‘One of the biggest challenges is absence of integrated approach’
—Purushottam Kaushik MD, Sales, Growth Verticals, Cisco India & SAARC
Voice&Data: What’s the current status of your involvement in India’s smart city project?
Purushottam Kaushik: So, the 100 smart cities vision of the government is in the progress, but even ahead of this broad vision for India our engagements in the context have already been there in many cities, and quite a few of these were on the safety and surveillance side. As far as the 100 smart cities program is concerned, we are working across many states, working to help them in terms of technology. Cisco has basically worked across over 90 cities across various use cases, some of them in multiple scenarios. For example in Barcelona, Cisco has multiple use cases in the city. So, in India we are working with Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. There are also quite a few specific cities which have asked us for our guidance and we closely working with them in building their plans and considering that how we can help them from scratch, the type of technology innovation could be adopted and how it could be integrated to help them.
In fact, Cisco’s engagement has been beyond technology because we come with a lot of experience as well. It is not about building a network in the city, it is also looking at possibly integrating all the applications, which will be in the city. For example, building a safety surveillance network on its own by the police authority in the city is perhaps may not be the best leverage because the same network can be used for transport, waste management and even for wireless con-
nectivity in the city, along with lightning as well.
When we look at all these applications in silos, perhaps that’s not the right approach because when you are creating things in silos then you are going to create a layer of operations on top of it and then everything will never get leveraged as a smart city should. That’s one point that we always keep talking to them. The second thing is our partner ecosystem, we have partnerships with large organizations such as L&T, ILFS, so these are the companies that are into infra for quite a few years, and they are known as big giants in infra. So, we work closely with them and brief them about any other engagement and third will be our India development center, where along with our partners we have over 23,000 people working. Then, we have local innovation part also available, so whenever we need a solution which needs to be customized for India because everything that works globally cannot be implemented as such, that is something which we can certainly leverage at the India development center.
And the most important thing is the capital support side, so Cisco Capital, which is our own capital arm, and provides the credit lines for any such products. Besides, we invested in two local companies, which can help in the development of the ecosystem further for the smart cities.
Voice&Data: Please tell us something about the innovative products that have been customized for the India market.
Purushottam Kaushik: In cities, the critical requirement that is coming up surely is on the safety and surveillance side. India needs a lot of customization because the type of vehicular traffic or the requirements that we see on ground are very different from global markets. For example, in Navi Mumbai, we did a huge project for toll surveillance – where all the vehicles that enter & exit Mumbai have to be monitored. Now, if you have to do a toll in Indian scenario, there’s all kind of vehicles that will be coming in and there are multiple challenges in an Indian scenario.
So, there have to be solutions around transport fleet management and we are looking at Indianized ecosystem. Then, talking about the lighting situation, although there are millions of lights getting replaced by LEDs but it’s not happening in an organized way. So, just imagine if all the lights become connected and there is a centralized way to manage them, then I believe there would be about 30-35% savings on the lights.
Besides, we train our local partners and invest in local lab for further innovation so that they can execute, implement things with all our Indian expertise.
Voice&Data: Is there any global innovation that you want to highlight in this context?
Purushottam Kaushik: Globally, we are working in over 90 cities. Recently, a huge delegation visited Barcelona and a lot of cities’ leadership was present at Barcelona, where it was a big example that how an integrated approach across all the layers of the city, so that things are not done in silos, plus an effective leadership which needs to be in put in place to execute the smart city mission in critical.
We demonstrated there some smart parking solutions, smart transport solutions, we had very innovative waste management solutions and lighting and wi-fi integrated network. And everything was working in an integrated network, instead of separate layers. Plus, there was a centralized command and control, where everything was done at a central place.
So, for the many use cases we demonstrated in Barcelona the response was amazing. Now, we are trying to replicate that in Indian cities. In India, safety and surveillance is done in Navi Mumbai, where we are working with L&T, in Lucknow, we are working with the Mahindra group and in Jaipur, we have some use cases where we integrated some applications like wi-fi and safety and surveillance and environmental sensors and also we integrated the e-governance solutions.
Citizens’ engagement with the government becomes easy with the e-governance solution, and so there is a kiosk solution where people can go in, and it becomes a centralized point for accessing all the government solutions instead of visiting the government offices.
So, what you needed in these solutions is getting implemented in Jaipur and the phase-2 execution has also begun now. We can see 3-4 cities evincing interest in such solutions. Two cities have already moved on the RFP procurement and in Mumbai, we are the network partner.
Voice&Data: Which are the key challenges in turning an Indian city into a smart city?
Purushottam Kaushik: One of the biggest challenges we face is that there is no integrated approach, available in cities right now. In a city, there are multiple authorities there is the municipal corporation, the urban development body, police authority, among others. And these authorities have their own budgets, projects, rules, etc. For making a city smarter, one has to look at a completely integrated approach where ideally we can build a network across the city, and when all the input and output devices like handsets, cameras, other devices, which are basically disseminating the information by these devices, are integrated and can serve the needs of any or all devices. And there is a common command there, which is basically the city command center, where everything converges and the control center can be built up.
Now, that is one big challenge that we have been facing and we are working with the city and the state authorities that how can we converge these. In addition, instead of building them in silos, a lot of money could be saved and efforts could be saved. Coming to the leadership side, we can have a single leadership, which can take decisions and build the vision, and help in its implementation simultaneously.