Internet of Things: Vision 2020

The promise of IoT is coming true.. today. Possibilities are expanding each day and on the ground traction is gathering force across domains. Challenges remain, but the wave is now unstoppable and has washed ashore already.

Having trained 1000+ professionals worldwide and being connected to more than 10K IoT enthusiasts, we have a very good pulse of ground ZERO as the technology happens. We recently conducted a webinar on how our future with ambient intelligence looks like and how embedded intelligence in our day to day THINGS will make them enchanted and magical.

From Things as a Service, to drone delivery, to wearable health care devices our world in 2020 and beyond will be much different from now. Technologies like invisible hardware, energy harvesting, machine learning and seamless communication will make the inanimate world around us alive like we ever imagined. Check out our webinar on the subject conducted for TechGig – our partner for creating largest IoT community in India and beyond.

Axelta is worlds largest and most coveted training and knowledge provider in the world. Our unique IoT training that embeds years of successful IoT product and solutions development learning is empowering IoT enthusiasts and companies get a huge jump start in their journey. Find out more about it and enroll IoT Bootcamps.

Beacon – The Path Breaking IoT Technology

Can you imagine how we lived when smart phones not existed? Isn’t it difficult? The world around us has been revolutionized by Technology & Innovations and it has completely changed our life and the way we do anything. The next and even bigger technological wave is Internet of Things which is more commonly called IoT.

The IoT Beacon is one of the path breaking technology standard that helps us locating a device/thing in a close proximity like inside a building. Saying that, now it’s possible to locate and find your watch /keys/wallet in your home if you forgot where you kept them. However, Beacon has much more broad and important use cases than this. It revolutionizing the retail industry with goods selling themselves and a better customer experiences. Use cases of Beacon ranges from Home Automation to Hospitals to Retail / Commercial Buildings and many more.

So, what make Beacons so useful?

Well, it’s the technology behind Beacon – which is BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) and the Backend Cloud Integration system. Find in this webinar video how Beacons work,  their evolution, big players behind Beacon and future opportunities.

We cover this and much more in our hugely popular IoT Bootcamps that are conducted online. Find out more about them at our site

You can also join our web forum “IoT Interest Group” to stay updated on Internet of Things. Join Here.

100 Smart Cities in India – Smart Utilities

In my previous post, we had discussed about a conceptual understanding of Smart City and its relevance from India context. Coincidentally, there was a a meet up organized by DevThon on the same subject this weekend. Though the participation was limited, I was excited to see that people are thinking beyond the hype of “technology” adoption to make cities smart and are actually talking about on the ground challenges and their solutions.

Given the fact that there is a serious gap between the basic necessities on electricity, hygiene and clean water in most of our cities, straight away going for a high technology solution for solving problems will not work. For example, it will not help to put thousands of sensors on the roads for capturing city information, if we are not sure how long those sensors will work and till the time, we have a robust ecosystem to maintain them and use the information from these sensors.

Its heartening to see that there is a group working on creating awareness on the different sources of information and city level grievance redressal agencies. Their approach to disseminate the information gathered through printed pamphlets is also taking into account that a large portion of the residents don’t have smart phones or access to internet.

Another interesting aspect that came out was that with such a high population density in a city like Hyderabad, a traditional approach of “smart city” will not work. Citizen participation and involvement in this exercise will be a key parameter. Building greater civic sense and a paradigm shift in how residents see their role in overall livability of the city and management will be the critical success factor for any initiative to be successful.

Though, this is not the theme of this blog, so lets get back to the next dimension of Smart Cities – Smart Utilities :)

There are two key areas of within utilities where there are significant challenges and scope to be made smarter for better results

Smart Grids

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 8.27.21 PM

India has one of the weakest electricity grids in the world. Being the 5th largest grid systems and having the dubious distinction of one of the highest distribution losses [24% average and in some states going up to 62%] the state utilities losses itself are 1.5% of the GDP.

Therefore there is a a huge opportunity of modernizing our grids and in the process making them smarter. There have been multiple initiatives in this direction for more than a decade and some states have made very good progress in that direction. What is needed is a multi year and multi pronged strategy that would involve not just modernization and using latest technologies but also improving the execution capabilities to drive such huge initiatives. This might also involve privatization of the utilities that are still under the control of states and driven more on political angle than efficiency and effectiveness.

