The Future of Smart Cities: University of Toronto partners with IIT-Bombay, Tata Trusts and Government of Ontario to deliver two-day Smart Cities workshop in Mumbai, India

By Shauna Brail, Presidential Advisor on Urban Engagement & Director, Urban Studies Program

surat smart city centre

India, the 2nd largest country in the world by population with just under 1.3 billion people, is urbanizing at a rapid pace. The Government of India has committed funds to develop100 smart cities across the country, with an emphasis on building and supporting the physical, digital and data infrastructure required to accommodate unprecedented urban growth at a key point in the nation’s transformation. It is projected that the population of India’s cities will grow by an additional 200 million people over the next fifteen years. India’s 100 Smart Cities initiative represents an opportunity for India to guide physical, economic and social opportunities for its citizens and for the nation as a whole in the coming decades.

In connection to this agenda, nine faculty members and researchers from the University of Toronto traveled to Mumbai, India in May 2017 to lead a workshop on The Future of Smart Cities. Participants included faculty from Arts & Science; Daniels Faculty of Architecture Landscape & Design; Applied Science & Engineering; Dalla Lana School of Public Health; University of Toronto at Mississauga; and research directors from the Institute on Municipal Finance & Governance and the University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute. In addition, faculty members from the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay Centre for Urban Science and Engineering also participated in leading workshop sessions.

The workshop was sponsored by the University of Toronto, the Centre for Urban Science & Engineering at IIT-Bombay, Tata Trusts and the Government of Ontario. It was held in conjunction with Municipalika, an annual exhibition and conference aimed at informing and guiding municipal officials and administrators, built environment professionals and engineers from across the country about smart and sustainable practices solutions to urban growth. University of Toronto Distinguished Professor Mark Fox, who has extensive knowledge of India and is an expert on smart cities, led the development of the workshop.

Our group was welcomed by conference organizers as well as by the Canadian Consulate and High Commissioner to India, Nadir Patel.

During the Future of Smart Cities workshop, presenters from UofT and IIT-B approached the definition of smart cities from a broad perspective, considering physical and social infrastructural needs as well as the role of management and services required for the sustainable operation, inclusive development and growth of metropolitan areas. Presentations connected leading-edge research and knowledge together with strategies and recommendations for approaching India’s next decade of smart cities development.

While in India, the UofT delegation also travelled to two of India’s smart cities – Surat and Pune. We met with civic officials to discuss local approaches being developed towards each municipality’s goal of becoming a smart city, shared expertise and considered opportunities for future collaboration and partnerships.


Pictured from L-R: Pradipta Banerji (IITB), Judy Farvolden (UofT – UTTRI), Eric Miller (UofT – FASE), Poornima Dore (Tata Trusts), Patricia O’Campo (UofT – DLSPH), Mark Fox (UofT – FASE), Enid Slack (UofT – IMFG), Shauna Brail (UofT – FAS), David Wolfe (UofT – UTM), Robert Wright (UofT – FALD), Lavanya Pankajan (Tata Trusts).
Not pictured: Yu-Ling Cheng (UofT, FASE)

Link to UofT news story:
https://www.utoronto.ca/news/urban-experts-u-t-and-india-share-city-building-know-how

Link to article in Policy Options:
http://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/august-2017/smart-cities-and-lessons-from-india/

Link to presentations:
Data-Driven Building Design Heuristics by Dr. Ronita Bardhan
Urbanization, Social Infrastructure & Smart Cities by Prof Shauna Brail
Fecal Sludge Management – Where Are We and Where Do We Go From Here by Yu-Ling Cheng
Microgrids and Energy Management by Suryanarayana Doolla
Data Driven Governance by Dr. Poornima Dore
A Call for Collaborative Action by Dr. Judy Farvolden
Challenges in Building the Information Infrastructure of Smart Cities by Prof Mark S. Fox
Towards Disaster Resilient Smart Cities – Making our Smart Cities Flood Resilient by Prof Kapil Gupta
Affordable Housing in India – Case of Mumbai by Arnab Jana
Urban Water Systems – Improving Sustainability and Developing Resilience by Prof Pradip Kalbar
Smart, Sustainable Urban Transportation A “Science of Cities” Approach by Prof Eric Miller
Creating Healthier Cities by Prof Patricia O’Campo
Smart Metropolitan Governance by Enid Slack
Smart Metropolitan Finance by Enid Slack
Intelligent Communities, Smart Cities and the Nature of Urban Innovation by Prof David Wolfe
Smart Cities – Open Space and Public Parks by Prof Robert Wright