Opinion

How smart cities can ensure its citizens stay healthy

A smart city should not only aim to provide smart healthcare solutions for its citizens but foster an ecosystem that curtails the growth of disease and nurtures a healthier way of life for its citizens.

Deepak Sahni
19th Feb 2019
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By definition, a smart city is an urban area that relies heavily on data to monitor and manage resources efficiently. The concept of smart cities assimilates information and communication technology (ICT) and internet of things (IoT) to ensure the efficacy of city operations. Smart city as a concept is gaining popularity because it promises to harness the potency of the available infrastructure and create new-age living practices to help its residents lead a better, happier life. 




Health is an indispensable part of smart living, and unless we improve the level of health conditions the dream of smart cities would remain incomplete.


A smart city should not only aim to provide smart healthcare solutions for its citizens but foster an ecosystem that curtails the growth of disease and nurtures a healthier way of life for its citizens. A holistic approach to healthcare is required where these cities just do not focus on sickness but the infrastructure promotes and encourages a preventive approach reducing the disease burden of an individual and of the country in the long run.


That being said, while several cities are on the way of becoming smart, it is important to realise the importance of promoting healthcare and wellness as part of the smart city plan. A smart city is only smart when it allows its citizens to adopt a healthy lifestyle; a city that supports an infrastructure that promotes adopting a healthier way of life. A place where residents follow healthy daily routines and this can only be achieved with purposeful planning. 


A few smart health goals for smart cities are:


Green options for commuting


With an increasing number of cars on roads, not only pollution, but traffic congestion is also a major urban problem. Longer the people stay on roads, longer is their exposure to harmful particles. Alternative methods such as cycling and walking are healthier and smarter way to reduce the burden of environmental pollution and also keep one healthy. In a city full of motor vehicles, however, people may be apprehensive of walking and cycling due to fear of road accidents. Thus, the role of dedicated tracks for cycling and walking come in to play. Tracks with a focus on last-mile connectivity should be a must part of city planning. Laying down broad roads is not enough. Connecting the entire city with cycling and walking corridors is important. This will not only help cut down on pollution but will also help people stay physically fit. Cycling to work and walking down to the grocery store will then become a daily ritual rather than a good-weather luxury. Additionally, a bicycle for rents is another idea that can help in achieving the smart city dream.


Monthly community health event


A day dedicated to preventive healthcare should be celebrated every month. We celebrate food fests, road shows, trade fairs, and auto-expo but ‘preventive healthcare day’ is never celebrated. An exclusive health exhibition catering to various health checks like dental, eye, blood tests, basic body screening should be planned all in one place. Corporate and residential population can combine and take initiative for organising a monthly health mela. Mobile health screening vans should be available to support this cause, enabling the elderly, pregnant women, and people suffering from chronic diseases to avail this facility at the comfort of their homes.


Promoting prevention – better sanitation and hygiene


A stitch in time saves nine. Prevention is any day better than cure. The smart city should cater to healthier alternative needs and provide better living standards. Prevention planning should include proper garbage disposal infrastructure instead of dumping them in landfills and water bodies. These dumping grounds act as the breeding niche for diseases. A smart city plan should resolve the problem of open drainage and waterlogging. Public toilets, just like public transport, should be well-maintained and be accessible to all.


Let us plan clean smart cities where its citizens can breathe, evolve and grow in healthy surroundings.


Promoting wellness by mandating a healthier lifestyle


An inclusive healthy lifestyle is a sure shot method of attaining wellness. The healthy city plan can only become a reality if the inhabitants imbibe the healthy lifestyle as a way of living. Smart cities should not only provide an infrastructure to promote healthier lifestyles but also spread the healthy word through technology and make their citizens an integral part of the plan. A green smart city is a healthy smart city, is a well smart city!


Convenient access to healthcare and preventive diagnostics


Through technology, it will be possible to make healthcare and preventive diagnostics accessible to every home. It will help improve the standard of health quotient of the smart city and achieve the overall goal of health and wellness. Healthcare should be just a few clicks away, making health facilities available to all. The aim is to provide healthier advancements to the smart city dwellers. After all, happy citizens make happier cities!


At-home healthcare for senior citizens and children


Busy schedules may prevent today’s millennials from keeping a regular check on their health and that of their parents or kids. With incidences of lifestyle-related diseases on the rise, one must be able to avail healthcare services in the comfort of their homes. Technology and innovation can enable at-home healthcare services, such as a smart healthcare network that includes monitoring devices coupled with a quick response team to tend to emergencies. The system is especially beneficial for the elderly and children at home. The monitoring devices should include reminders for medicines and doctor visits, provisions to maintain the medical history of patients and alarm-enabled sensors in case of emergencies. It not only ensures proper care but also reduces stress for the working population.


Rewarding healthier lifestyle choices


A smart city has to reward its citizens for choosing a healthier lifestyle in these troubled times. This could include innovative ideas like offering free Metro pass of a certain value, or a free ride for doing 30 sit-ups in front of a ticket vending machine. Each citizen should be made aware of their carbon footprint and be rewarded for reducing it on an individual level. Rewards could be in form of points that may be redeemed for free public transport and other government services.


We must not only evolve technologically but also environmentally. An increasing lifestyle disease burden is not a good sign for our health and future generations neither is rising pollution. Each person holds agency for a healthy and sustainable future, for which action needs to be taken now. A great man once said, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” It is the responsibility of our generation to make the earth a better place for our children so they can live a healthy and full life.


(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)




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