India's Quest for Smart Cities

Ruchika Goel
New Update

Several reports suggest that the urban population in India is expected to rise by more than 400 mn people to 814 mn by 2050. India, therefore faces the kind of urbanization which was earlier seen in China. To stand up to this challenge, the newly elected government has proposed the smart city project which aims to create 100 cities in India by 2022, though only 22 cities have been chosen for the first phase. Indian citizens, empowered by the digital tech, expect quality in the government services. Hence the public authorities are seeking to reduce costs and raise performance by adopting technological approaches in the delivery of public services. To this end, the smart city initiative is gaining momentum.


Smart cities will no longer be smart enough without the deployment of smart solutions in every aspect of these cities. While there are several key aspects to this, smart cities will consume smart meters, sensors and management systems, to name a few. These tools and solutions will play a big role in the smooth functioning of these cities. ICT will help these cities to allocate resources properly. There would be barely any leakages as the resources will be used in an adequate manner. There would be more usage of renewable energy. Security would be elaborate as the sensors powered by IoT systems will keep watch on each nook and cranny.

At a city-wide scale it’s about connecting, servicing and supporting devices in a framework that manages consumption and encourages efficiency. In our search for some of the key questions around smart cities, we asked the solution providers and sought their insights on how these cities can be built. One of the key points which seldom emerges is that it would be unfair to generalize the smart city concept globally. India's smart cities can not be the lookalikes of the smart cities in Europe or the USA. Cultural and geographical challenges are bound to shape up the cities differently in every part of the globe.

Major IT companies are evaluating the potential of smart cities. Let us read how IT companies view smart cities in India and what type of business opportunities lie in them.


There is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution for smart cities: Purushottam Kaushik, Managing Director, Sales, Growth Verticals, Cisco India & Saarc

Currently, majority of the states in India are blueprinting plans around how the smart city roadmap is going to be ready. While some of the states are ready to go to the next stage, others are still in the process of creating the blueprint. Cisco is already in discussions with various state governments to transform around 20 cities into smart, connected ones. Some of the Indian cities Cisco is already in an advaned stage of discussion are Jaipur, Pune, Nagpur, Navi Mumbai, NDMC and Lucknow, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh. Beside this we are also working with some private smart cities, industrial townships, and large IT campus to be developed as smart cities.

Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor: Cisco has developed pilot ICT master plans for four cities in the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor – the $90 bn flagship public sector infrastructure project by the Government of India.


The cities are :

Jaipur Smart City: In an effort to make Jaipur a smart city, Cisco announced its partnership with Jaipur Development Authority wherein Cisco has set up the digital infrastructure to offer citizens amenities including connected transport, interactive kiosks, wireless broadband, safety and security services, traffic management and environmental updates. To manage the city with greater efficiency and effectiveness, Jaipur will also have a Command and Control Centre as well as a Response Control Room powered by Cisco technologies

Smart Surveillance System in Lucknow

-To make Lucknow a safer city, Cisco along with Mahindra Defence Systems, is working towards a project under a Rs. 40 crore contract


-About 10,000 drones are expected to be installed across the city over the next one year

-The surveillance project currently covers 70 crossings where police have installed 280 cameras

-Mobile surveillance vans equipped with night vision cameras have also been deployed


City Surveillance in Navi Mumbai

-Cisco has deployed an IP-based city surveillance system in Navi Mumbai that includes video surveillance which provides analytics and intelligent incident response, emergency communication

-The system also provides alerts to the Police Department about abnormal movements/ suspicious objects and allows better management of security through 24x7 intelligent monitoring


-It facilitates faster response to security breaches and improved turnaround time for investigation

-Including Navi Mumbai, the company is carrying out five more smart surveillance projects


Smart cities will run on smart, digital infrastructure: Ravinder Singh, Director, Solutions Strategy & Business Development at Dell IoT, Smart Cities


The foundation of Smart Cities will be built on open, scalable, futuristic, and converged infrastructure, which will be complemented first by data solutions and then, applications. And Dell’s core offerings are in the compute, storage, server, datacentre and end devices space.  If we look at these facilitators and Dell’s core capabilities, we are leaders in most of the pivotal Infrastructure pieces. As we all know, data forms a core part of smart cities and the conversation is generally around 3 important aspects—Data collection, Data Storage and Data Consumption. Dell’s leadership in IoT Gateways, Storage and end devices is essential complete the cycle here.

