Smart city initiatives in the Asia Pacific will not reach their potential if they focus on delivering cutting-edge technologies without paying enough attention to the needs and experiences of citizens, says a new research.
In the report, "Smart Cities Success: Connecting people, proptech and real estate", JLL says that real estate sector can play key role in making smart cities work for their residents. "A human-centric approach to develop smart cities, innovative financial solutions to attract private sector and elimination of bureaucratic bottlenecks will lead to Mission's success," it added.
The research also highlighted the opportunity for a more human-centric approach to smart city development which promotes inclusiveness, efficiency, sustainability and transparency. It said that as the real estate industry catches up in technology, it could bridge the gap between smart city solutions and the physical spaces where people work, live, and play.
India also had launched the smart cities mission valued at about $30 billion. However, according to the real estate consultant, India's smart city mission faces hurdles similar to other such global missions.
Launched in 2015 to improve sustainability, India's smart cities mission provide affordable housing and tackle other issues to ensure a citizen-friendly environment across 100 cities, it was hailed as a bold and necessary step to cope with India's rapid urbanisation. After four years of drive and some 5,000 projects, there have been significant breakthroughs.
Mr Nair says, "Under the second term of the current government, the Mission is sure to get a significant push in terms of investments and project level developments. This would lead to the overall success of the mission."
"We believe precincts built on a combination of technology and human experience are sure to operate more efficiently for occupiers and can deliver a premium for investors due to lower operating costs and better yields," he added.
However, JLL feels that challenges relating to regulatory hurdles may prove deterrents to growth. It says, "Bureaucracy is one key stumbling block. Given that cities are large and complex, smart city initiatives can succeed only if governments are open to experimentation and willing to invest time and resources in learning from missteps."
According to the report in India, there are challenges like limited availability and sharing of government data, measures that can support smart city solutions. Capacity building remains a big hurdle due to change-averse mindsets and a dearth of technical training and a lack of skill-building.
"Additionally, co-ordination among various stakeholders is hindered by the presence of multiple government bodies that have overlapping jurisdictions, programmes and resources," Mr Nair says.
Moreover, JLL says special purpose vehicle (SPV) created to "plan, appraise, approve, release funds, implement, manage, operate, monitor and evaluate the smart city development projects" is often at odds to the local government, leading to poor governance, significant tension at ground level and hampering implementation.
"Hence, better co-ordination among all stakeholders will ensure that funds are properly used to get projects off the ground," Mr Nair says adding a collaborative approach will help the mission in India.
"Our research shows that real estate is a crucial element in the future of smart cities and our clients are asking us how they can ensure the buildings they occupy or invest in are future-ready. Here, government bodies and the private sector, which represent a diverse set of teams, can collaborate and address the challenges in a meaningful manner," Mr Nair added.