Some of the key aspects of smart grids deployment and its relevance and initiatives in India are:

Priorities

Impact

Smart Grid Initiatives and Application

Meeting Demand Shortage
  • Augmentation of generation capacity; efficiency improvement
  • Power evacuation and grid access
  • Demand side management
  • Demand response
  • Peak load management
  • Crew management
Clean Energy Deployment
  • Require smarter systems for power balancing to deal with variability & unpredictability
  • Renewable energy integration
  • Demand response
Operational Efficiency Improvement
  • Need for ability to control and monitor power flow till customer level
  • Theft management
  • Asset monitoring
  • Meter data management
  • Substation automation
  • AMI
Enhancing Consumer Service Standards
  • Real time system to enable better system visibility and consumer participation
  • Power quality
  • Work force management
  • Outage management
  • Automatic Billing

Smart Water Management

 

Having access to clean and sufficient water is one of the major problems in a number of Indian cities. Lack of long term planning, distribution losses to the tune of 40% and above and red tape in state managed water utilities have lead to rapid depletion of ground water, which remains as a major mainstay of water supply in the cities. Lack of proper rain water harvesting and concretization of cities are further contributing to loss of this invaluable natural resource.

Smart Metering is an obvious and a proven solution that can bring in a significant discipline and accountability on water usage and management. Polluting and exploitation of existing water resources and water bodies is the other big challenge that the cities currently face and is having a large impact on the health of the residents. Innovative usage and deployment of Internet of Things for better monitoring and control for water and waste water management can provide significant help in meeting these objectives. Organizations like Aquamatix have done some very good research in this area and come up with end to end solutions that provide a holistic solution for smart water management.

There are many such application of Internet of Things in the utilities space that can be explored make Utilities and cities smarter. Signing off now, more about other Smart City dimensions like the following in my next blogs in the series.

  • Smart Buildings and Homes
  • Smart Transport
  • Smart Traffic Management
  • Smart Health
  • Smart Waste and Ecology Management

Axelta as an organization has been focusing on evangelizing adoption of Internet of Things in India and is working on a number of projects, community initiatives and competence development in collaboration with private and government educational institutions to help make the vision of 100 smart cities in India possible. Our IoT Academy that does a 2 days boot camp to equip social and technology entrepreneurs to understand and incubate ideas is also a step in the same direction.

 

100 Smart Cities in India

Smart City

We’ve recently heard our new PM, Mr Modi talk about 100 smart cities to be created in India and just recently CM for AP, Mr Naidu declaring that he would like to make 10 cities in AP as smart cities. We also heard that IT minister of Telangana would like to have free Wifi across Hyderabad.

Sharing my understanding of a smart city its impact to the denizens of any Indian city:

A smart city, at a philosophical level would mean an urban center that has been optimized and is self sustaining on these fronts

  • Human resources

  • Socio economic implications, welfare and inclusive development

  • Cultural

  • Financial capital and infrastructure

  • Natural resources and environment

 

To summarize, “Livability” of an urban center that is sustainable over a long period is what defines a true “Smart City”

There are many “policy” level implications to make it all possible though eGovernance and Internet of Things plays a very important role in making a city smart. World wide there have been a number of initiatives and organizations like IBM and CISCO are doing good research and a number of pilots in this area. Intel had recently started an initiative to make Dublin as first Internet of Things city.

Here, I have evaluated some of the critical applications of IoT from Indian city context.

Public Safety

This is one area where IoT and application of ICT [Information and Communication Technologies] can have maximum positive impact.

