart street lighting, traveller information and payment kiosks, and free public Wi-Fi along the route. Further, six electric, accessible, autonomous vehicles will be deployed to expand the reach of the BRT system to additional retail and employment centres (U.S. Department of Transportation, n.d.).

Smart City plan for Columbus adopts Transit Oriented Development (TOD) as an approach for managing city’s transportation. Mayor Andrew J. Ginther understands the connection between city’s transportation and the livelihood of the people. He believes that “Transportation is not just about roads, transit and ride sharing. It is about how people access opportunity. And how they live”. (Smart Columbus, n.d.) Globally, many cities are appreciating and adopting TOD approach to build more liveable cities. In fact, after focused efforts to dovetail infrastructure and technology through its AMRUT and Smart Cities programs, the Government of India is now turning its attention Transit-Oriented Development  (TOD). It has also recently adopted a national TOD policy that will support the transformation process already underway in most of the Indian cities. This transformation will attract lot of  investments to the respective cities, and vastly increase their ‘liveability’ in a sustainable manner.

Highlights of the proposal
There are four foundational plans, which will allow the city to identify and overcome the challenges for achieving its desired goals (Ginther, 2016).

  1. Connect Columbus: Connect Columbus is the City’s Multimodal Thoroughfare Plan which provides a long-range vision and priority investments for transportation plan in the City. The plan aims designed to improve safety, reduce congestion, assist children, the elderly, and people with ADA needs and promote economic development, fitness and environmental responsibility.
  2. Insight 2050: Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), the metropolitan planning organisation for Columbus, leads Insight 2050. It is a collaborative initiative among public and private partners designed to help Central Ohio proactively plan for growth and development. Insight 2050 provides scenario testing tools and data to help decision makers understand the impact of future land use policies and the transportation investments.
  3. 2016-2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan: As the region continues to grow and funding availability becomes scarce, the region is prepared with innovative transportation solutions to address grown infrastructure demand. The Metropolitan Transportation Plan is the federally mandated long-range planning document led   by MORPC that brings together local governments from around Central Ohio and other local, state, and federal agencies to identify and coordinate transportation goals, policies, strategies and projects over the next two decades.
  4. NextGen Plan: The NextGen Plan is the Central Ohio Transit Authority’s (COTA) long-range planning effort to identify transit needs and opportunities for 2025, 2040 and 2050. The initiative will recommend system enhancements, including a prioritised list of bus and rail projects along with what technology to employ. COTA will comprehensively realign its network to better fulfil the needs of the growing community.

Columbus has outperformed a number of other deserving cities, which were far more technologically advanced and financially stronger, because:

  1. The proposal provided a path for growth beyond the initial applications through its clearly defined vision and goals (McGregor, 2016).
  2. Its focus on improving the health and lives of the community by reducing poverty and infant mortality with the application of technology (Hawkins, 2016).
  3. The ability of the city to rope in local partners as well as prominent tech-based companies to help in achieving the goals set for smarter Columbus (Chieppo, 2016).

Key points of comparison with Indian Smart Cities
The greatest difference between cities participating in the Smart City Challenge in the United States and those participating in the Indian Smart Cities Mission is the level of existing infrastructure. Columbus additionally illustrates a strong commitment to the sharing economy and has a foundation for providing open, accessible data that enables other stakeholders to develop solutions for the greater good. This is also evident from the city’s investment in policy and regulatory changes that encourage bike sharing (CoGo) and car sharing (Car2Go, Uber) services. The city also has a working MyColumbus app that enables citizens to access (Ginther, 2016):

  • City services
  • Publicly accessible transit routes, schedules, and stop data
  • MORPC Regional Data Lab portal that provides access to transportation, housing, and other public information available around the region
  • State-wide accessible travel-time data Indian cities, on the other hand, have taken up a bigger challenge of leap-frogging development. As seen through the new urban agenda and its initiatives, Indian Smart Cities are bridging the existing service delivery gaps while embedding “smartness” into the system in the process.

Columbus’ Smart City Plan also successfully leverages about 10 times the initial government grant by building partnership with the private sector. A review of the finances from the first 33 cities shows an average funding leverage of 1.18, with a maximum of 5.29 in case of Indore and a value less than 1 for more than half the cities. However, with the growing focus on engaging with private partners (as seen under the smart cities mission) and the adoption of the country’s first value capture finance policy framework in February 2017, Indian cities are now set to find more opportunities for leveraging finances from alternative sources.