Dell is well-equipped to create a digital blueprint of a smart city, and have a network of partners to provide the application support. Our partners bring along applications like garbage tracking, video analytics, surveillance, smart utilities, intelligent traffic management, and so on. With this large network, we are well placed to partner with the government in this journey. We work with customers in 3 ways: As their digital architects to help them create digitally enabled smart cities, providing core foundation technologies, and bringing an ecosystem together.

In India, Dell India has been involved with the e-Kranti project in launched by the Gujarat State Cooperative Credit Societies Federation, with the objective to facilitate the delivery of all government services electronically to citizens. Under this context, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Gujarat State Cooperative Credit Societies Federation and Dell’s channel partner—Earth Syscom and Project Central Partner—Jintech Solutions for the execution of this project.


We are working towards bridging the cybersecurity skills gap: Shrikant Shitole, Managing Director, India, Symantec

Such an aspiring initiative will provide benefits but will at the same time, expose vulnerabilities in the form of information security challenges. With digital transformation, information security needs to be considered as an integral part of the plan rather than an afterthought. We are unlocking tremendous organic innovation in our products and working towards bridging the cybersecurity skills gap.

Symantec has a successful history of partnering with governments and law enforcement agencies worldwide to counter cyber threats. In 2013, Government of India identified a cybersecurity skills deficit in the country. Symantec has been contributing towards bridging the skillset deficit since 2012. Starting in 2012 and concluding in 2016, Symantec Education led a project sponsored by the Government of Meghalaya (Meghalaya Information Technology Society (MITS)) to train the youth of Meghalaya in IT and security principles, followed by exams, certification and job fairs to connect them to employers.

Last year we partnered with Nasscom and took another big step towards building cyber security skills in India, by announcing our intent to train over 50,000 cyber security professionals over the next few years.

The Modi-led government is making revolutionary changes in the IT infrastructure of the country: Dr. Niraj Parkash, Director - Applications Consulting, Oracle India

Being a technology player, these are exciting times for us. The Modi-led government is making revolutionary changes in the IT infrastructure of the country and the proposed initiatives appear heartening to Indians.

Particularly for Oracle, we have been working with governments across the globe for smart city projects. As the world’s leading information Management Company, Oracle understands that local government’s most valuable asset is information. Oracle’s Solutions for Smart Cities is designed to provide local governments with the tools necessary to empower employees in providing citizens with consistent information, and the ability to leverage legacy systems to analyze customer information to optimize program delivery. Oracle’s Solutions for Smart Cities provides a complete solution, by bringing together the best practices and processes from around the world into a solution architecture incorporating the breadth and depth of the Oracle portfolio of open server and storage systems, data base and technologies, middleware, and applications.

Like the opportunities, the challenges for developing smart cities are also humongous. The first big challenge would be to augment existing city infrastructure. The replacement should be viable from business perspective. All the timely clearances to complete the projects could be another challenge; as different departments with different concerns on their mind would be involved in the projects. Smart cities demand huge investments, effort wise & money wise. So, recognizing and maintaining the investment flow is another challenge that needs to be addressed. Another significant challenge would be to work in multi-vendor environment. The ability to handle smart city solutions given by and serviced by different vendors is another key challenge. Paucity of expert manpower that can make and sustain a smart city is another big obstacle.

Sekaran Letchumanan, Vice President of Operations, Flex

Flex has recently acquired Wink, the smart home platform that enables smart products to work together seamlessly, and connect and communicate globally.

Wink improves the functionality and usefulness of disparate devices in the home by allowing them to communicate with each other, while enhancing usability through a shared common interface in the Wink mobile app.

