Barco India: Strategizing to be Numero-Uno for Smart City Solutions

“Barco has a globally proven track record when it comes to smart city solutions and we are positioning ourselves as the ideal partner for the smart city projects. As the Centre moves to enhance the utilization of existing infrastructure, Barco is enabling real-time information sharing, analysis and responsiveness among varied stakeholders like individuals, corporates and public institutions”, says Rajiv Bhalla, Managing Director, Barco India, in conversation with Poulami Chakraborty of BW SmartCitiesWorld. Excerpts below:

Indian economy is riding high on Smart Cities Mission mandate of Government of India, with almost all key tech-service providers catering to the domain. Is Barco also working on the same lines to serve Smart Cities in India? Please elaborate.

India holds enormous potential for the deployment of smart city solutions and technologies, given the immense pressure on the existing infrastructure in developing cities. Information is one of the most important elements upon which the smart infrastructure will be formed. Therefore, it will be necessary to combine information from multiple sources and share them on a real-time basis with various stakeholders to ensure that smart cities function smoothly. Incorporation of seamless, real-time access to information can be managed through smart control room solutions. These control rooms will manage and streamline the huge amount of information that the smart cities will generate on a day-to-day basis and this is where Barco steps in. The interconnected infrastructure will also give critical processes, such as citizen security and healthcare, a tangible boost and make them more accessible to the end-user.

Barco has a globally proven track record when it comes to smart city solutions and we are positioning ourselves as the ideal partner for the smart city projects. As the Centre moves to enhance the utilization of existing infrastructure, Barco is enabling real-time information sharing, analysis and responsiveness among varied stakeholders like individuals, corporates and public institutions.

Will you share with us what are the key solutions that Barco India is working on or having with regards to Smart Cities in India?

The key to smart systems is information. The more data that is available, the better solutions can be created. However, an abundance of information can also be a challenge. If the information is available but you have no way of processing, it can be counterproductive. That is why data gathering, distribution and monitoring has become increasingly important.

The collected information needs to then be presented to the stakeholders in a smooth and clear way. This can be done using Barco’s wide range of video wall solutions that span every technology: LCD, LED rear projection, Laser rear-projection, and Direct View LED. Our products excel in reliability and image quality and have been used in several control rooms around the world. arco OpSpace, the first operator workspace solution tailored to the operator, enables more efficient workflow. The operator is able to access information from many disparate secure networks in one environment, spanning multiple displays on his desk.

Barco has helped set up `video walls’ in command and control centres to help manage macro surveillance by the officials and, has recently launched laser-lit rear-projection video walls, suited for 24x7 control rooms. Please elaborate to us in details about this specific solution and its utility in Indian smart cities? In which all state governments are this solution installed?

With more than 30 years of experience in control centre video walls, Barco is one of the few video wall suppliers of ALL display technologies (LCD, rear-projection and direct-view LED). Absolute 24/7 reliability, impeccable image quality from any operator position, and ease of use for everyone are just some of the aspects in our portfolio’s DNA. Our video walls optimise the smooth presentation of data and ensure reliability and longevity. Smart cities require connected technology and real-time information sharing and collation of the exhaustive amount of data being generated and our video walls are apt for these needs as it improves information visibility and decision-making.

We have recently expanded our Laser lit Rear Projection portfolio with products under our ”In Country For Country” initiative, where we domestically manufacture products targeted at the Indian landscape. This product redefines rear projection walls utilized in 24/7 control rooms. With a 70-inch full HD rear-projection cube, the product provides brightness levels of up to 920 cd/m2 and brilliant colours, bringing a better viewing experience to control rooms. The modular design of the product makes it easy to service or replace components on the ground and the dustproof design enables protection against dust, which further increases the lifetime of the projection engine. The product comes equipped with features such as an efficient cooling system which ensures longer laser lifetime, low noise and lightweight design. With a huge influx of smart cities and integrated control rooms becoming imperative, the product sees great potential in India from a technology point of view. 

In India, Barco Control Room solutions are used in several cities. As part of UP Dial 100 project, we have installed an advanced visualisation solution with 180 rear-projection cubes in multiple configurations at their Lucknow centre to enable faster, more accurate tracking and resolution of complaints, crimes, and queries. We also have an installation of 28 video wall cubes at Andhra Pradesh Real-Time Governance (RTG) Centre which is typically used during critical events and disaster management/relief.