Some of the Indian cities are already demonstrating steps in this direction through the implementation of global best practices. An example of this is the city of Pune. Under the Smart Cities Mission, it is collaborating with Google, L&T and other technology firms to provide Wi-Fi connectivity at around 200 strategic locations in the city (Press Trust of India, 2017). Under the contract, Google will help monetise the city Wi-Fi network, and will deploy Google Station platform, which has Wi-Fi network management capability, and focuses on monetisation to make Wi-Fi self-sustainable. RailTel, on the other hand, will provide lat-mile fibre connectivity on need basis to enable Wi-Fi hotspots at around 200 strategic locations across the city (Khan, 2017).

With the support of national level initiatives such as the Smart City Mission, AMRUT among others, cities are working towards efficient and fast project through a collaboration of urban local bodies, state agencies, and local partners including NGOs, educational institutions and community. As Ohio implements its Smart City Plan, there is an opportunity to observe and benefit from the challenges they face and to aid leap-frogging the development in Indian cities.

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Enablers for TOD

Success of any Transit Oriented Development depends on the effective use of implementation mechanisms for land-use planning, land value capture and travel demand management. By shaping the components of a TOD, these enablers link it with the larger city planning processes and goals. As seen in the global practices, enabling mechanisms are of three types – Land-Use Planning Mechanisms, Process Mechanisms and Financial mechanisms.

Land-Use Planning & Design Mechanisms

It includes land-use master plan, overlay plans, influence zone plans, comprehensive mobility plan and other planning and visioning documents which outline a city or region’s plan for growth in the future. The significance of these documents is three fold. First, they present a city’s vision for long term growth and development, second, they outline the land-use and mobility structure of the city and third, they are legally binding in nature and they regulate development. Through a land-use document, a city can establish a statutory framework for the implementation of a development project. This also means that the projects are developed, allowing room for necessary adjustments across the city.
A Master Plan is critical in implementation of a Zonal plan or other mechanisms including Land Assembly under Town Planning Scheme. An example would be the Master Plan of Delhi 2021. Its language enables the preparation of a comprehensive redevelopment scheme for the influence area of an MRTS stations. Initially, the draft MPD-2021 proposed that the influence zones of MRTS stations be further classified into three zone categories with certain location thresholds (Hiroaki Suzuki, 2015). But this strurcture of the influence zone has been changed to into a continuous area within 500 m depth on either side from the center line of MRTS in MPD 2021 TOD Gazetted Notification in July 2015.

Delhi’s use of influence zone is similar to San Diego’s 1992 ordinance which created Urban Village Overlay Zones to promote compact infill development around the transit nodes (trolley stops) (Bhishna Bajracharya, 2005).

Form Based Codes are documents which define the physical shape and design of a built form. These are useful tools in preserving the heritage and culture of a historic neighbourhood. It can also be used to preserve commercial facades, define building envelopes and to in general preserve the activity in a given public space.

Land-Use Planning and Design Mechanisms are important tools in the process of developing a TOD as they provide the statutory framework necessary for various changes in land-use, densities and design of the TOD. Appropriate land-use and design mechanisms may even act as a prerequisite for the process mechanisms. Delhi and Ahmedabad demonstrate this by creating policies for moving the process forward. In reality

though policies which can be restrictive for a long period of time (through master planning exercises) and infact discourage higher density living. Hence having a framework that gives the flexibility to city managers to guide the development is undoubtedly a practical approach. Singapore and Hong Kong exemplify this approach by varying their densities, floor space index in response to market demand on an ongoing basis (Bertaud, 2014).

Process Mechanisms

They are mostly command and control tools and economic instruments which mobilise the projects of all sizes and shapes. These mechanisms include land assembly, transfer of development, establishment of partnerships between local jurisdiction, transit and other regional agencies along with the private sector. Land assembly is among the most complex of processes and a critical step in the densification of a neighbourhood. For the most part, land assembly in India has been conducted through two methods – land acquisition (based on the principle of Eminent Domain) and land pooling and readjustment. Eminent Domain refers to the power of the state or public planning authorities and development agencies to acquire land (with appropriate compensation) for the purpose of public use.

