Dr. Shirish Sinha, Deputy Head Swiss Cooperation Office India, Embassy of Switzerland and Dr. Monalisa Sen, Senior Manager ICLEI South Asia & city coach for Siliguri, at the CapaCITIES booth
The CapaCITIES booth drew a lot of interest from the visitors at the expo, which included Govt. officials and private organisations. They were curious to know how the CapaCITIES project fits into the Smart Cities Mission and the overall urban development paradigm. Discussions on collaboration in the partner cities took place.
On the second day, a panel discussion on ‘Swiss Innovations for Smart Cities in India’ was organised, in which Mr. Daniel Ziegerer and Dr. Shirish Sinha from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Mr. Asok Narayan Bhattacharya, Mayor of Siliguri and Mr. Ashish Rao Ghorpade, city coach for Udaipur, representing the CapaCITIES project, participated.
Speakers at the Swiss session: (left to right) Dr. Shirish Sinha, Deputy Head Swiss Cooperation Office India, Embassy of Switzerland; Mr. Jens Hauggaard, Sales Manager Paradox Engineering; Dr. Sameer Maithel, Director Greentech Knowledge Solutions & Co-Team leader Indo-Swiss Building Energy Efficiency Project BEEP; Mr. Asok Narayan Bhattacharya, Mayor of Siliguri; Mr. Ashish Rao-Ghorpade, Regional Executive Manager ICLEI South Asia & City Coach, CapaCITIES Project; Dr. Andreas Baum, Ambassador of Switzerland; Mr. Daniel Ziegerer, Head Swiss Cooperation Office India; Mr. Jean- Michel Deckers, CEO Smixin SA; Mr. Cédric Morel, CEO Sensile Technologies; Mr Frédéric Juillard, CEO TreaTech (Picture courtesy: Embassy of Switzerland to India and Bhutan)
Mr. Daniel Ziegerer, Head, Swiss Cooperation Office India, Embassy of Switzerland, the moderator of the session, greeted the gathering and invited the Ambassador of Switzerland to India and Bhutan, Dr. Andreas Baum to deliver the welcome address.
Dr. Baum in his address, outlined the challenges that urbanization will pose in Asia with regard to urban planning, pollution abatement, urban services (water, sanitation, transport) and infrastructure. These challenges will be more severe in a country like India where 400 million will be migrating to cities by 2030. Climate change will further add another level of complexity. The solutions offered through the Smart Cities Mission will help address the challenges posed by rapid urbanization. Thus “Cities will be hotspots of India’s sustainable development.”
Dr. Shirish Sinha, Deputy Head, Swiss Cooperation Office India, Embassy of Switzerland, spoke on the challenges posed by rapid urbanization and opportunities which the Smart Cities Mission offers to overcome the same. His presentation was aimed at triggering the panel discussions focussing on the challenges to be tackled in Smart Cities and designing of solutions for the same through Swiss cooperation. He highlighted upon various initiatives of the Government of India, including Smart Cities, AMRUT, Swachh Bharat Mission, Housing for all, that aim at urban transformation. Dr. Sinha remarked, “The current government sees urban development as an engine for economic growth”. There is tremendous pressure on housing, energy, water and sanitation infrastructure in cities, due to rapid urbanisation. Further adding the layer of climate change, cities in India will have to deal with heat stress, inundations, shortage of water, health risks and extreme weather events. Smart solutions are needed to ensure adequate water, assured electricity, sanitation for all and affordable housing.
Mr. Asok Narayan Bhattacharya, Mayor of Siliguri spoke about solutions required in Siliguri and other Indian cities. He has been associated with urban development in cities for over 15 years during his tenure as the Minister for Municipal Affairs and Urban Development and Town Planning in West Bengal. Introducing Siliguri as the gateway to the northeast, Mr. Bhattacharya spoke about its critical geopolitical position and historical importance. He highlighted the fact that rapid urbanisation is posing challenges in Siliguri, which is also situated on an earthquake prone zone. The trend of urbanisation can be understood from the fact that the number of vehicles in the city is growing faster than the rate of population growth. He expressed gratitude to SDC for having chosen Siliguri as part of the CapaCITIES project. He concluded by saying that “Urbanisation is inescapable and the participation of people is essential to make the process sustainable”.
Mr. Ashish Rao Ghorpade, Regional Executive Manager ICLEI South Asia & City Coach, CapaCITIES Project , representing ICLEI South Asia, deliberated on how low carbon, climate resilient development was being supported in four fast growing, diverse Indian cities (Rajkot, Coimbatore, Siliguri and Udaipur) under the CapaCITIES project. In Udaipur, a city with minimal public transport system, e-rickshaws have been launched to augment public transport. The CapaCITIES project, supported by SDC, aims at achieving a lower greenhouse gas emission growth path and increasing the resilience of the four cities to climate change.
Dr. Sameer Maithel, Director, Greentech Knowledge Solutions spoke about energy efficient building designs, technology and regulations. He touched upon three aspects- design process, thermal comfort and external movable shading systems that are being used under the Building Energy Efficiency Project supported by SDC, with an aim to make all new construction more energy efficient. “Through simple ‘process solutions’, energy usage can be significantly reduced.”
Mr. Jean Deckers, CEO Smixin SA, explained the need for using innovative technologies to conserve resources in Smart Cities. He elaborated this through the example of a handwashing technology that his company has developed. It optimizes water consumption using an automated process which enables a saving of almost 90%. The technology also addresses the element of hygiene.
Mr. Jens Hauggaard, Sales Manager, Paradox Engineering – Minebea Mitsumi Group introduced the work on smart urban communication networks, being carried out by his organisation. Specializing in telecommunications, Paradox Engineering is able to provide solutions based on the Internet of Things (IOT). Linking up devices in the field using a narrow band network, they are able to offer smart technology excellence for Smart Lighting, Smart Waste, Smart Energy, Smart Cities and any other smart environment. The organization has an international presence, working in countries like Cambodia, USA, Spain, Switzerland, and Italy. Mr. Hauggaard explained that for India they can offer chipsets which can be integrated into IOT devices.
Mr. Cedric Morel, CEO, Sensile Technologies spoke about the potential of remote metering solutions through their Internet of Tanks. They remotely monitor tanks (gas tanks, lubricant tanks, etc.) and are able to control the logistics of delivery saving their customers at least 30% of costs involved.
Mr. Frederic Juillard, CEO TreaTech, a small startup dealing with sewage sludge valorization was another panelist. Most sludge ends up in rivers, or is incinerated/landfilled which can contribute to an increasing in GHG levels in the atmosphere. TreaTech is reinventing the liquid waste disposal process by converting sludge into fertilizer, biogas and clean water. They are able to treat 10 tonnes of sewage sludge a day. However, Mr. Juillard stated that there are several challenges in India in the domestic sector as only 20% of households are connected to the sewerage system. He felt that his technology could be better used by the industries.
Discussions with the audience focused on methods to implement Swiss technologies in India, need for changing urban behavior to ensure long term sustainability of any technology and methods to carry out citizen awareness.
The panelists unanimously agreed that there were a lot of challenges in customizing solutions to make them suitable to the Indian context. However, they are hopeful that solutions in that direction will also be worked out through building capacities of officials, influencing behavioral changes, and providing infrastructure and technology solutions.