There are more than 2.5 lakh users of the free WiFi per month in Jaipur
Jaipur's heritage character is acquiring a new identity. The city has made it to the list of top six smart cities in the world. There were 600 entries from 123 countries and Jaipur is the only Indian city to make the cut.
The Smart City Expo World Congress held in Spain's Barcelona each year is the top smart city event which sees an interaction for city administrators from all over the world. This year, 20 delegates from different cities in India will also participate in the event and the Ministry of Urban Development will host an India pavilion.
While, Jaipur may have made the cut but has it made any difference for ordinary citizens? Most certainly, says Jaipur Development Authority Commissioner Vaibhav Galariya.
"We have 50 free WiFi hotspots in the city. We also have a smart Jaipur app which gives multiple information to people," he said.
There are more than 2.5 lakh users of the WiFi per month and more than 9,000 users per day of the information kiosks set up at 32 popular points in in the city.
From booking bus and railway tickets online to information on shops, restaurants, hospitals, the information kiosks are quite popular in a city that sees 40 million tourists visit it each year.
"Its quite multi-purpose, we have figured out where to eat after we finish with Albert hall. It also suggests some places close by and its quite interesting you can even recharge your mobile through these kiosks," said Suchit, a tourist from Maharashtra, visiting Albert hall.
The other aspect of Jaipur's smart city intervention is the smart Jaipur App. It can help Jaipurites track how much parking space is available in popular areas, whether the street lights working in neighbourhood and what are the pollution levels like the city.
"On a busy weekend instead of driving around in circles and looking for parking, it may be a good idea to check out the Jaipur app, see what is available in terms of parking and take a cab instead," said Devesh Gupta, nodal officer of the Jaipur smart city project.
But not everybody is convinced that digital interventions are addressing citizen's woes. Garbage overflowing on the streets of Jaipur and no door to door garbage collection has been a common complaint in the city. For a city so popular with tourists Jaipur has fared badly on the cleanliness index. The city stands at 215 among 434 cities ranked across the country this year.
"The biggest challenge for Jaipur is cleanliness. So many initiatives to keep the city clean and such poor implementation. Whats the point of smart city?" asked Ram Avtar, a resident.
However, in the future there may just be a smart move to stop garbage from overflowing. Smart dustbins with sensors attached that warn civic authorities as they start overflowing. But for starters, these are installed in only 15 points in the city on an experimental basis.