Land Acquisition can enable rapid availability of adequate amount of land for development, provided most of the owners agree for sale. It provides almost a clean slate for the new master plan for the assembled land as the value of the land appreciates, it provides opportunity for the development authority to accrue the benefits (Ballaney). One of the acts governing the process of land acquisition is the Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013.

Urban Growth Boundary

Urban Growth Boundary, as in case of Portland, is a mechanism for managing growth. The Metro Council in 1995 suggested “concentrating development in urban growth boundaries, with some extent of satellite development”. On its basis, Portland prepared its growth management strategy called “2040 Growth Plan” which features a tight Urban Growth Boundary focusing growth in transit centres and corridors, and asks local governments to limit parking, and adopt zoning and comprehensive plan changes to be consistent with the plan.

Land Acquisition faces multiple barriers as listed below:
• Land title disputes
• Proving legitimacy of public use
• Displacement of land owners and loss of livelihood
• Compensation delays and disputes
• Development and redistribution of land
• Hold outs for speculation
• Poor capture of the appraisal of land value by the land owners after development
• Low participation of land owners in the decision making process, particularly when public use has been legitimately established.

As a result, land readjustment and pooling techniques are being used in many parts of the country as an efficient alternative. One of these is a Town Planning Scheme or TPS. A Town Planning Scheme adopts a different approach by engaging the land owners with the development authority for the planning process. In this land pooling/readjustment method, the development authority prepares a master plan for the given area, lays out the infrastructure and distributes the remaining land back to the land owners. There is no land acquisition in the process. Instead, the land owners are charged a betterment fee to pay for the infrastructure development. This allows the land owners to benefit from the appreciation of the land value and enables them to retain their livelihoods. It also means the method can be long and complicated. The method been successfully used in development of Magarpatta, Pune and in Gujarat for development of Sardar Patel Ring Road in Ahmedabad, Outer Ring Road in Surat, BRTS in Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Vadodara and Surat. Land Pooling is used in different countries, including Australia and Finland (I.P.Gautam, 2012).

Transfer of Development Rights is another land readjustment technique. It enables the planners to direct additional development as required, along with improvements to infrastructure, using finances generated through the process. Transferable Development Rights (TDRs) are essentially the rights to develop built space on land that can be transferred (Nallathiga, 2014):
I. horizontally from one location to another location (ex situ), or
II. vertically from surface to above or below (in situ)
Each piece of land has a potential for development defined by the property zoning, land-use and development control regulation (Nallathiga, 2014). The differential development
potential of land can be utilised in a positive manner to preserve certain land-uses which are required to be kept with little or no development on site; while at the same time, this unutilised development potential needs to be tapped for beneficial use in other sector – such as residential housing (Nallathiga, 2014). TDRs essentially serve as a mechanism to achieve this objective. In case of Mumbai, the TDR program was initially started with the intention of acquiring land for public amenities i.e., reservations such as green spaces, gardens and playgrounds, and for road construction. In addition, the award of TDR was also made applicable to plot/land owners if they construct/develop the public amenities (or, planned reservations) as per the rules under DCR. The TDR scheme was later extended to achieve other purposes of city development like slum housing, conservation of built heritage, and even for the development/provision of public amenities that were otherwise to be provided by the MCGM (Nallathiga, 2014).
The challenge in the land assembly processes is the capture of the land value which increases with the improvements made to the land. There are different mechanisms that can capture thisvalue, which fall into the category of financial mechanisms.

