Aalok Kumar, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, NEC Corporation India Pvt Ltd, explains how they are leveraging their know-how and expertise to contribute to the realization of urban digitalization in countries worldwide.
DQ: How are you using technology to facilitate and support better planning and decision making? How are you achieving integrated goals of citizen happiness, making life easier, and promoting economic and competitive activity?
Aalok Kumar: At NEC India, we have been working for decades on enhancing the lives of the people, making it safe, inclusive and convenient. ‘Orchestrating a brighter world’ is not merely a tagline, but a promise, and something we live by everyday. We believe that technology has the power to add tremendous value to the everyday lives of the people, both in terms of ease of life and happiness quotient, as well as economic power. At NEC, we strive to unlock this potential to deliver on our promise.
Enabling state and central governments in looking out for the interest of its citizens is an integral part of this endeavor. Listed below are some of our turnkey solutions that have helped governments in better planning, and decision making, ultimately enabling them to govern its people more effectively.
Integrated Command & Control Centres (ICCC): NEC has developed and implemented ICCCs in Thiruvananthapuram and Saharanpur which primarily help bring under one common system, the various departments within a city. It further uses information technology to help modernize several key functions including traffic management, traffic control, traffic law enforcement, security and safety, e-governance, municipal operations, and much more. To support governments in day-to-day decision making, as well as for emergencies, the ICCC software can also be connected with the Contact Centre, Mobile App, existing State & City Helpline Numbers, and E-Governance solutions such as Property Tax, and Healthcare.
Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS): to help the police departments of several states in making the cities safer, and curb crime rates, we have developed the AFIS which law enforcement bodies can cross match fingerprints against a larger database using biometric technology for criminal investigation. Recently, NEC’s AFIS has helped Kerala police and Karnataka police in cracking 675 and 517 criminal cases respectively.
Apart from these, at the various smart cities projects that NEC is present, we have developed Intelligent Traffic Management Systems, Environmental and flood sensors, Smart Parking Management Solutions, Smart Waste Management, Centralized citizen Grievance Monitoring and Management application all of which use AI based video analytics technology. The Intelligent Traffic Management System is designed to integrate Traffic Sensing Cameras along with Adaptive Traffic Control Systems. The Automatic Traffic Violation Detection mechanism is developed to ensure that traffic violations are detected and registered in time. The system could be further connected to an e-challan system, enabling direct sending of challans to the violators while enabling increased visibility and transparency in the system. Further, our surveillance cameras and facial recognition technologies have been useful in not only traffic management, but also keeping in mind the overall safety of cities.
One of our most significant projects in collaboration with the GoI has been the development of a large-scale biometrics system for the ambitious Aadhaar Program, one of the largest national identification systems of the world. Launched by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), this program aims to provide all residents of India with a unique identity and a digital platform to authenticate anytime, anywhere. Essential to the development of an inclusive nation, the program gathers and manages the names, addresses and biometric information of the entire population, so as to be able to deliver equal access to education, healthcare, social welfare, banking, and other public and financial services to every single person in the country.
NEC is also helping the Airports Authority of India in implementing contactless boarding in 4 airports (Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune, and Vijayawada). This is a biometric based boarding platform founded on Facial Recognition Systems, which uses computer algorithms to capture specific details of a person’s face and match it with a similar pre-stored image in the database.
Additionally, the NEC Artificial Intelligence Platform (AIPF) division has also developed several cutting-edge solutions that are geared towards solving complex problems, and ramping up the productivity of various critical industries such as BFSI, Agriculture, Healthcare, e-commerce, Insurance, to name a few. This has helped mitigate potentially damaging risks, ultimately helping the end-users.
DQ: How has been the government-citizen collaboration so far?
Aalok Kumar: We have been one of the longest-standing partners of the Government in driving digital transformation in the country. Starting in the 1950’s, when we provided microwave communication system to the National Physics Laboratory and digital switching system to the DoT, to today where we are working on multiple safe and smart city initiatives across the country, we have come a long way. We have ably supported the Government over the years in building infrastructure that rests on technology. We have delivered numerous projects across industries in transportation, logistics, telecommunications, submarine, aviation, public safety etc., that are a testament to our capabilities to accomplish turnkey projects.
