“IoT, ML and AI are the key technology drivers that can help achieve India's dream of becoming fully digital.”

The Internet of Things (IoT), a key driver of smart cities is championing the unison of machines/things, people, volumes of data and processes worldwide in order to build cities that are efficient, economically viable and people friendly. WebNMS IoT, a division of Zoho Corporation is one such integrated IoT platform with multiple capabilities that cover energy management, remote site monitoring and vehicle tracking. In an interview with Manali Jaggi of BW SmartCities, Karen Ravindranath, Program Head- WebNMS IOT talks about what the cities of today need in terms of systems and bringing about a connected digital transformation through IoT implementations.

How can technology be leveraged and contribute to India's larger digital vision?

Data driven insights, internet technology and ubiquitous mobile computing are transforming the tech landscape in India. According to a 2018 KPMG trends report, 'internet' will be the predominant factor affecting digital transformation in India. It would be the foundation, collating multiple stakeholders, right from governing bodies to large business chains operating across the country and outside of it. Technology forms the fulcrum of various disjoined entities in a country and by leveraging technology, data from those entities can be organized in such a way that could improve the lives of citizens, enhance governance, improve productivity for businesses and upgrade overall status of a nation. IoT, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are the key technology drivers that can help achieve India's dream of becoming fully digital.

How can IoT solutions ensure clean and sustainable cities in India?

IoT facilitates implementation of solutions that help achieve clean, intelligent and connected cities across the country. With the growing size and population of cities, sustainability is a key concern. IoT-powered connected solutions like smart solid waste management, smart water management, smart grids and smart energy management help achieve sustainability in city operations while making the cities cleaner, safer and smarter for the citizens. 

IoT would be vital for steering smart solid waste management solutions. For instance, Indian Government's Swatch Bharat can be achieved through smart and intelligent waste management and disposal that involves timely clearing of garbage bins, tracking of waste disposal fleet and monitoring disposal to ensure cleaner and responsible environmental practices. The entire process can be simplified and monitored in real-time by implementing intelligent IoT solutions. IoT based Smart water management can help curtail wastage, improve quality of drinking water and monitor and manage usage based on trend reports and forecasts. 

Cities across the globe are proactively minimizing energy consumption through smart resource utilization and intelligent operations. IoT plays a pivotal role in creating cleaner and sustainable environment through continuous monitoring and management. Smart grids and smart renewable and non - renewable energy management solutions have already become a vital part of energy sector in most parts of the country.  

IoT based solutions can help buildings get LEED certified and become green buildings. By implementing continuous real-time monitoring and tracking of assets and building operations, it is possible to save up to 30 per cent – 40 per cent of energy wastage on an average. This gives a fair idea of how IoT could help India establish clean and sustainable cities. 

How is WebNMS tailoring IoT solutions to align with India's smart cities and Digital initiatives? What kind of expertise do you bring to the table?

WebNMS offers an integrated IoT platform with multiple capabilities that cover energy management, remote site monitoring and vehicle tracking. These are the crucial capabilities that form the basis for engineering solutions for smart cities. Besides, the platform offers centralized monitoring and control, capable of managing sundry operations and sites from a single Integrated Command Control Center, a feature crucial for managing a vast portfolio of operations. WebNMS IoT platform also focuses on security from data acquisition, data storage and visualization ensuring highest levels of data security.

Smart city solution providers and consultants are looking for an IoT platform that is capable of retrofit and upgrades, robust and scalable at large. A lot of R&D and time has gone into building the highly robust and scalable WebNMS IoT platform from ground up. It comes with the sophistication to accommodate a wide range of sensors and connectivity options suited for scaling wide range of smart city projects.

Have you partnered with Government under its Smart Cities Mission? If yes, then how many cities are working with?

WebNMS works with a couple of System Integrators who are actively involved in a couple of smart city initiatives in India. We have already implemented 'Smart Lighting' solution along with a partner of ours in the Middle East at a large scale. We are also involved in some of India's smart city forums and consortiums in collaboration with our partners.

How can design and technology enable sustainability for smart cities?

Technology is the key ingredient to the smart city ensemble. IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are the key industry disruptors that can help governing bodies achieve digital and smart city goals. A robust smart city platform ingests and unifies data providing a data orchestration layer driving multiple smart city elements - Connected services for citizens, data driven insights and forecasts and actionable intelligence for running smooth and efficient cities. It also enables sustainability by empowering citizen involvement, creating newer revenue streams and monetizing data wealth of the city.

How IoT solutions can help optimize residents’ quality of life by leveraging technology?

Consider on-demand commuting services for citizens. Just like how private market disrupting services like Uber and Ola have capitalized on internet and mobile technology to offer consumers with seamless travel on -demand, governments can integrate IoT to track vehicles and offer citizens with city commute on demand. 

Similarly governments can empower citizens by leveraging data and help people take informed decisions. Safety is another paramount factor that could be resolved with IoT. With continuous monitoring and readily available information, complex city systems can be managed in real-time and along with city security integration, to minimize unintended consequences.

Smart city deployments enhance valuable natural resource utilization and enable cleaner and greener environment initiatives and upgrade the lives of citizens and keep cities efficient, economically viable and sustainable.

How do you envision the future of technology in India? What kind of growth numbers are you aiming at in the next 5 years?

According to estimations by the McKinsey Global Institute, IoT will have a total economic impact of up to $11 trillion globally, by 2025. A major share of it will be accredited to smart city deployments across geographies. The global smart city market is moving towards various new avenues for enhancing lives of its patrons like smart healthcare, smart outdoor parking, smart people flow management, smart energy saving playgrounds, etc. India is not far behind. With Indian Government announcing 100 smart cities and allocating a budget of approximately $15billion, technology companies can now collaborate and assist in bringing the Government’s smart city vision to reality.