Smart homes – an integral part of our future-ready smart cities – By Arun Kashikar

Urbanisation has long been perceived as a yardstick of development of a country. Development, rooted in the ethos of sustainability, is a prime aim of our country in the years to come. The smart cities mission, launched in 2015 by PM Narendra Modi, will look to develop 109 cities that are citizen-friendly, while being sustainable.

Historically, survival used to be the driving force for a citizen’s expectations from a city. However, these expectations have seen a paradigm shift to include various aspects such as remote-controlled features that boosts convenience and lifestyle indicators of a city. The concept of ‘smart’ must be blended in the soul of a smart city. Each building block should be placed with this concept at the heart of it, building blocks that lead to smart homes being created to fulfil the goal of a smart city.

The concept of energy-efficient, environmentally sustainable buildings are the need of the hour. An increasing number of people are moving into homes that helps uncomplicated their lives. State-of-the-art technologies and services are in demand, and the busy lifestyle of urban citizens has created a demand for integrated, smart homes that can be controlled remotely.

Smart homes must include home networking and monitoring systems. A link between systems and devices such as lighting, air conditioners, phones, security cameras, audio-video systems, computers and refrigerators are all essential features of a smart home. A number of innovations are being infused in building homes that are friendly for all age groups.

At the heart of it, security is one of the biggest reasons why smart homes are being demanded by buyers. Residents want to feel secure about their property, valuables and belongings that often have an intangible emotional connect with individuals. Projects are now installing cameras with smarter analytics, while being vandal proof with motion sensors. Thermal cameras with high definition motion sensors and facial recognition software helps aid residents keep their homes secure. Cameras are also connected to the internet, which allow residents to view their property from any place on this globe with the help of a simple login.

Smart homes also have the capability to reduce a carbon footprint of a property. Technologies that help conserve power through lighting, elevators and other common amenities help make a project environmentally sustainable, while helping residents save money. Other sustainable features in projects include rainwater harvesting systems, sewage treatment systems and organic waste convertors to help enable smart homes to be eco-friendly as well.

Remote controls enable a resident to securely use appliances at the switch of a button. Heaters, window shutters, curtains, besides lights and air conditioners can be controlled automatically in smart homes. Movement and presence detectors are also utilised to streamline energy consumptions and reduce electricity billing amounts in the long run. Television sets, laptops and even smartphones can have a centralised control over any devices in a home.

To add to the benefits of having a technologically enabled home is to also have elevated visitor management in the premises. Elevators can be controlled, while doors can be opened by providing access cards. All these features will constitute homes that are future ready in the smart cities we will set out to build in the near future. Modern home automations and smart, intelligent home systems will be at the heart of this to offer web based protocol that offers a future proof, scalable property as per the changing requirements of residents.

Smart cities need to be constituted of several self-sustained, automated mechanisms that push the boundaries of existing technologies available in cities and homes. We are at the cusp of implementing several technologies to make our cities smart, however, our homes must catch up and there are a number of projects that are making this dream become a reality.

Government policies are in place to ring in this revolution and the value that smart cities and homes can bring to our lives is intangible. From improving air quality, to reducing electricity bills and helping create an ecosystem that’s easy on the environment are benefits that we cannot ignore. The concept of smart homes is not a fad and it will see an increasing prevalence as we achieve our goal to build over a 100 smart cities in the future.