‘Public Safety, Security is High Priority Focus Area for Smart Cities in India’
—Koichiro Koide MD, NEC India
With over two decades of sales and business operations experience at NEC, Koichiro Koide, Managing Director at NEC India, is responsible for strengthening and expanding NEC’s business capabilities in the India market. With his deep knowledge of international sales, he is currently leading the company in its next phase of development in India by leveraging NEC’s innovation capabilities and integration expertise in IT and networking technologies. Koide’s previous roles with NEC include Manager, Overseas Carrier Solutions Division for NEC Corporation. He joined the India team in 2009 as Group Manager, where he was responsible for overseeing international sales and operations for China and Asia Pacific. Koide has an invaluable understanding of the Indian business climate and plans to achieve greater presence for NEC in the expanding India market. In an email interview with Voice&Data, Koide elaborates about the company’s achievements and plans.
Voice&Data: What are NEC’s core objectives in India?
Koichiro Koide: NEC is a very unique company as it offers solutions for both the IT and the network sector. To explain further, our peers like IBM focuses on the IT sector while Ericsson focuses on the network sector; NEC’s uniqueness lies in the fact that we cater to both IT and network businesses. NEC is also known as the world’s No.1 in the Biometric solution provider. NEC’s business has been consistently growing in India and hence our core objective is to grow business areas in IT, Biometric, Public Safety, Retail and Carrier. Carrier and network businesses, globally, is the biggest contributor to NEC’s revenue including India. In India, we are going to focus more on public safety and retail side of the business for now as Indian economy is growing very fast. With the changing business and economic scenarios, Make in India and Smart cities mission, there is also a great opportunity for players like NEC.
Voice&Data: What is NEC’s focus on
Koichiro Koide: NEC provides multiple elements in the public safety and security areas like fingerprint and finger vein identification, FRS, video analytics and multiple biometrics. NEC, not only provides the software application of the technology in public safety domain but we also deeply involved in operations as well. The solutions offered by NEC can play critical role in making smart cities safer, in curbing the cybercrime and other theft through strategic use of its solutions.
While our focus is to offer the best of the solutions to enable public safety in India, we have limited resources, as 100 smart cities vision is itself a huge project. Therefore, based on the needs of an individual city, NEC collaborates as a solution provider with partners in some cities and in others NEC collaborates as a vendor where participate in the operations side of it.
Voice&Data: NEC has been propagating the ideas of smart cities being safer as the critical part of the development plan, what is the role NEC is playing in development of safe and smart cities?
Koichiro Koide: As I mentioned earlier, there are several elements to smart cities and hence the requirements differ too. Of the 100 smart city projects, we cannot participate and treat all of the cities equally. Based on the need of a city, NEC associates as equipment and application provider, which is then executed by our System Integrators (SIs) and partners. For others, for some cities NEC will have to become the equipment and application provider, and the project will be executed by different Sis, or partners. For some cities, NEC would like to participate in building the network and provides the solution as one of the operating partner with the Government.
Voice&Data: How important it is to develop smart and safe cities?
Koichiro Koide: Some consulting companies say that by 2025 – 600 million people will stay in the urban areas in India. So, as the population of India would rise and move to urban areas, we will have to start building the foundations from now on to be able to manage such a huge population shift that will lead to socio-economic issue if not managed well. The concept of smart and safe city and the use of effective solutions may reduce the same and help us and the government cope better with the ever growing population. Hence, in my opinion, it is important to build not just smart but safe cities as well.
Voice&Data: What are some of the safe and smart city initiatives that you are collaborating with the government on?
Koichiro Koide: NEC is working very closely with various states and cities as a part of its safe city initiatives in India. Last year, NEC participated in the safe city project for Surat city, Gujarat where we collaborated with the state government to offer FRS (Facial Recognition Solution) which is ranked No.1 in the world for Surat city police. FRS deployed at the city police is designed to help them curb crime and theft better in the city.
Apart from that, NEC signed MoU with APTS (Government of Andhra Pradesh) for Tirupati safe city project. We are finalizing the proposal of ideas for the same. We also collaborated with Keonics (Karnataka) for Safe and Smart City and Cybersecurity collaboration in Karnataka and pan-India.