Financial Mechanisms

They are of two kinds: the first involves mobilisation of financial resources (which includes capture of land value) and the second involves use of financial tools to enhance quality of life within a TOD through behaviour change. Traditionally, financial resources come from either the central or state government sponsored schemes, such as JnNURM, through land monetisation driven EPC or PPP or through land value capture. EPC and PPP are driven through debt servicing or partnership equity. Land is also a major financial resource which can fund development. Its value can be captured in two ways- monetisation through sale or land and/or air rights or by capture of financial value accrued by the improvement of transit, quality of life and comfort. Any improvement to a transit system leads to a direct increase in the value of the land due to improved accessibility, infrastructure, service delivery and quality of life.
Monetisation of land in also seen in some TPS schemes in Gujarat where a small portion of land is acquired from the owner in exchange of providing infrastructure services instead of charging a betterment fee. This land is then assembled and either used for the infrastructure provision or sold to generate funds for financing the infrastructure improvements and other development.
Value capture is distinct from the user charges or fees that agencies collect once services start being delivered on the infrastructure. Value capture relies more on the intrinsic accretion of value increase in the location of the private land once public infrastructure is implemented in its vicinity. Different ways of capturing land value in India include – Land value tax, Fees for changing land-use, Land Value Increment Tax, Area based Development Charges, Value based Development Charges, Transfer of Development Rights and Incentive FSI, Premium on relaxation of rules or additional FSI, Charges for regularisation of unauthorised development, Land
Urban Growth Boundary
Urban Growth Boundary, as in case of Portland, is a mechanism for managing growth. The Metro Council in 1995 suggested “concentrating development in urban growth boundaries, with some extent of satellite development”. On its basis, Portland prepared its growth management strategy called “2040 Growth Plan” which features a tight Urban Growth Boundary focusing growth in transit centres and corridors, and asks local governments to limit parking, and adopt zoning and comprehensive plan changes to be consistent with the plan.

Giving teeth to the guidelines

Cities often have guidelines or advisory documents instead of regulations and policies in many cases. Guidelines are simply recommendations which should be implemented, but they are not mandatory. One of the simplest examples here is the case of street guidelines, which have been developed in many cities across the country(including Delhi and Chennai), yet they carry little weight due to their advisory nature. Area Based Development within a Smart City Proposal or a city’s Transit Oriented Development Policy, present an opportunity to turn such advisory documents into regulations and policies. Bhubaneswar has proposed this in its Area Based Development, where it is implementing a complete streets policy to diversify its mode share.

Acquisition and Development and Town Planning Schemes.
The second part of financial mechanisms is the use of financial tools for bringing about a change in the user behaviour. Using congestion fees in a CBD area, or enforcing high on-street parking prices would be an example of de-incentivising use of cars in a dense walkable neighbourhood. Implementing subsidies for public transit fare, or implementing single fare system are examples of financial incentives for using public transit. An example of this is Pune’s draft for public parking policy, where it is proposed use of parking cost as a tool to discourage car use and promote transit ridership and walking.
All these mechanisms work at different stages of building a transit oriented development. From assembling land to implementing parking policies, each of them depend on the institutional capacities of various city agencies and departments. The purpose of the enablers is to mobilise the development process. Many of these mechanisms take time and coordination of various other processes. Thus, they need a comprehensive and proactive approach to ensure success.


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Urban Density

Defining Density

The term urban density is multifaceted and covers a broad range of urban characteristics. The relationshi
p between Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and urban density is critical. TOD concentrates most growth and development within a short walk of frequent transit stops and stations giving rise to concept of an active node with mixed economic and commercial activities. The form of development varies from community to community based on local goals, character, and needs and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to achieving an appropriate level of density to support transit. Different studies have highlighted different types and appropriate levels of densities and their relation with various factors including the transit system and travel pattern.


Density, precisely mean the mass or number per unit area, focusing on utilising the available land resource efficiently. Traditionally density has been measured/mapped using built density, residential density and population density.

Measuring Density

To understand the impact Transit Oriented Development has on an urban area, it is critical to measure its impact on urban density over a period of time. To achieve the same there are multiple methods actively followed to calculate it efficiently and effectively, based on the urban context, activities generated as a result, and other concerned factors.

Vancouver Transit oriented community design guideline 2012 suggests concentrating and intensifying activities near frequent transit; focus density in urban centres and around frequent transit corridors and nodes to support a strong demand for transit service; and plan for density that supports community character and promotes quality of life. The strategy for development involves using the valuable land near high-demand transit facilities as efficiently as possible.

Measuring Built-up Area: Floor Space Index (FSI) or Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is the ratio of built-up area of all floors on a plot to the total area of the plot. Built density defines the urban fabric or the form of development; higher this value taller is the built form of the city, other things remaining constant. Builtup area is measured as FSI in Indian cities. FSI values are traditionally capped within Indian cities by using the development control regulations, resulting in a low rise urban form within the cities. To capitalise on the development opportunities in TOD, it is recommended to concentrate the built-up area density (through use of higher FSI) within a walking distance (500 to 800 metres or roughly a 10 minute walk) or a bikable distance (1 km to 1.5 km, roughly about 10 minute bike ride) from the transit stations.

