Aamer Azeemi Smart Cities Advisor; Former Managing Director-Cisco


Enterprise Architecture & Technology Innovation
Technology plays a huge role not only as an enabler but also an important medium of delivering services. Everybody talks about Wi-Fi services in our city today. Wi-Fi is basically nothing but an essential medium to deliver citizen services to people. Wi-Fi in itself is not an important service to have. To use Wi-Fi, to deliver services to people wherever they are, for whichever device they are using, Wi-Fi as a medium to extract a lot of relevant public information, is important. So if I can give you an example of what some western cities are doing. They are giving free Wi-Fi at bus stands - for example when people are waiting for a bus, they get some free Wi-Fi for 30 minutes or whatever, but they use that information to see how many people are waiting at the bus stand. So by leveraging that information, they do multiple things like they could send more buses to that bus stand to clear up that crowd. If the bus is going to take few more minutes, they can leverage that platform to say, “here is a nearby coffee shop why don’t you go avail a 10% discount on it”. So advertising revenue also comes here. That’s just one example and there are many examples whether its parking, waste management, water management, etc. In my opinion what I always like to say is that- how do you learn from the best practices of the western world and adopt those in India for adapting them to the right environment? If you are developing a sensor, don’t look at it by developing it for one particular use, you can use it for multiple users thereby minimizing the overall cost of the sensor. So technology as I said is very important for this sector and at the end of the day, the idea is, how do you put citizens at the center of this whole thing? How do you deliver services to citizens so it can improve their quality of life? So if people remember that whether it is technology vendors themselves or the people in the public sector who are procuring those services, I think it’s a very good situation for all.

Enterprise Digital Transformation
I think that is a phenomenon that is going to change the entire world. The simplest examples in India is that it has completely revolutionized the Digital Business Model. As an example, if you look at OYO rooms, they don’t own any hotel rooms but they are largest supplier of hotel rooms. This is the power of digitalization where a person sitting at home using their devices can actually have the power of getting services delivered to them. These are few examples but if you look at what government is trying to do; Digital Locker is another great example. Also, if you look at the Government of Telangana, they just introduced an application called M-wallet and what it does is that you as a driver on the road, don’t need to carry your driving license, registration card or your insurance card, all of those are certified and uploaded to the wallet which is a Cloud based system where you can show that on a mobile phone of the police officer. My view is that these Technologies are being developed with citizen at the center, for improving the quality of life of the middle class nationals. There are many examples, like, everybody talks about connected cars where IOT will truly change the world with connected cars coming to the streets very soon.

It will be about using the ecosystem in the car while driving to deliver more services. It might not mean that you are sitting and the car is autonomously driving itself. It is there but connected car is not just that. Connected car is for person who is captive while driving the car during the journey. Meaningful services that are useful to that person, can be delivered during that captive moment.

Emerging Technologies
It has to be IoT because it is something which is going to touch and impact everything in the world. People are talking about Digital Farms for example where farmers are implementing sensors that are very cheap that will help them know about enough moisture in the soil and when he needs to water the plants. It would also help them know, about dried fruits ready to be plucked from trees.

Trends that will drive the Future of Technology
IOT is definitely going to change the way people live their life. Today you already have technologies available where people are getting education at home, people are getting healthcare at home. Gaming Technology is something that is going to be huge and gaming technologies are going to be used in ways that we have never thought about. Up till now kids were playing games and elders always stayed away from all of that but I think in future, elders will also start gaming because it could be used to deliver lot more services. In a hospital scenario, doctors are being trained on operating a particular patient. In the Aviation Industry, flying aircrafts for example? They have been doing that simulation from a very long time, it will be used in construction for constructing bridges.

Challenges of Disruptive Innovation
One of the most important challenge that I see is Security. Security needs to be embedded at very early desired state to be impactful. There is an example that I quote when I talk about security, few years ago there was a gentleman who actually hacked into the cardiac pacemaker of ex vice president of USA. And he did that only to prove a point. He could have done some damage but he didn’t do that. The point is not that you cannot prevent those attacks and if you look at banks today, banks are running secure systems today. Who would have thought that you can sit and use your mobile phone and transact all of your business sitting at home? It is the similar process that needs to be used by all IOT vendors. It is a process that needs to be used by the consumers of technology as they are implementing this solution and it should be adapted at a very early stage.

The other challenge if you talk about technology in India is affordability, whether it’s a public sector or government sector more importantly the private sector and I think the answer to that lies in companies starting to look at newer business models. You have to look at more business models, you have to look at managed services, you have to look at basically reducing capital intensive projects with more OPEX based projects. I know it is very easy to say that but we have to start thinking about those only then things start working.