Sarbeswar Praharaj

Research Project Manager
City Planning, Smart Cities

PhD (UNSW), M.Tech. City Planning (CEPT), MSc. Geography (CU), BSc. Geography (CU)

+61 4 4957 2480

Sarbeswar Praharaj is an Urban Planner with a decade long experience of research in the interface of technology and urbanisation. He received his PhD at UNSW in the Smart Cities Research Cluster and Coordinates the “Australia-India Smart Cities Knowledge Exchange Network”. Sarbeswar also holds a Double Master’s Degree in City Planning and in Geography with Regional Planning specialisation.

Sarbeswar's research explores the dynamics of smart cities policy, business models and smart governance frameworks in Indian and Australian cities. He is testing the power of digital platforms to bring together local stakeholders for shaping collaborative urban development plans. Sarbeswar is an expert on city data analytics and geo-spatial modelling. He was instrumental in attracting research grant to UNSW from the Australia-India Council and Australia-Korea Foundation, DFAT Australia Government and has coordinated a series of workshops themed around smart cities in Sydney, Chennai, New Delhi and Pune. Sarbeswar is designated by UNSW in 2017 as a "Global Tech Fellow" to join the broader research network of the Global Alliance of Technological Universities.

Before joining UNSW, Sarbeswar was appointed as the Head of the Urban Planning Department and Consultancy Outreach Leader at LPU University, Punjab in India. He has also served as Project Manager at  the CEPT Research and Development Foundation, CEPT University in India. Sarbeswar has contributed towards completion of over 20 large scale urban planning projects, including master plans, environmental management plans, city sanitation plans, heritage development plans across cities in South Asia. He has consulted for prestigious clients such as The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Cities Alliance, the Global Land and Tools Network, Ministry of Urban Development- Government of India, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade- Australia Government etc.

Sarbeswar was a recipient of Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India and currently holds The University of New South Wales International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (TFS) for his doctoral research. Sarbeswar is a life member of the Institute of Town Planners India, Asian Cultural Landscape Association and the National Association of Geographers India.

ORCID iD icon0000-0002-7383-2751 |  Google Scholarjpil54cAAAAJ  |  Scopus57194554284


Research Activities: 

Sarbeswar's research covers four areas:

1. Smart cities and sustainability

Sarbeswar has extensively worked on smart cities policy, business case assessments with case studies from Europe, East Asia and South Asia. His research uncovers the diversity of smart city definitions, strategic approaches and implementation arrangements of smart city projects. He is keen to examine the investment models and public private partnerships in design and delivery of smart urban environments. He holds expertise in studying the linkages between smart cities and urban sustainability, with specific focus on the inclusive dimensions and social sustainability of neo-liberal developments.

2. Urban governance and digital citizen engagement

Sarbeswar's research emphasises the need for governance transformations in rapidly urbanising cities to address the challenges of siloed institutional environment and to make way for IT integration in urban service delivery. He has developed theories around typologies of smart cities governance with analysis of 12 smart cities across the globe. Sarbeswar is keen on investigating strategic urban institutional and policy reforms for supporting emerging digital revolution in cities. Sarbeswar takes great interest in examining the online interfaces for citizen engagement and the various factors that shape such healthy urban relationships.

3. Indicator based urban performance assessments

Sarbeswar is developing localised indicator system for assessing smart cities readiness in 100 selected cities across India. He enjoys knowledge of innovative statistical models to test various indicators, identify casualties among them that supports selection of independent criteria's for indexing. He is also developing visualizations and an online portal to disseminate the results of the assessments. This research will support the Government of India's Urban Livability assessment objectives announced in the year 2016.

4.Collaborative International learning approaches to future city planning

Sarbeswar is currently collaborating with a group of international scholars to identify commonalities in smart cities planning, innovation district concepts and smart technology applications across cities in EU, India and Australia. He is dedicated towards building stronger urban knowledge and technology exchange networks between Australia and India. To realise the objective, he has set up the Australia India Smart Cities Knowledge Exchange Network which was funded by the Australia India Council in 2016. He would be keen to hear from partners who takes interest in such exchanges.