Measuring Households (Residential Density): The number of households (HHs) or dwelling units (DUs) per unit area defines the residential density. It helps to estimate the land area required to accommodate a given population. This measure generally forms a part of the housing strategy with the city planning process. Increasing residential density gives an opportunity to improve affordability of land by distributing the cost of development among a greater number of households and lead to an efficient use of the associated resource and services. London uses the concept of measuring and increasing the residential densities in areas well served by transportation infrastructure. The housing strategy for London recommends densities varying from 30 DUs per hectare in suburban areas to 435 DUs per hectare in central London (Greater London Authority, 2003).
This estimate guides the provision of infrastructure and services for present and future population and indicates where densities may need to be regulated to achieve an optimum level.

Measuring Population: By measuring the number of persons per unit area, population densities estimate the space available or consumed per person. Population density is often further classified into day-time and night-time densities to distinguish between the number of visitors, workers and residents within the area. Higher the difference between day-time and night-time densities, higher is the imbalance in mix of land-uses. Moreover a high number of households and a high value of night time density indicates higher number of people per household. This helps define the capacity of the existing infrastructure and guides the provision of infrastructure and services for future population.

Measuring employment/ jobs: For any TOD, jobs available per household near the transit station is an important parameter to guide the level of density and manage the travel demand. Jobs/HH is a measure of non-residential area needed to support the economic productivity of a space. Mixed-use developments with significant jobs per households ratio will improve diversity. State of Florida, Department of transportation density guideline matrix suggests a range of 15 jobs/HH in urban core (predominantly non-residential) areas having commuter rail or LRT and 4 jobs per household in areas having equal mix of residential and non-residential uses, served by bus. In this standard jobs/ sq. km varies from 40,000 to 2,00,000 jobs based on mode of public transport. Similarly, Ottawa’s comprehensive plan suggests 20,000 to 25,000 jobs/ sq. km for any mixed use development.

Employment density / job density also refers to average floor space available per employee. It is often used as a measure of intensity of use and an indicator of space available per person within a workplace. Employment densities are significant as they have a direct influence on the utilisation of the commercial spaces, thus defining the economic productivity of the space. The City of London has around 97,000 employees/ sq. km, and Canary Wharf, has around 2,32,000 employees/ sq. km (Buchanan, 2008). The employment density depends on the nature of activity. For example, in an industrial space it will be different from that in a space with service sector. Employment density measures can be used to estimate the level of gross employment that can be accommodated within an area.

Cities are complex systems and thereby require multiple views of urban densities at different scales of urban fabric. Indian cities have relied entirely on FSI to regulate densities thereby ignoring the other important parameters. This has therefore deterioriated both the housing and the infrastructure (including public spaces) within the cities. Density regulations for TOD has to be based on high builtup density, high household density and high population density provided that other mitigating elements such as open space provision, pedestrian circulation networks and public transportation corridors are available.

Built Density and Population Density

Dharavi has low FAR: 2, high du/ha: 630 and high population density – 3148 ppH.
Kwong Ming Court, Hong Kong has high FAR – 12.5, high du/ha – 1507, high population density – 4910 ppH.
The Esplanade has high FAR – 9.6, low du/ha – 361, low population
density – 591 ppH.


Kwong Ming Court,
housing estate Hong

Cambridge, MA, The,


Densities, FSI and Crowding

In Mumbai a family averages about 5 people, living typically in an apartment of 25 sq m. That is 5 sq m per person. In Manhattan the apartment size is typically 1,000 sq ft (about 90 sq.m) and occupancy averages 1.7 persons. The average floor space there works out to 55 sq.m per person. Each Manhattan resident occupies 11 times as much floor space as a Mumbai resident. So for the same plot area, FSI 11 will have 11 times the built-up floor area as FSI 1. But because of the space each family takes up, FSI 11 in Manhattan will have the same number of people at FSI 1 in Mumbai. Similarly, in terms of head count, FSI 15 in Manhattan corresponds to FSI 1.33 in Mumbai. These apparently very different FSI values of 15 in one place and 1.33 in another, will give us identical levels of street crowding in both cities. So when you compare FSI in different cities you need to also remember how much floor space each resident occupies in each of those cities (Praja, 2014)

Sirish B. Patel, proposes using crowding as an alternative measure. Indoor crowding, park crowding and amenity crowding. He advocated that FSI alone cannot be a tool for density mapping. He defines Indoor Crowding (IC) as occupants per hectare of built-up area and Street Crowding (SC) as occupants per hectare of street area.

