India may be a global tech hub, but its cities fare poorer than even their Latin American and African counterparts when it comes to adoption of technology for smart cities, according to a new McKinsey report.

McKinsey Global Institute, the consultancy’s research arm, measured “smartness” by the adoption levels of technology-led infrastructure, the availability of smart applications and urban residents’ embracing of offerings ranging from real-time public transit information and tele-medicine to air quality and green house emissions.

The 50 major cities around the world measured on their smart progress included three Indian cities in the report. With a maximum of 37 points for the strength of smart city technology base, Jaipur scored only 2.7 (lowest among the cities studied), Pune 6.4 (at par with Nairobi) and Mumbai 8.8, even below Cape Town, Mexico City and Tel Aviv.

While the government in 2015 launched its Smart Cities Mission to make 100 cities across the country citizen-friendly and sustainable, there is clearly still a long way to go.

The report said that in general, cities across North America, Europe, China, and East Asia have relatively strong tech bases, as do select cities in the Middle East. “But those in Latin America, Africa, and India lag behind, particularly in installing the sensor layer, the most capital-intensive element.”

Another crucial element for the success of any smart city is smart phone penetration. Smart phones are the keys to smart cities as they are an interface anyone can use to tap into instant information, the report said. Smart phone penetration in India is just about 33 per cent, way below the expected levels for smart cities.

“Four high-income cities are in countries where smart phone penetration exceeds 90 per cent, but seven low-income cities on our list are in countries where the penetration rate is 60 per cent or lower,” McKinsey said.

The report noted that Pune, where the smart cities mission was launched in 2015, still needs faster, more comprehensive, and more reliable communication networks and more smart meters. “Its overall roll out of applications is low relative to that of other global cities. But as an active participant in India’s national smart city mission since 2015, Pune has already made some impressive strides,” it said.

In addition to installing environmental sensors, the city is expanding the number and reach of smart applications run through its central command center, it added.

McKinsey said that along the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, Dholera is being billed as India’s first and largest smart, sustainable greenfield city. As it takes shape, digital fibre is being embedded into roads, and tens of thousands of sensors are being installed and connected with a central operations centre.

With smart infrastructure, integrated transit networks, and a new international airport and logistics hubs, Dholera is eventually meant to house a population of two million. The government is offering incentives to attract anchor industries, the report said.