Elaborate on the role played by IoT in smart governance.
IoT (Internet of Things) is emerging as a significant mega trend worldwide, making businesses/government agencies (as the case may be) and systems smart, connected and efficient, and its applications are manifold.
Firstly, it goes a long way in saving resources and time. NEC’s IoT-powered predictive maintenance solution allows real-time data ingestion from siloed sources, applies Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning on sensor data to determine when an asset needs to be maintained or replaced, avoiding costly equipment failures and unscheduled downtime.
Additionally, NEC’s IoT solutions supports a wide range of Smart City applications including urban planning, managing city wide services, improving public transportation and managing traffic congestion, enabling citizen safety etc.
IoT powered smart meters help enable effective communications across a wide range of meters with secure, scalable and flexible metering systems. This gives them the power to make real time decisions by monitoring utility asset performance in real-time, tracking customer usage, predicting demand, reducing fraud and enhancing operational efficiency. Similarly, in the healthcare industry, IoT enables the analyses of data to help deliver a seamless patient journey while focusing on cost reduction by deriving key insights from this data. Another key area where IoT driven data analytics is logistics, wherein it can help with real-time cargo monitoring, and ultimately transform the way goods move.
DQ: What have been the outcomes, so far, on sustainable urban development?
Aalok Kumar: NEC aims at realizing a sustainable society where everyone has the chance to reach their full potential. Our management approach entails conducting dialogues and co-creation with many different stakeholders while advancing business activities that help address social issues.
Moreover, we not only fulfill our responsibility to comply rigorously with laws, regulations, and sound corporate ethics but also proactively lower risks on activities that have potentially negative effects on society or the environment. Across the globe, NEC is engaging in a societal solutions that creates the values of safety, security, efficiency, and fairness. By fusing advanced ICT such as image analysis and cloud computing with the knowledge we have learned through the construction of infrastructure, we provide support for planning, design, development, implementation, and operations that facilitate the digitalization of cities.
NEC is leveraging its know-how and expertise to contribute to the realization of urban digitalization in countries worldwide. For instance, in the twin cities of Hubbali Dharwad, we have built a unified platform, that integrates and analyses data from all major citizen services like Public Works Department, Electricity and Water Board, Solid Waste Management, schools, hospitals, etc., in real time. This not only advances the efficiency of utility & citizen centric services but also fosters improved connect between residents and agencies, empowering municipal corporations to meet resident’s needs proactively.
DQ: What steps have you taken to gather trust from citizens?
Aalok Kumar: As mentioned earlier, one of our fundamental priorities at NEC is to build an inclusive, efficient, and human-centric society – make a difference to the lives of the end users. And this can only be achieved when the people of a nation place their trust in us, that we will look out for their best interests.
Apart from showing tangible results, and proving our technological and innovative mettle, one indispensable tool in earning the trust of the people is ‘communication’ that is honest, open, and strikes a chord with the people. One of our campaigns titled ‘NEC Makes it Happen’ has been instrumental in shifting the brand perception from being a ‘technical’ one to being a ‘people’s brand’ which is present in one’s daily lives. This campaign was a concerted effort to showcase how NEC’s technology is solving the most basic to the most complex human and societal challenges, and this has gone a long way in bolstering our trust quotient.
A testament to the legacy of trust NEC has gathered over its 70 years of existence in India is reflected in the myriad of projects (aforementioned) that have been awarded to us by the guardians of our society – the heads of state and government bodies. One of the most significant ones, that reflects the immense trust in NEC is a project wherein we helped the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) convert its smart city control center into a Covid war room to combat the spread of coronavirus in the city. The Integrated Command Center was set up to coordinate traffic management and to maintain law and order in the city during the lockdowns. We believe that technology has the power to add tremendous value to the everyday lives of the people, both in terms of ease of life and happiness quotient, as well as economic power. At NEC, we strive to unlock this potential to deliver on our promise.
This not only advances the efficiency of utility & citizen centric services but also fosters improved connect between residents and agencies, empowering municipal corporations to meet resident’s needs proactively.