So, instead of saying that in Mumbai people live in 5 sq.m per capita, and in Manhattan occupy 55 sq.m per capita, we can say that in Mumbai Residential Crowding is 2,000 persons per hectare (a hectare is 10,000 sq.m), and in Manhattan Residential Crowding is 182 persons per hectare of built-up residential area. It is an inversion of the residential space taken up per capita (Praja, 2014).

Successful TODs such as Canary Wharf and King’s Cross consider all views of urban densities discussed above. Even Indian cities, such as Delhi have recently recognised these relationships for housing, transportation and infrastructure provision. This can be seen in the Draft TOD policy of Delhi Development Authority from 2012, which mandates that 50% units of size ranging between 32 to 40 sq.m and the balance 50% comprising of homes ≤ 65 sq.m.

These discussed measures alone are not the only ways to measure and regulate density but depends on multiple other factors such as social construct of the urban area, proposed or existing urban policies and projects for the city, existing economic growth magnets and possible target areas for development. Thus, apart from these there are other measures that can be used to map density. These includes street crowding, an indicator of footfall on street and in public places; and availability of open spaces per person, addressing quality of life.

Density in Indian Cities
Over 377 million people live in about 8000 urban centres in India. As per Census of India 2011, there are 3 cities with population greater than 10 million and 53 cities with population greater than 1 million. Top 10 cities having 8% of the total urban population live in just 0.1% of the total land and 53 million plus cities have 13.3% of urban population in 0.2% of the land area in India. Pushkarev and Zupan in 1977 prescribed minimum residential densities ranging between 5400 persons/ to 9000 persons/ (Victoria Transport Policy Institute, 2016) depending on the mode of transit for a TOD. Similarly, State of Florida transport prescribes gross population densities ranging from 10000 persons/ to 20000 persons/ in TOD zones based on mode of transit. In the 33 smart cities announced in the first year of Indian Smart Cities Mission, average city densities varies from values as low as 980 person/ sq. km (Dharamshala) to values as high as 26,555 person/ sq. km (Chennai). Analysis of densities in these 33 cities reveal that even the 75th percentile is only 8719 persons/ sq. km (Bhagalpur) and the average density in is 5916 persons/ Therefore, in case of tier 3 cities like Dharamshala, Panaji, and most of the tier 2 cities such as Raipur, Ranchi etc., there is a definite need to increase densities to support transit investments, provided that other parameters such as housing, public transportation, pedestrian and NMT infrastructure, and urban design are improved. In tier 1 cities of India such as Mumbai and Chennai, densities are high and sufficient for transit, therefore requiring interventions in other aspects of TOD so as to improve the quality of the urban space. The second highest density in the smart cities of first year amounts to only 13,304 persons/ sq. km (Surat), which is considerable lower than the highest density (Chennai).
Even though average densities are low in most of the Indian cities, their core areas have sufficient densities which can generate a demand for public transit system, which may vary from bus based systems to heavy rail depending on the density. In areas in the cities where the densities are low, re-densification together with improvements in urban space (NMT and pedestrian infrastructure, housing and urban design) becomes an important tool. TOD therefore is a tool to optimise densities to improve quality of life.

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Emerging Themes: Financial Resource Management

As the 20 lighthouse cities begin to embark on their smart city adoptions, they have to consciously plan their financial resources. The current resource restrained times require the cities to adopt multiple approaches in their financial planning; improve the efficiency of user fee and property tax collection, explore newer ways of raising revenues such as local municipal bonds and global finance mechanisms such as clean development mechanism (CDM) and reform institutional barriers to attract private sector to finance urban infrastructure. Deployment of ICT enabled sensors on existing and new infrastructure will help to monitor water and energy usage and price the resources to match the demand. Yet, additional resources will have to be raised to cover the operations and maintenance (O&M) costs of these technological interventions. A preliminary analysis of the 20 SCPs shows varying preferences of the cities to tap possible avenues for urban infrastructure financing.

