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ISRO chairman Alur Seelin Kiran Kumar. Image: ISRO.
Alur Seelin Kiran Kumar, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) delivered a talk on “New Business Models and the Art of What’s Possible” at CII Karnataka ICT Summit 2017. During the talk, Kumar explored the importance of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the current connected world, and how disruptive the technology will be in the future, according to a report in The Hindu Business Line. Kumar said “Today, IoT offers endless opportunities in the daily lives of many, by helping create more efficient cities and leaner enterprises. It is estimated that by 2020 there would be 50 billion IoT Sensors, and by 2030 over 200 billion.”
The Smart City initiative is a pet project of the current government. On the sidelines of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched India’s potential for investment in smart cities to Swedish Education Minister Anna Ekstrom. Considering moves by the telecom watchdog to support the deployment of public Wi-Fi hotspots, as well as the massive 4G rollout in 2016, India is poised to leapfrog into the next generation of the internet, with IoT and Smart Cities. However, there are some problems that need to be overcome.
The vast geography of the country, as well as the patchy connectivity in most places, together contribute to retarding the growth of smart cities in India. According to MediaTek’s Kuldeep Malik, India will take at least 10 years to see fruition in India. There is a lack of standardisation of the technology, government clearances are slow, the the conditions are breeding fragmentation. Malik says “Due to the advancements in technology, the industry is undergoing constant changes with newer technologies coming into the foray and hence the government needs to be on top of the game if they want to succeed.”
Malik believes that startups will play a key role in the development of smart cities, and that currently technology companies are offering their own solutions for specific requirements. Intel, IBM, Cisco, EMC and Oracle are all involved in separate smart city projects across the country. EMC is making hospitals smarter, and working in Telangana. Oracle is helping Maharashtra accelerate its smart city program. Cisco has announced plans to deploy its City Digital Platform in Hyderabad. IBM has transformed the mini township of Rashtrapati Bhavan with smart embedded devices and a centralised command centre. Intel is is implementing Wi-Fi, smart parking, air quality monitoring and smart lighting in the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai.
The smart cities program is an ongoing global effort to upgrade existing infrastructure with embedded devices. According to Gartner, 50 per cent of the citizens living in urban areas around the world will benefit from digital upgrades to cities by 2019. Gartner also notes that the lack of a holistic framework for smart cities, and the lack of a viable revenue model, are stalling the growth of smart cities in India.