  • CCTVs at vulnerable and high density areas is something that a lot of Indian cities have now started implementing. Though, their effectiveness and upkeep is something that has a huge scope of improvement. Also, ability to monitor and analyze all the video data generated from these devices is a big question. This is where the latest development on big data analytics, motion analysis, facial recognition, etc can come have a positive impact.
  • There is a large amount of ground information that gets generated at individual police stations. This information if captured in a systematic manner, mined and processed along with police database on “bad” elements in a city, in a holistic manner can help in generating “predictive” analytics that can help predict and prevent a number of crimes. In the US, cities like Chicago and New York have been able to reduce crime rates by more than 30% through this. I understand that there a number of other things that need to be in place within the ecosystem to enable it. Though, if we have such a vision, this can also be an opportunity. As the information systems in these areas would and are going to get build from ground up.
  • Citizens of a city play a critical role on the safety standards that prevail in that city. We already see a vast contrast in different cities and states. Besides the governments in these cities and states, the residents awareness and willingness to participate in the governance and their own safety also plays an important part. Smart Buildings, GPS enabled Vehicles, Personal GPS trackers and many such IoT applications working in and integrated manner with a Smart City systems will help complete the circle. There is a good traction happening in this space in some Indian cities and shall pick up pace.

More about other aspects of Smart Cities in Indian context in my next blog posts:

  • Utilities like Energy and Water
  • Waste management
  • Traffic management and
  • Transportation
  • Health

Axelta as an organization has been focusing on evangelizing adoption of Internet of Things in India and is working on a number of projects, community initiatives and competence development in collaboration with private and government educational institutions to help make the vision of 100 smart cities in India possible. Our IoT Academy that does a 2 days boot camp to equip social and technology entrepreneurs to understand and incubate ideas is also a step in the same direction.

IOT start-up/Any startup: the prerequisite’s

The world has woken up to the tremendous potential of IOT devices. There are literary hundreds of start-ups springing around us across the world. Some will succeed, many will fail. What is it that start-ups in General and IOT start-ups in particular should focus on to succeed? This is a million dollar question. Let me try and answer some of the things I have learnt:

1. Focus on the business problem/Use case you are trying to address. Many start-ups start making a very specific product but somehow end up making a very generic product. They want to take care of all possible scenarios and cover everything. Especially start-ups making software products put in a lot of energy and time in making generic solutions. This path is fraught with danger of delays, overspending and many end up making a product which does not fit anywhere. My suggestion is focus on your use case. Bring clarity in it. Make your solution work covering 70% of the use case requirements. Launch it ASAP, learn from the feedback and improve. This is especially true for IOT where you have several companies making generic device management platforms, very few focussing on specific use cases. Number of such platforms that will finally win will be limited, but if your use case has specific relevance, it will win in that market.

2. Focus on technology but… Define the technology you are going to use as soon as possible and do not get carried away with recent advances. Many of the recent developments are not yet stable/usable enough to be good for you. A company can lose lots of valuable time in travelling on these new unchartered paths only to realise that the technology either does not meet their ultimate need or is not mature enough. Developers might lose lots of valuable time in learning these new technologies only to get disheartened and I have seen this leading to attrition etc. Let others use them first and then you can follow at a much faster pace. IN IOT space this is critical as so many new things are happening daily. Keeping the clutter out should be clearly high in your thought process. Get that device working first, fully and make it robust.

3. There is no such thing as stud.. As a start up, already lots of pressures are there to get a good team in place. What I have seen is, getting high end tech talent is extremely difficult and is generally not needed. Especially in IOT space, everything is so new, that getting excellent people in any area is difficult. My suggestion is hire good people who have the right attitude. For the electronics side (if you are into device building) you can get good electronics background people in India who have experience in working in those 100’s of electronics companies in that are cluttered around Govt undertakings like BEL, BHEL, DRDO etc. They are good and have manageable salaries. Similarly on software side, target those thousands of MOM and POP companies having 1-2 clients that dot in Hyderabad/Bangalore/Pune etc. Make sure in the interview that they understand that in start ups, real returns will come in only after some time and lots of hard work needs to be put in. Do not hesitate to negotiate hard on salary.

4. Financing (Angel investors, crowd sourcing etc..) Recently I met a guy who was co-founder of a start-up that grew 20 times in 2 years. He has just quit. Why? Could not handle financier’s demands and growth targets pressure, direction financier wanted the company to go. Although financing might be mandatory at some point of time, In India, it’s very much possible to run the show on a very shoe string budget. DO NOT spend your live savings but develop some mechanism so that basic requirements can be met. I will speak about it more in a subsequent post.

TO BE CONTINUED….