SATISH JADHAV, Director IoT, Embedded Sales Group at Intel India has a job selling imminence to cities and mega corporations in a world being increasingly linked by devices. 25 billion of them will be connected by 2020, estimates Gartner. Intel’s work with Daikin, the Japanese air conditioner manufacturer, to capture information of HVAC systems on the cloud and predict the problem with machines across a city, is already a global experiment. The integrated solution to manage buildings better is something that could help Indian businesses and Intel is clearly betting big on the country. After all, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the stuff that foretells the future. Vishal Krishna spoke to Jadhav to get his views on the fascinating universe he navigates.Vishal Krishna: How would you place IoT in a smart city context?Satish Jadhav: To me it is evolving around four major pillars: environmental, human, economic and that of social impact. For example, a new trend built around wearables connects devices to the cloud and maps crucial parameters of your life. The data that is captured is important and we use it for our benefit, which in this case, is improving our health. So it is all about extracting relevant data from a particular system, machine, human body or connected devices across the city. Unless you have this ecosystem, the entire cycle of IoT will not become a reality.
VK: What challenges do you see in the wider use of the Internet of Things (IoT) for smarter cities?SJ: The cloud has solved storage challenges and bandwidth impediments will soon go away too. This is where computing becomes crucial. For example, today you have street lights that have integrated cameras that double as a surveillance system but the last thing you want is a surveillance system sending images back to a legacy datacentre. What if the power of the cloud and the power to compute together crunched data to understand events and immediately converted them into action? That is the intelligence of IoT working in a smart city. Today when we are talking about making infrastructure smarter, there must be ways and means to make legacy systems intelligent as well. That is the first challenge.
The second challenge is going to be interoperability. When you are talking about creating the system of systems, how will multiple things work together? A traffic signal has to work as well with the school information system, with the datacentre at the backend, as with cars or a fleet of them. This is interoperability. The third most important challenge is of data management. It will be crucial to figure out how to secure data points to best protect consumer interest.
VK: How do you envisage different players coming together to harness the power of IoT? SJ: I do not think there is any one company that can go it alone to realise the potential of IoT. To take the earlier example forward, the same traffic signal would need technology-building-block providers like Intel for the gateway box, who would provide the server and datacentres; service providers for the software; someone for applications; and other software vendors who would actually deploy this for a city’s municipal bodies. Then there would be analytics teams to manage the traffic and other data related to real-time prediction of crime and other things. Our intent is to ease deployment. Crucial to the entire ecosystem is the system integrator to pull all the separate building blocks together and boost them up as an end-to-end solution to develop applications and drive services.
VK: Can the government build market places on top of IoT platforms? SJ: Absolutely. Both individuals and startups can use Intel’s architecture to create building blocks for smart cities and develop their apps and host them in the cloud in the form of different services. In Karnataka, the computerisation of the Public Distribution System (PDS), a new model that is already live, provides a combination of electronic weighing scales plus a point of sale terminal. It is biometrics-enabled and backed with Aadhaar data on the backend server. With the help of real-time information provided by the server, it helps beneficiaries get what they need, while providing them with terms of entitlement in their local language. The government is trying to drive efficiency and make it user-friendly, while ensuring accountability. In Karnataka we already have around 7,000 connected PDS systems installed.
Transportation is another area where IoT and smart cities converge. Connected cars and fleet management are evolving in a big way to build services in the cloud. We have a working proof of concept under field trials. We are trying to use data from sensors in cars, which can provide driving patterns of individuals. If it shows a harsh use of brakes, for example, the fleet company can use both real-time and historical data to predict whether there is a problem with the road or if the driving itself is rash.
The government should also use data to make cities smarter. Access to sensor data of, say, vehicles or street lights can predict their failure; track transactions like bus ticket sales; monitor public safety and make responses more proactive. I think it is all about the right vision of services for consumers. There are enough stakeholders in the ecosystem to get things done.
VK: Who is going to fund India’s smart cities? SJ: There are various ways, via either the government or system integrators. Take the bus example. If there is a device inside a bus for navigation, tracking, infotainment and surveillance, this gives access to the telematics unit to track the bus. You can run advertisements, for example, to make it a revenue generating stream. It creates a revenue model that can be shared with, say, the local transport authority. This would not depend on the budget the transport authority has, but on how it wants to drive an end-to-end solution. It is all about the evolving business models. That is why public private partnerships are important. If you show a business model to an SI and if they see a return on investment, albeit for something that is scalable and replicable, investments will come. In IOT the biggest challenge in the next five years will be to set up all these working models.