“Our goal is to establish ourselves as a solution provider in sync with time and we aim to achieve it soon.”

Working closely with the Government for improving the landscape of the cities, Signpost, an out of home advertising company pioneers in developing facilities for citizens such as Bus Q Shelters, toilets and smart pedestrian skywalks with escalators at zero cost to civic bodies. In an interview with Manali jaggi of BW SmartCities, Shripad Ashtekar, Managing Partner, Signpost India talks about the green initiatives of the company and its focus on technology when it comes to the company’s business approach.

Tell us about how are you helping the Government authorities achieve smart and sustainable cities?

We have been focusing on public convenience and utility driven mediums for last few years and the Smart City initiative is taking these much-needed public oriented mediums to many cities which was earlier confined to top cities only. Mediums like public toilets, foot over bridges, direction boards are basic hygiene for a city that ensures cleanliness and road safety. 

What all initiatives are you undertaking to enhance the landscape of Indian cities?

Apart from investing in public utilities and street furniture, we are bringing a green initiative where bicycles will be introduced in many cities as an alternate mode of conveyance for shorter distances. This will help in reducing pollution and a healthy way of commuting will be added to citizens’ life in the cities.

How many cities have you partnered with regarding the same?

We are trying to be a part of smart city initiative in as many cities as possible simply because we strongly believe that a media created for public convenience is going to be the way forward.

Tell us more about your new public service initiative- I Love Cycling? How many cities have you floated this initiative in? Tell us more about the concept of dock less bicycle sharing. How can short distance and last mile connectivity issues be solved by this?

We have done pilot projects in two cities. Before going to other cities, we want to further fine-tune the app that is going to be used for complete automated ride experience with all security checks in place. The stands are being erected at strategic locations so that people save on time in covering short distances. 

Given the condition of our roads and road safety issues and given the number of accidents on a rise in India, do you think bicycles are a safe mode of transport? And Government also needs to intervene and ensure dedicated lanes for bicycle commuters? (Given only 5 per cent of Indian roads are cycle friendly)?

Your concerns are genuine, and we are hopeful that smart city plan will address this issue in more than 100 cities chosen in the first list. In our discussion with various municipal corporations and development authorities, we have been given to understand that dedicated bicycle lanes are being discussed and very soon will be implemented.

Sustainability off late has been a big thrust for the Indian Government especially for its Smart Cities Mission, how big do you stress on endurance and sustainability when you work on projects?

Endurance and sustainability are very important to make a project viable for interested partners. A longer period is required for amortising the investment and earn enough to be able to take care of running / maintain expenses. 

Are you collaborating with any of the cities under the Smart Cities Mission?

Discussions are on at various levels and we intend to partner in these projects with as many cities as possible. 

How do you see the ride ahead? What kind of growth numbers are looking forward at clocking this year? What targets do you envision for the next 5 years?

We are futuristic in our business approach. Our focus has been on digitization of media where one gets more than a static display and we implemented that in Kolkata airport where 60 per cent of inventory is digital. We are working on a technology that will make some of these mediums interactive. There are some more initiatives that we are working on and introduce soon. Our goal is to establish ourselves as a solution provider who is in sync with time and we aim to achieve it soon.