• The cities have identified 6 main types of funding- grants under the smart cities mission, convergence with other missions, public private partnerships (PPPs), borrowing from lending banks, increase in own source revenue and others such as corporate social responsibility.

• Overall, the 20 lighthouse cities will raise Rs. 64,000 crores, thereby leveraging an additional Rs. 44,000 crores against the 20,000 crores investment by the central and state governments.

• Indore, Bhopal and Jabalpur have the most financially ambitious proposals. For every rupee that is funded through the mission, these cities aim to leverage Rs. 5.29, Rs. 4.56 and Rs. 3.64 respectively through a combination of public private partnership, augmentation of own source revenues, long term borrowing and others (corporate social responsibility, state finance grants etc).

• Aside from the central and state grants, own sources accounting for 33% of the planned investments are the biggest source of revenues. These are followed by public private partnerships and convergence funds, both estimated around 13%.

• Land  monetisation is the most widely used tool, understandably by cities seeking to leverage funds using the improved level of infrastructure in the identified areas. Borrowing long term debts to finance capital infrastructure is definitely the least preferred option, possibly due to lack of good credit ratings of the municipalities.

• Per capita expenditure inversely influence financial efficiency. From an efficiency point of view, the cities of Ahmedabad (Rs. 3401), Chennai (Rs. 2940) and Surat (Rs. 5812) exhibit the most cost effective smart city proposals. These cities have the lowest per capita proposed expenditures for their smart city plans.

• Cities need to assess capital financial needs of their smart city plans against the annual municipal revenues they generate. The higher the ratio of resources needed to the municipal income, the greater is the need to improve the income the cities can generate while the opposite case is strictly not true.  Bhubaneswar, Belagavi and Jabalpur need resources multiple times their annual municipal incomes and consequently need to look at increasing their revenues over the duration of the SCP.  This revenue capacity needs to be continually augmented to sustain the smart city effort and to scale it from a specific area to the entire city.

• Alongside the revenue capacity, equally important is the expenditure capacity. This indicator represents the city’s capacity to execute the smart city proposal based on the recent municipal expenditure. It is calculated by dividing the proposed annual SCP expenditure by latest available actual municipal expenditure. A resultant number less than 1 indicates that the Smart City Proposal is well within the city’s existing capacity. A number greater than 1 indicates that the city has not executed a project of this scale previously and needs to focus on capacity building to ensure its successful implementation. Amongst the 20 lighthouse cities, Pune, Surat, Ahmedabad. New Delhi Municipal Council and Chennai exhibit sufficient financial experience in implementing projects proposed in their SCPs.

• A mobilisation diversity index, similar to the Herfindahl-Hirschman index was calculated to test the diversity of the funding sources (other than the national mission grant) as identified in the Smart City Proposals. The value of HHI is between 0 and 1. A number close to 0 indicates that the funding sources are less diverse, i.e. most funding is from a single source. A number closer to 1 indicates greater diversity of the funding sources, i.e. the funds are coming from a variety of sources. Diversity in funding indicates resilience of the financial plan. Interestingly despite not having any credit rating and therefore low borrowing capacities, the cities of Solapur, Belagavi and Kakinada have the most diversified portfolio for resource mobilisation.

Definitions of Financial Indicators

Budget (INR Crore) – the overall capital expenditure proposed in the SCPs by each city

Budget Efficiency – the overall capital expenditure divided by the population of the city

Funding Leverage – the amount of money to be mobilised by the city divided by the funding identified under national and state schemes

Mobilization Diversity – similar to Herfindahl-Hirschman index, calculated to measure the dependence of the proposal on one or more funding sources

Revenue Capacity – the amount of money to be mobilised divided by the latest municipal revenue of the city

Expenditure Capacity – the amount of money proposed to be spent under the SCP divided by the latest municipal expenditure of the city

JnNURM Property Tax Reform – the status of implementation of JnNURM tax reform

Credit Rating – the credit worthiness of the city

Note: $1 = Rs. 66.48

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NIUA-CIDCO Smart City Lab gives comments on UNCSTD theme paper on Smart Cities