2016 - A Knowledge Exchange Network for Australian and Indian Smart Cities - Australia-India Council, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government

2017 - Making Cities Safer for Women and Children with Smart Technology, Australia-Korea Foundation, Australian Government


1. The University of New South Wales International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (TFS) for doctoral research.

2. UNSW  designated "Global Tech Fellow" 2017 to join the broader research network of the Global Alliance of Technological Universities.

3. PhD Publication Award 2019 from the Faculty of Built Environment UNSW 

3. Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India.


Teaching & Supervision: 

Urban Landscape and Heritage - UDES0009

Planning Techniques and Analysis - PLAN1006

Design Project Management: Vision to Reality - BEIL0008

Book Chapters

Praharaj S, 2020, 'Development Challenges for Big Data Command and Control Centres for Smart Cities in India', in Biloria N (ed.), Data-driven Multivalence in the Built Environment, Springer, Cham, pp. 75-90, 10.1007/978-3-030-12180-8_4

Praharaj S; Han JH; Hawken S, 2018, 'Evolving a Locally Appropriate Indicator System for Benchmarking Sustainable Smart Cities in India', in World Sustainability Series, pp. 253-274, 10.1007/978-3-319-73293-0_15

Journal articles

Praharaj S; Han H, 2019, 'Building a typology of the 100 smart cities in India', Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, vol. 8, pp. 400-414, 10.1108/SASBE-04-2019-0056

Praharaj S; Han H, 2019, 'Cutting through the clutter of smart city definitions: A reading into the smart city perceptions in India', City, Culture and Society, vol. 18, 10.1016/j.ccs.2019.05.005

Praharaj S; Han JH; Hawken S, 2018, 'Towards the right model of smart city governance in India', International Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning, vol. 13, pp. 171-186, 10.2495/SDP-V13-N2-171-186

Praharaj S; Han JH; Hawken S, 2018, 'Urban innovation through policy integration: Critical perspectives from 100 smart cities mission in India', City, Culture and Society, vol. 12, pp. 35-43, 10.1016/j.ccs.2017.06.004

Hawken SG; Praharaj S, 2016, 'Leaders in Thought: Driving Urban Innovation', Australia and New Zealand Property Journal, vol. March Vol 5, pp. 254-255,

Praharaj S; Acharya S; Bandyopadhyay S, 2012, 'Carbon Intensive Urbanisation, Climate Variability and Urban Vulnerabilities in Hill Areas: A Case of Gangtok Urban Region, Sikkim', Journal of International Development and Cooperation, vol. 18, pp. 93-112, 10.15027/33191

Conference Papers

Praharaj S; Han JH; Hawken S, 2017, 'Innovative Civic Engagement and Digital Urban Infrastructure: Lessons from 100 Smart Cities Mission in India', in Procedia Engineering, pp. 1423-1432, 10.1016/j.proeng.2017.04.305

Praharaj S, 2014, 'Philosophies of Historic Spaces, its Traits, Congestion and Contestation: A Case of World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu', in Patel Y; Minyuku N; Der Bank C; Mohan K; Ogra A (eds.), Conference Proceedings: Planning Africa 2014 Making Great Places,, South African Planning Institute (SAPI), International Convention Centre (ICC), Durban, South Africa, pp. 545-557, presented at Planning Africa 2014- Making Great Places, International Convention Centre (ICC), Durban, South Africa, 19 - 22 October 2014,

Praharaj S, 2014, 'Rejuvenation of Water Bodies (Kunds) and Restoring Active Community Spaces in The Cultural Capital of India: Varanasi', in Bagha S; Singla A (eds.), Proceedings of the Neo-International Conference on Habitable Environments, White Falcon Publishing, Punjab, India, pp. 459-470, presented at Neo-International Conference on Habitable Environments, Punjab, India, 31 October - 02 November 2014, 10.13140/RG.2.1.4705.0326


Praharaj S; Hawken SG, 2018, A Knowledge Exchange Network for Australian and Indian Smart Cities, Smart Cities Research Cluster UNSW, Sydney, 10.26190/5cddf3e8d8eb5

Praharaj S; Shah J; Ghosh D; Ray S; Singh P; Godha K, 2013, Knowledge Needs Assessment Study: Synthesis Report, National Institute of Urban Affairs, New Delhi, NIUA Research Study Series Number 124, 10.13140/RG.2.1.4379.7205