Wink lets you control hundreds of smart products — from companies like GE, Honeywell, and Philips —from your Android or iOS device. What does that mean for everyday life? Imagine driving home in your Tesla. As you turn down your street, you call up Wink on the car screen and activate the Chamberlain garage door opener. The Schlage lock on the door separating the garage from your house unlocks as you approach, the lights come on, and the thermostat is set to your optimal temperature.

It is vital to engage with state government, city administration, and planners to understand their objectives and KPIs: Manish Oberoi, Head of Sales – Global Enterprise and Public Sector, Nokia India

Nokia’s smart city solution is designed to provide the ‘building blocks’ for enabling new smart city applications that can be rapidly created, deployed and managed. Nokia delivers products, tools and services for city devices and sensors, city-wide access, a city shared network for aggregation and backhauling of data communication, city cloud architectures, IoT service creation, security and threat intelligence, device and connectivity management platforms, data collection, analytics, application enablement and ecosystem, while addressing customer experience, security, scalability and professional services.

For example, through our extensive mobile networks and small cells portfolio we provide cellular and Wi-Fi coverage and capacity to outdoor and indoor locations. We also provide a mission critical Wide Area Network (WAN), leveraging our IP/MPLS, optics, and microwave products portfolio, as well as our unified service aware network manager, converges multiple point to point legacy networks into a single IP backbone supporting all city agencies’ needs. We offer City Cloud networking solutions to help cities reap all the benefits of an open cloud architecture, in a secure manner. Our open cloud networking offer comprises Nuage Networks SDN and Data Center interconnect, offering low latency and highly-secure connections in between data-centers. The IoT Community ecosystem of the ng Connect Program innovative companies together to collaborate on solution concepts, end-to-end prototypes, business models, and market trials.

The challenge is primarily two fold – funds and time: Vishvesh Prabhakar, Managing Director, Sustainability for Accenture

At Accenture we have capabilities to help a city envision it’s future for next 5,10,30 years and convert that vision into blueprint of distinct programs defining objective, governance, partnerships, technology and capacity building for each program. We are organized into 5 horizontal capabilities – Strategy, Consulting, Digital, Technology and Outsourcing and these also represent our areas of specialization.

We have worked on smart cities across the globe. For example, for Yokohoma we are leveraging multi stakeholder partnerships to drive environment sustainability while in Singapore we have worked on making the city safer while back home in India we have worked recently with Nasscom to demystify definition of smart city and further west, in New York, we have worked on 311 as a single number to call for all citizen services.

Agendra Kumar

IoT would bring a city alive with connected sensors and devices generating real-time feeds: Agendra Kumar, President, Esri India

Esri is working with governments, organizations in India as well as globally in helping them set up an enterprise GIS technology platform which is now the backbone for customers to strategize their decision making, planning, execution and management. We have a complete platform ArcGIS with comprehensive suite of tool which helps city address different aspects of end-to-end city life cycle. There are best practices, references, solution templates, frameworks and experiential learning that could be leveraged for rapid deployment. Esri’s supporting technologies that utilize Geodesign principles would be pivotal in building smart cities.

In India, most of the mega projects such as like PMGSY, Highway development, R-APDRP, and Municipal Corporations, Forest departments, Utilities and Transport departments are already using ArcGIS extensively. GIS ready data is a very essential component in an overall GIS implementation. Almost all the mapping agencies in India such as Survey of India, Town and Country Planning Organizations, Registration General of India, Forest Survey of India and remote sensing centres also use Esri’s ArcGIS for data creation and analysis. This GIS ready data can be the basis for smart city planning.


Good transportation system is very important to make a smart city: Srinivas Rao, Sales Director, Government Sector, Hitachi Data Systems, India

The government’s Digital India vision is expected to propel the country into its next phase of growth. While both Smart Cities and Digital India projects will create new economic and social opportunities, they will also bring up challenges related to technology adoption and implementation to make the Digital India vision a reality.

Hitachi Data Systems is focused to support the public safety feature for Smart Cities, especially with the help of its enhanced Hitachi Visualization Solution Portfolio – Hitachi Visualization Suite 4.5, along with Hitachi Visualization Predictive Crime Analytics (PCA) and Hitachi Video Management Platform (VMP) 2.0.

