Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched a scheme inviting citizens to design public spaces in smart cities.

The ‘Make Your City Smart’ challenge will be hosted by the country’s national crowdsourcing platform. GovInsider spoke with Gaurav Dwivedi, CEO of MyGov, to find out more.

Residents can submit their designs for how a public park, street junction or road in their city should be redeveloped. There are 20 cities participating and each has picked a specific location that it wants to improve. “The contest is directed at a very particular area which the city has identified for redevelopment,” Dwivedi says.

Ideas can be submitted by anyone – residents, students or experts like town planners and architects, he says. The designs will be shortlisted by a panel formed by each city, and the best judged one will be implemented by the city.

Public participation has been a key pillar of India’s 100 Smart Cities mission from the start. Cities have been told that their plans must have “a fair amount of citizen participation”, he said. The MyGov platform has received over 2.5 million suggestions from citizens across cities so far.

“If citizens are involved right from the beginning in the process of formulating the plans, then there is a greater buy-in”, he says. Cities’ plans would also better reflect what its residents want.

Platform for smart city officials

Modi on Saturday launched a second MyGov scheme on smart cities. SmartNet is a platform for officials get more technical and in-depth ideas from other city officials and experts in urban development, Dwivedi says. “The experts would be able to provide specific solutions to issues that the city administrations face while implementing their plans.”

At the same time, SmartNet is meant to help officials learn lesson from what other cities have already done. “Every city when it tries to implement something, it doesn’t really need to reinvent the wheel,” he says.

Cities won’t look very smart if its residents are unhappy. India is making sure that citizens buy into its ambitious plans for 100 smart cities.

Image by McKay Savage, licensed under CC BY 2.0