Purushottam Kaushik, Managing Director-C. Sales, Cisco Systems, speaks on the latest initiatives in India that his organization is working on, and the state of the smart city ecosystem in the country.
Could you share some of the initiatives that you are currently working on?
Within my group we have initiatives like smart cities, physical surveillance, which is a part of Internet of Everything (IOE) but also a part of safe cities. We have IOE as a large initiative and would cover manufacturing, oil & gas and public utilities. There will be multiple streams (in IOE) and it will cover manufacturing and utilities too. Then you have transport and oil & gas. Oil & gas is a big investment that is happening. I am also leading the India digitization (drive) which is the national broadband part. This is something in which we are working very closely with the government. And then I also have 40-odd top enterprise accounts where you´ll see maximum receptivity happening. Accounts like ONGC, ITC, L&T, and (other) large accounts, even metro transport corporations.
And it can´t deliver you your quarter in the short-term or medium term..
It won´t deliver, but can we miss it? It´s a huge opportunity in play right now. Similarly physical surveillance, we have solutions all across. We are perhaps the only integrated player who has been across the networking and routing part, because Bangalore has to be done as a safe city where we have to put cameras and analytics around. Then you have to put together control operations and then put a connecting layer for everything. But there is no player except Cisco who plays all across and can deliver a complete solution. So that´s something which we are really playing because physical surveillance is, under the government initiative, one of the largest initiatives that we are having.
Moving on, how do your solutions help to improve manufacturing?
We have a routing switching solution next to the machines, which takes all inputs with the help of a software solution and then it goes into a reporting tool which is practically giving you an online view of what´s happening. If you want to change the machinery or change the whole process for introducing a new product, you don´t have to wait for many days of planning and that´s pretty much available on it. So that´s a manufacturing play. Then you have oil & gas where today there is a huge cost sitting there while you are drilling. So while you are drilling the tool goes in the cube, (in a) built (fashion). You drill the tool for another maybe three days and you pull out the data (out) and you take one week to analyse (it) and start drilling again. There are ways and means in which you can put sensors around, put in cameras, then you can see the exact view and then you can do an online analysis as well. You don´t have to wait for three days and one week. Similarly in the oil & gas sector, one major challenge is that most of the experts who are available for resolution or providing some advisory services, are all some 55-60 years old. Oil & gas has a very typical problem of (human) resources, they are all mostly Europeans or Australians. Now to leverage them we have a collaboration tool; they don´t need to be onsite all the time. You can have a pretty low skill guy sitting on the site who can work exactly on instructions of the other (offsite) guy. So it´s a remote maintenance operation which can be done which is going to be much cheaper. There are various solutions emerging.
The model has to be self-sustaining whether it is water, electricity, waste disposal, traffic and roads, etc.
Will there be mainly brownfield smart cities?
Mostly it will be brownfield, but there could be a combination of brownfield plus some greenfield also. They will mark out some areas, suppose Delhi outer, and take some areas here and combine them to a smart city zone. These things are possible. The other thing is focused areas, for example BKC (Bandra-Kurla Complex), there is a tender which is already out trying make BKC a smart city. And third, there are private 100 acre plus complexes, gated complexes; I can make my gated complexes a smart city. So these are three-four plays which we see in the market.
Now the gated complex is more of a commercial model issue and a mindset change issue. We are trying to organise a few events and forums where we can bring in all the private builders, bring in organizations like real estate management organizations. We are seeing how we can connect the dots here and try to become a player who can do mass scale and not just limit ourselves to MoUs and pilots. We have seen enough of that. And it doesn´t really end up into any business.
Some practices like surveillance may evolve much earlier and the deeper issues may be tackled later on..
That´s where we are now getting focused. From the technology perspective you need some inputs like cameras, sensors, something to collect data whether you put sensors in the dustbin or whether you put cameras in the traffic points or anywhere you need something to collect the data. You need a connectivity layer where you need all the data to be brought into a central place either to a control & operation centre or to a data-centre so every¡thing has to be done, so that´s a connectivity layer. You put Wi-Fi and then on top of it you need something to process where you put a data-centre or clouds wherever you can follow services or deploy government cloud, private cloud, State cloud and then you put applications on top of it. Applications could be numerous. There are 42 CISCO solutions where we have parking, electricity, street lighting etc. You have to figure out how much is required in phase I, what is the revenue model in each other services, what is the increment, what is the investment which you have to make, whether it is sustainable to deploy such kind of application, etc. Whether it´s sustainable is something which has to be seen from that perspective and then the solution has to come. But some of the fundamental solutions need to be done. You have to put cameras and sensors, you have to put in Wi-Fi. So that´s what is being said that you keep on working on this larger picture. Obviously (we have to study) the ecosystem, partners or players like Microsoft, IBM, on how will they be part of the same consortium. Because I don´t think there is much overlapping among the players around, everybody is playing to their strengths, like Microsoft is focusing on their software standardized software, we are trying to have as much networking & collaboration and set cameras safety around it.
But does the government have the under¡standing on how to invite various vendors to offer solutions?
I don´t think they will go that way. My understanding is that, they will better try to control the KPIs and SLAs, the end result, and say I don´t care which technology you use. The only thing that you have to be careful enough is to see that my city is designed for 50 years or 10 years. Because if I do a 10-year plan, the equipment or the infra which I create will be very different than when I do 50-year planning. You have to leave something to the player who is going to be the city developer who then further sub-contracts it to multiple entities, or maybe signs on a consortium with multiple players and makes those consortium partners responsible for their own technology to prove that it is delivered for 50 years. There has to be a master city developer, there has to be some technology partner in IT and then finally (have to decide) who is going to run the broadband services. We are the equipment providers/ technology providers. Similarly there has to be somebody who runs water, somebody who runs the electric grid. Somebody has to bring the transmission grid to at least one of my points to so-called smart city. Similarly I can´t do everything, like transport. The Metro has to connect somewhere for the larger ´other´ part of the city. So the whole thing will be divided into pieces, but there has to be an interated view. It cannot be a standalone approach. So it´s still kind of an evolving scenario.