Hitachi’s digital technologies can provide real-time, aggregate and contextual data, support public safety initiatives which will transform law enforcement to prevent crimes and ultimately make the cities safer. Hitachi Visualization solutions are part of Hitachi’s Social Innovation solutions portfolio, which is committed to the development of smart societies that are safer.

Hitachi Visualization Suite is a hybrid cloud-based platform is enhanced with predictive crime analytics, to integrate disparate data and video assets from public safety systems. It will provide law enforcement with critical insight to improve, and with capture real-time event data from sensors.

Hitachi’s Video Management Platform (VMP), an appliance-based solution, comprehensively manages all video data, and offers rich data integration management and visualization for video applications.

Public safety is a fundamental pillar of our vision for smart cities and societies. Smart Cities needs to be empowered with the ability to take a proactive approach to crime and terrorism. The ultimate goal for any city—smart or otherwise—should be to create an environment where people can live without worrying about safety.


Social media presents a unique opportunity to engage citizens in identifying and resolving key issues for the city: Siddhesh Bhobe - CEO, eMee & Center Head at Persistent Systems

Smart Cities will be built on advances in technologies like IoT (Internet of Things), big data and geo-spatial analytics coupled with rapid adoption of smartphones and social media, allowing city officials and administrators to take smart decisions, allocate resources in the most efficient and effective way, and provide citizens with the right information at the right time to improve the quality of life for everyone. Today’s cities generate huge amount of data, and the challenge is to analyze, visualize and link it to effective delivery of civic amenities and services for millions of citizens. Social media presents a unique opportunity to engage citizens in identifying and resolving key issues for the city, and bring in transparency and accountability in administration.

Persistent has been working with large, global enterprises as they go through an exciting phase of digital transformation in their business, and Smart Cities are no different in need and approach. Persistent’s digital transformation platform, Vega, brings together our traditional strengths in big data analytics, mobile, social and cloud to provide a strong, API-based analytics and engagement platform as the foundation for Smart City projects. Coupled with immersive user experiences through gamification (eMee), digital content delivery (Genwi) and monetization (Hoopz), Vega helps Smart Cities jumpstart their data-driven journey of growth and sustainability.


The dream is to have all major cities in India safe as well as self-sufficient: Anand Navani, Country Manager, VIS, Verint Systems

Smart Cities continue to be an important agenda for the central government and preliminary work has already gathered momentum in many cities. Safe and Smart Cities were also reemphasised by the allocation of Rs 3,205 crore in the recent Union Budget to the development of 100 Smart Cities across the country by 2020 and some minor reduction in custom duty exemption for come components for CCTV. Although the implementation of this is taking more time than anticipated, many cities are indeed gearing up to make themselves safer. At the forefront of this adoption is Surat which became a Safe City almost three years ago following the implementation of Verint Solutions. This precedent was soon followed by cities in Maharashtra who have already started implementation and will start functioning as Safe Cities in near future. Other cities like Hyderabad, Noida and Lucknow are in various stages of becoming one.

Concerns about reliability, performance, and security need to be addressed: Srinivas Padmanabharao, Director, Product Marketing, Akamai Technologies

To be able to successfully deliver digital services over the Internet, concerns about reliability, performance, and security need to be addressed. According to our latest Q4 2015 SOTI report, the average Internet connection speed in India is just 2.8 Mbps and ranks 114th globally. Only 17% of the Internet connections in India have 4 Mbps speed or more, and only 2.8% have speeds of 10 Mbps or more. India was also among the top 10 source countries for DDoS attacks and also features in the top 10 target countries for Web Application Attacks during Q4 2015. Fast Internet speeds and cybersecurity are prime challenges and ensuring that a robust and secure infrastructure is established should be a priority.

Akamai is partnering with organizations across different verticals to deliver secure and engaging user experiences to any device, anywhere. Our portfolio of web performance, media delivery, cloud security and cloud networking solutions are integral to delivering on the promise of smart cities.

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