Member organisations of the PLuS Alliance, including UNSW Sydney, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Pune Smart City Development Corporation, Limited (PSCDCL), to advance research, education and outreach projects that address pressing urbanisation challenges in one of the largest cities in India.
The agreement signifies the commitment of the PLuS Alliance – a partnership between Arizona State University (ASU), King’s College London (KCL) and UNSW – to collaborate on solving issues that Pune faces in becoming a smart city.
UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs provided the final sign-off on the agreement on the sidelines of an event at the 11th Annual Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) Summit in New Delhi. Alliance Presidents – Professor Michael Crow, President of ASU, and Professor Edward Byrne, KCL Principal and President – signed the MOU at the PLuS Alliance Governance Board meeting in Phoenix last month. Mr. Manojit Bose, Chief Knowledge Officer of Pune Smart City, represented PSCDCL in the meeting.
“Collaboration is key if we are to find effective solutions to the challenges of rapid urbanisation – and to the sustainable and inclusive development Pune Smart City Development Corporation aspires to,” Professor Jacobs said. “The PLuS Alliance is a rich source of the knowledge and the innovative thought that will be a powerful driver of these projects.”
Under the agreement, the PluS Alliance and PSCDCL will collaborate on activities including identifying specific research projects for future collaborations, designing networking events and education programs and securing business, government and industry sponsors on projects.
At the signing event, Professor Jacobs also announced that UNSW will award two PhD scholarships to help advance the principle of Pune as a living laboratory. The research will be led by Professor Christopher Pettit and Dr Simone Leao from UNSW Built Environment, as well as academics from partner institutions.
Circular economy solutions
The research will involve a focus on opportunities in a number of high-impact areas in discussions with the Pune Smart City, including:
- Geo-designing circular economy solutions in Pune, including the location of microfactories.
- Using products generated in microfactories to improve energy ratings in buildings.
The MOU came at the request of PSCDCL following a workshop by the PLuS Alliance Informed Urbanisation Group on Exploring Pune as a Living Lab – Digital City in July 2019. The workshop was co-delivered by the PSCDCL, a Special Purpose Vehicle set up by the Pune Municipal Corporation and Government of Maharashtra, to advance the development of Pune as a Smart City
Shri Kunal Kumar, Joint Secretary and Mission Director, Smart Cities Mission, Government of India, lauded the initiative and suggested that research on different facets of Smart Cities in terms of making them more effective is a great way to leverage on the extensive capabilities within the alliance of three of the top universities in the world.
Commenting on the development, Ms. Rubal Agarwal, Additional Municipal Commissioner and CEO, PSCDCL said: “The partnership of Pune Smart City with the renowned PLuS Alliance is a great opportunity for Pune to benefit from the depth of expertise which would become available in solving various challenges arising out of urbanization.”
The workshop objectives were to identify the critical urbanisation challenges facing the city and scope out opportunities for data-driven interventions from an interdisciplinary, cross-institutional research perspective to support the local government and stakeholders in creating a more liveable and resilient community.
Pune is the second-largest city in the Indian state of Maharashtra after Mumbai and is the ninth most populous city in the country, with an estimated population of 3.13 million. It is often considered the state’s cultural capital and is referred to as the “Oxford of the East” due to the presence of several well-known educational institutions.