Decoding digitalization of urban governance in India: policy, people and processes of the smart cities mission and national urban digital mission

The presence of digital technology within urban governance in India is not new. Computerization and the use of enterprise software was encouraged in municipalities through the 1990s, followed by varied e-governance reforms in the early 2000s. These ranged from centralized policies like the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), to projects such as the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), and city and state initiatives such as online billing and certification services for citizens and GIS platforms for administrators. The Smart Cities Mission (SCM) launched in 2015, gave a substantial and centralized push for digital interventions by choosing 100 cities to create “smart solutions” for urban governance, planning, and digital infrastructures. These were seen as “lighthouse” cities, expected to create technology-centric solutions that could be emulated by other cities in the mission.