Remarks by DCM MaryKay Carlson at the Smart Cities Workshop, December 8, 2016

Good morning.  Thank you to the organizers of this impressive workshop.  I know a lot of hard work went into putting together such a great lineup of events and speakers and I would like to particularly recognize

U.S. Trade and Development Agency

U.S. Department of Commerce

U.S.-India CEO Forum

U.S.-India Business Council

Confederation of Indian Industry

American Chamber of Commerce in India

and our Indian partners:

The Ministry of Urban Development

And the State Governments of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.

Today’s workshop is a very important outcome of several linkages between the United States and India on smart cities and infrastructure.  This topic is a key pillar in the U.S-India CEO Forum discussions and as one of our bilateral “work streams” in the government-to-government Strategic and Commercial Dialogue.  The U.S. Trade and Development Agency has been driving smart city engagements, and, again, we thank them for hosting this workshop.

Why India Needs Smart Cities

All of us have undoubtedly heard statistics related to India’s rapid urbanization – statistics like needing to essentially build a new Chicago in India every year from now through 2030; or that 300 million people will move from rural to urban areas over the next 15 years, which is roughly the entire population of the United States; or that the combined market potential for infrastructure in India is estimated to be $1.5 trillion.  Eventhough all of us here have heard these statistics and know the magnitude and dimensions of the problem, the real challenge is how to meet the challenge to plan strategically, collaborate effectively, and operationalize intently.

Today, we have gathered some of the most innovative and leading companies and decision-makers who are advancing smart cities projects around the globe.  You are the ones developing the technologies to solve real problems facing urban citizens – problems of public transportation, efficient communications, e-governance, and city infrastructure.

We also have here key decision-makers at all levels of government in India who have a vested interest in ensuring that world-class solutions can be – and are – applied in an appropriate and tailored way to meet the needs of this country’s urban population.

The roundtables planned throughout the day have been designed to provide you a forum for discussing what has worked, what can be adapted or replicated, and how best to incorporate this collective knowledge into India’s urban growth reality.

The day is largely intended to be interactive; there will be open time for questions and answers, opportunities to engage our panels of experts, and networking breaks and receptions to encourage follow-up discussion.  I mention this because we don’t intend for today to be just another smart city conclave to ruminate on the importance of the topic to India’s future urban landscape; rather, we intend it to be a practical workshop where all of us leave better informed, better connected, and better prepared to find real solutions.   I hope that you will take advantage of the expertise the organizers have brought together to make tangible progress in planning for India’s smart cities development.

Looking Back: We Have Made Significant Progress

To be sure, much has already been accomplished with our U.S.-India Smart City collaboration since it began in earnest back in 2014, when the Prime Minister invited us to be part of India’s Smart Cities directive.

We completed the first phase of Master Planning for the city of Vizag – a project led by a U.S. company with tremendous international experience, AECOM, and supported by its partners, KPMG and IBM – each global leaders in their respective fields.  The second phase is now underway, helping to define specific ways that Vizag’s citizens can benefit from improvements in water treatment, urban transport, energy, healthcare and education.

We also completed what we call a “Reverse Trade Mission” for officials from the state of Andhra Pradesh, who traveled to New York City, Washington DC, and San Francisco last February to meet with companies and policy-makers regarding sustainable urban development.  We plan to take a group from Rajasthan to the United States next month for a similar exchange, and will be focusing on UP in 2017.  This knowledge-sharing is critical – not just as an exploration of solutions that are available, but as a framework for understanding how to develop the right policy framework to incentivize and implement those solutions.

We have held a number of technical workshops over the last year in all three of our ‘partner cities’ to discuss, in detail, solutions for intelligent transport, water and wastewater, and smart power, among others.

Other sections of our Embassy, like our North India Office, have organized programming specifically directed at the Smart City work for our three cities.  U.S. experts with backgrounds in energy, air quality, and urban transportation meet regularly with government officials, business leaders, and academic institutions to create ‘linkages,’ and also to share best practices with these cities.

We have also worked collaboratively with a consortium of companies under the auspices of the American Chamber of Commerce and U.S.-India Business Council to ensure that our efforts showcase their competencies and bring best-in-class solutions to India’s rapidly expanding cities.  U.S. Companies like Cisco, CH2MHill, Honeywell, Hewlett Packard, Flour Daniels, and First Solar are all here.  They are active and invested in the market, eager to seize opportunities that combine real business prospects with initiatives that will ultimately improve the very places where they do business and enhance the lives of the people they employ and engage across the country.

As we look ahead to the new year, we know there will be transitions and adjustments.  I can say with conviction that our smart cities partnership with India will endure.  It will endure thanks to all of you and your commitment to building on the tremendous progress we have already made to help make India’s cities smart, efficient, and prepared for sustainable growth in the decades ahead.

Here is to a successful workshop and thank you for your continued dedication to this important program.