From a Smart City to a Sustainable City? 

                       First Published on RESURJ , 13th Feb 2018 as part of Reflections.

City’s governing body’s plans are used to shape the work and infrastructure in the city over a period of time. When Bangalore Development Authority released the master plan for 2031, at Hidden Pockets Collective we saw this as an opportunity to look at the gendered needs in the city and highlight the same. As any new developing city, it had all the proponents of development. It had allocation for industries, it had allocation for roads, and it very much was based on a design of a concrete city. What seriously affected us was the lack of imagination employed by the urban designers in including vision of a young women living in this city?

Smart City has been one of the key visions of the present government which has allocated resources for designing 100 smart cities by the end of 2020. Several cities have been submitting proposals to be accepted by the government. Some of the features smart city mission are access to the open spaces, walkable localities and strong emphasis on tech based solutions.

There is a lack of gender lens employed in the smart city solutions, not reflecting the lived experiences of people from the marginalised communities living in these smart cities. For example, in Bangalore- The IT Capital of India, the latest Draft solution by the governing authority emphasised  more on developing lands for industries and technology, than concerns of women, persons from disabled community, migrant community, children and old persons.

This silence over including experiences of citizens in the draft model of smart cities results in lopsided development. As part of allocating resources, there was nothing mentioned about street lighting on the streets or footpaths for pedestrians to walk. There are so many cases of harassment in specific dense areas but this has not resulted in any allocation of resources concerning safety for people of different genders in these specific areas.

Cities are the future blocks of the sustainable economy and members states of international community have come to accept this in the form of Sustainable Development goals (SDG). SDG11 discusses about sustainable cities with a transformative agenda that believes everyone must have a dignified life and create preconditions that allow people to grow and flourish.Some of the targets of Goal 11 clearly provides for  accessible transportation and green and safe public spaces. which can be used by people with disabilities, older people,  women children.

Indian cities need to re-look at the some of these targets and have to understand the value of making sustainable cities over smart cities. Cities cant exist in vacuum and not including concerns of its citizens, further make the citizens of these cities prone to various harm in the future. The cities have to see value in making inclusive cities which are made sustainable using the right amount of balance of information from both the technology and its living beings.

 

Image Credit : Jasmine Lovely George

Unleash Lab 2017, Denmark : SDGs

August 2017, Hidden Pockets got selected to be a part of Unleash Lab 2017 in Denmark. A nine days event where Unleash focused on 7 themes which are directly linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The themes were Food, Health, Water, Energy, Education, Sustainable Cities and Communities and Consumption and Production. So what was UNLEASH model ? UNLEASH brought 1000 talents together and converted their ideas into 200 business cases for sustainable development, collaborating with companies, academia and civil society.

 

Health 

Hidden Pockets represented Health. Talents under Health were further divided into sub themes; Access, Disability, Education, Mother and families and Mental health. Under Health we worked on access to Health. Under the sub themes we were asked to work with small groups on different topics related to access to health. Finally groups were created under access sub theme. Access to Finance, Early detection of Preeclampsia, Connecting the service providers and the Medicine suppliers. I worked on Maternal Deaths – Early detection of Preeclampsia. It was a great experience to work with people from different back grounds. The team had a mix of people from academia, a person from NGO, practitioner and a designer. My team members were

– Yvonne Mburu (Kenya), a scientist and healthcare consultant with over 10 years of experience in cancer immunology.
– Anne Vaandrager (Netherlands), a Design Activist. Her work is based on in-depth research that focuses on social shortcomings and inequalities in society.
– John Kigaru (Kenya), a Nurse Practitioner. He is the CEO and Co-founder of PregMum limited ,which has partnered with Strathmore University to develop Health-Tech solutions to improve early detection and response to obstetric emergencies at the grassroots level in Kenya.
– Olivia Curl (United States), founder of GIRLWITHABOOK Movement, a non-profit media organization that advocates for girls’ education and gender equality. She has worked in community-level reproductive healthcare and is particularly interested in the relationship between reproductive rights, education, and gender equality.

Pilot Project: 

The project is called SheTHRIVES. It a simple, effective screening tool to identify pregnant women at risk for eclampsia and pre-eclampsia. We selected Mukuru Slum in Nairobi, Kenya as a pilot case study for testing and initial implementation. The women in this area are at a great risk of maternal death from pre-eclampsia, due to a lack of preventative screening measures. So we created SheTHRIVES which is a 3-piece pre-eclampsia screening kit with digital blood pressure cuff, urine dipstick test, and simple digital interface which would be used by the community and student volunteers at the local church to detect early signs of pre-eclampsia among the pregnant women.

Unleash Lab 2017 was an amazing experience. We learnt how to work in a team, with people from different background, different culture, different style.
We learnt a lot about each others culture. We learnt how a particular idea might work in a particular region but might not work in a different region. We had to understand the culture of different regions and community. Unleash helped us in understanding the community better. It also helped many of us who are running our small startups to understand how a proposal is made, what is the investor looking for and what all to keep in mind while framing a proposal.

All the SDGs are interconnected to each other. One cannot work on one SGD by ignoring the other. All should be moving forward together. And that is what Unleash Lab 2017 taught us, “How to move together”.