The Committee on Science Technology and Development (UNCSTD) under the Economic and Social Council of the UN has prepared a report on the theme ”Smart Cities and Infrastructure” that is based on the issues paper prepared by the CSTD secretariat, the findings of the panel, country case studies contributed by CSTD members and other relevant literature. This report presents key urbanisation trends and their links to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Siddharth Pandit, Chair, CIDCO Smart City Lab, gave comments on the theme paper as listed under-
Findings and Suggestions from the Indian Smart City Mission experience

    1. A national thrust on smart cities is highly effective in developing countries where local capacities to imagine, plan, budget, implement and monitor the building of a smart urban ecosystem are lacking. The role of the national governments in this case is to help build an understanding of the smart cities, develop a framework for the cities to engage in a competitive mode, handhold and mentor the weaker cities to jumpstart their understanding. More importantly, the national effort should also connect the dots
      • between global sustainable development goals (Goal 11) and local infrastructure (24 parameters in Indian Smart City Mission) and
      • between local needs and global funding, global knowledge bases and global innovation networks
    2. Given the cities are highly context specific and municipal capacities (in developing countries) are low, the smart city approach should integrate opportunities for regenerative learning and replicability. This would necessitate a hybrid approach of neighbourhood development and city wide initiatives. A combination of area based and pan city approaches as seen in the Indian Smart City Mission is an effort to address quick scaling up of successes while mitigating failures, two important characteristics of innovation.
    3. A strategic and integrated planning approach at the city level is the most congruent way to approach smart cities. Given that financial, physical and technological investments needed are large, cities would benefit by integrating and prioritising their investments through coordination of city and regional authorities. Where the local capacities to facilitate this are absent, alternative leaner coordination and implementation structures that complement the current administration can be explored. Such experiments with lean and innovation driven teams within a larger organisation setup have been quite successful in technology firms. The SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) mechanism suggested by the Smart Cities Mission will perform the integration and coordination functions while working with the current municipal administration.
    4. The integration should concurrently occur at all levels of a federal urban governance structure. While cities will benefit from SPV setups, the national urban convergence should occur in areas of mission objectives and funding. This is seen in India’s urban agenda that converges urban infrastructure (AMRUT), digital empowerment (Digital India), Skills Development (Make in India), sanitation and environment (Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan), housing (Housing For All) and even heritage conservation (HRIDAY). It is important to visualise the smart city movement as a coordination mission to integrate other national missions and that technology is an enabler towards this integration and not an end in itself. The smart city mission is a paradigm shift in reimagining and planning cities by integration at all levels through ICT and technology.
    5. Citizen partnerships and environmental sustainability should be at the core of any smart city planning. The citizen partnerships facilitate building wider communication channels with communities and thereby address any unknown risks, integrating inclusionary concerns within the larger city wide ICT adoptions and build trust through demonstration of quick replicable successes. The Smart City Mission has attempted successfully build within the cities, an appreciation for engaging in citizen consultation and partnerships. Equally important is the focus on environmental sustainability by focusing on resource management, reuse and optimisation in areas of water and energy.
    6. Inclusion will be an important priority within the smart city planning. While economic gaps cannot be overcome immediately, knowledge gaps can be closed using ICT. Safeguards have to be developed against ICT interventions that worsen inequality by making applications mobile friendly and language independent. Emphasis should be on ICT interventions for improving public transportation operations and non motorised transport. Citywide public access to wifi can also help to achieve digital inclusion. Inclusion within the smart city planning should address requirement of affordable housing, health, education, economic development and public spaces, as necessitated within the smart city mission. Finally the definition of inclusion should be widened to encompass women, children, senior citizens, physically challenged, migrants, informal livelihood workers, alternative gender, lower income households, single working women and environmentally vulnerable populations.
    7. Urban planning and urban innovation under the smart cities movement will require highly skilled professionals in the areas of urban planning, financial management, urban design, built and information architecture, data visualisation and analysis and technological innovations. An added advantage of such an innovation ecosystem is that the skills built are not local and therefore have a national and global demand. Therefore tapping into global partnerships and knowledge networks is an essential step to quickly build up these skills within local municipal cadres and the local population. The national smart city mission currently has partnerships with governments, academia, multilateral organisations and think tanks globally to scale up the necessary skills for smart city development.

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