So, of course, public safety and security is one of our priorities and focus in India. With few other cities, we are also working with partners for providing solution because as I mentioned NEC cannot cover all the 100 cities equally. For now, the target cities for NEC are in Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
Voice&Data: What solutions can make a smart city safer according to NEC? What are the key components?
Koichiro Koide: There are so many components to building a smart and safe city but one biggest point that NEC would like to highlight is the utilization of biometric solutions. By just providing CCTV cameras alone, one cannot ensure safety in a city. For example, if we set up 10,000 cameras in a city, it will become impossible to chase and monitor 10,000 cameras effectively at the same time manually. By aligning the same with the biometric analytics, we can reduce the response time and error and hence the response to a theft. So, that’s why facial recognition solution (FRS), fingerprint identification and video analytics become a critical element and the application to those solutions is also very important.
Voice&Data: Being a tech giant and having delivered successfully on smart city initiatives globally, how does NEC see things shaping up differently in India than other countries?
Koichiro Koide: As I mentioned earlier, by 2025, 600 million people will be living in urban India. That is an incredible figure and I believe that by 2025 India will become No.1 in terms of population. So, that is totally different environment from other countries. For example – Singapore is very advanced. They have a population of only 5.5 million so it is not difficult to manage as afe environment.
On the other hand, In India, 5 million is the population of mega cities alone like Delhi and Mumbai -- much bigger than the entire population of Singapore. So, India’s biggest challenge is to effectively manage the cities, its demand, environment and a huge population.
Voice&Data: What are the potential challenges in delivering to the vision of smart cities in India? What would NEC expect the Indian government to do to support this vision or in terms of guidelines?
Koichiro Koide: Biggest challenge for India is quite clear and that is the budget when it comes to delivering on smart cities. Hence, for India, priority is very important. It is important for the Government to decide on the priorities of each city.
Voice&Data: Can you please elaborate on the future plans of NEC in India and what are some of the sectors that you would like to focus on in the future?
Koichiro Koide: Apart from safe city initiatives, in the public safety domain, we would like to focus on cyber security. We have already started interacting with the Government and also few of our partners. The need for cyber security has increased day by day but Indian resources are not enough to cater to the growing need and the potential cyber threat. NEC has the capability to manage cyber security and counter measure related things and also we have the facilities and knowhow for capacity building and training programs. Hence we are focusing on it. The other part is retail as with India’s population, the purchasing power of the middle class has increased drastically and is much stronger today. The procurement and commercial business has become much bigger today with reference to India’s retail business scenario like e-commerce. If e-commerce business increases, the network and data centre requirement to manage the data also increases simultaneously. That becomes an opportunity for us. Big data analytics has also become a potential big business for us.
Voice&Data: What do you see as the four or five key trends in the years ahead, with regard to smart technologies and cities?
Koichiro Koide: We can see that everything has become mobile today and people have become cashless. In other countries like Japan the payment in cash is still major.
The younger generation does not like to use cash. They are either using the card or mobile for major payments. Such trends will also come to India and like e-commerce, delivery and one important aspect is visibility. We have also participated in BRT sectors providing automatic location identification system. For example, people waiting at the bus stop do not know what time exactly the bus would come. We will provide visibility so that people can identify better how long do they need to wait. Such visibility becomes mobility. Visibility in transportation and logistics can also become a trend in India.
Voice&Data: What are two or three key areas where technological interventions can help build cities safer?
Koichiro Koide: Of course, the city surveillance because many cities are already facing the security and criminal threats, so city surveillance is a very important aspect. Another important aspect is transport and traffic management. The third sector is the web as everything happens on the web today like e-governance projects, identification, personal information – all of it managed on the web. If the government can’t give proper protection, it becomes a big issue. That’s why cyber security becomes a big aspect.
Voice&Data: Any expectations from the upcoming budget?
Koichiro Koide: Of course, the investment in the public sector is highly expected but for India, I think GST introduction is quite important.
Voice&Data: Does NEC have any plans for investments in India?
Koichiro Koide: Of course, NEC already has few subsidiaries in India and nearly 3,000 employees that take care of the sales activity, development activity and manufacturing elsewhere. If NEC can get more business, of course we are ready to invest.