What are the key solutions or projects that are in the pipeline of Barco India?

Barco is synonymous with ‘Innovation’, be it in terms of products, business models, or partnerships. 2020 is going to be an exciting year for Barco. We aim to become and be perceived as the partner of choice for networked visualization display for multiple applications, from control rooms in smart cities to projectors in the digital cinema industry and collaboration tools in the enterprise sector. We will also be strengthening our partnerships with industry players and the government whilst developing the ecosystem, in addition to fostering greater customer intimacy. We also plan to strengthen our distributor and partner network to exponentially enhance our footprint.

Specific to Barco’s focus on heritage sites will you elaborate to us on how the company has facilitated projection mapping at Akshardham Temple?

Following the government’s strong thrust on developing tourism in India, popular heritage sites and places of interest are using technology to engage audience and creating engaging multi-media stories and projections. Barco is facilitating this initiative and has already made strong inroads in the segment with various projection mapping projects. At the Swaminarayan Akshardham temple, our state-of-the-art UDX-4K 30000 Lumens laser phosphor projectors power the projection-mapping during the ‘Sahaj Anand’ water show. The show translates one of the oldest Hindu scriptures into a mesmerizing 24-minute show using high end projectors, water, music, special effects, live acting and animations. Apart from the projection mapping, two of Barco’s 60,000 Lumens true RGB Laser Projector XDL-4K60s are used in the edge blending mode to air the large format film “Neelkanth Yatra” at an indoor theatre on a giant screen of size 76ft x 57ft.

With the Digital India mandate set by the Government of India in 2015, how is the company contributing to the Indian economy by working towards the campaign? 

Barco India contributes towards the Digital India mandate through each of the verticals we cater to. We leverage data to better connect with the audience and drive insights that enable bright outcomes. We believe that connected devices help in better decision making, leading to smarter and safer cities. For instance, the incorporation of a control room makes a city function in a smarter manner as it ensures that data can be shared and analysed seamlessly, in real-time. 

Coming to healthcare, Barco’s offerings such as the nex-gen operating room video integration solution Nexxis and the skin-imaging solution Demetra harness data and technology to enable better diagnosis. In the enterprise segment, our innovative sharing solution ClickShare helps in reducing meeting room stress by avoiding technical snags that are common with the prevalent presentation technologies involving cables. Its wireless plug-and-play proposition allows any participant to share content on the central screen with a single click from any device – even personal laptops, smartphones, and tablets – without any hiccups. This not only increases meeting room productivity but also helps in avoiding the loss of revenue and reputation as a result of IT issues in the meeting room.

What are the key challenges that you face while working in the Indian market? How do you mitigate them?

The technological barrier in India and the efforts required to create and maintain a strong partner ecosystem are some of the key challenges we face in the country. Though one of the major exporters of skilled IT workforce, India is still comparatively lagging in technological awareness and penetration and we are working on combating that. 

Another challenge that we face in India is the price-sensitivity of the consumers. People sometimes compromise on quality for pricing. Some of the hospitals still use consumer-grade displays which affects the accuracy of diagnostics. Our strategy is to ensure providing the best facilities but customising solutions to address the value-conscious mindset in India. We have a strategy called 'In country, for country' , where we plan value engineering our products to cut down costs. We plan to bring in low-cost products wherein we can also eliminate our intermediaries to pass on the price benefit to the consumers.

With the Indian economy sliding to some extent at the moment, how is India placed in Barco global focus and way forward?

For Barco, India represents a huge growth opportunity, especially in technology-enabled sectors, given the large population as well as the under-penetration of consumer-oriented services. Despite the economic slowdown affecting the country, Barco is still positive on India’s potential, especially because the Government is proactively taking corrective policy measures in response to the global slowdown. On a company level, we see opportunities across Entertainment, Enterprise and Healthcare domains

There are certain sectors in India that are “Recession Proof” and Barco is fortunate to be addressing those sectors. With more citizens moving to urban areas, the government will continue to spend on creating smart infrastructure to accommodate the influx into towns and cities. Irrespective of the macro-economic conditions, our citizens will continue to go to hospitals to address health concerns and, given that Bollywood is a religion in India our citizens will continue to go to the movies for the entertainment. Improved healthcare coverage will also help increase lifespan.