Millennium Post

BOB the builder

The Central government’s announcement of 98 cities in India being chosen as Smart Cities has set the ball rolling for their becoming a reality and the infrastructure networks supporting these initiatives are now rushing in to fill the gaps in the requirements. As India seeks to manage urbanisation, digitisation and rise of disposable incomes as well as heightened middle-class expectations via ambitious housing and infrastructure development <g data-gr-id="68">plans</g> on the one hand, pressures from land constraints, <g data-gr-id="67">paucity</g> of modern infrastructure and inadequate energy supplies are expected to worsen further. In such an economically volatile scenario, smart and sustainable homes can be expected to be the need of the hour as well as a valuable investment for the future. In the coming decade, urbanisation, digitisation and industrialisation will be the three main drivers requiring 
modern infrastructure.

“The top 20 cities that will be financed this year can offer great investment opportunities for the private sector, especially if the government introduces special incentives for developing the cities,” Sanjay Dutt, Executive Managing Director, South Asia, Cushman and Wakefield, said while noting that the government’s announcement of 98 cities that have been shortlisted for smart cities mission includes a good mix of cities that are business centres, as well as cultural hubs. “This push for urban renewal is expected to lead to <g data-gr-id="74">surge</g> in prices within and in <g data-gr-id="75">vicinity</g> of the proposed smart cities, and early investors may attain attractive returns. However, sustaining the same would depend on <g data-gr-id="73">implementation</g> of various projects that will lead to better infrastructure which should eventually lead to more economic prospects for the city. With the highest number of smart cities announced in Uttar Pradesh, the populous state should expect to see sustainable urban centres. Although the concept of smart cities is relatively new in India and is an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, the government has done well in taking a much-needed step in announcing the list of cities. Optimum utilisation of resources and planned development by the public and private sector can deliver the infrastructure required in developing smart cities.”

Smart Home solutions for such Smart Cities is one of <g data-gr-id="66">initiatives</g> in the limelight where Schneider Electric India launched its full suite of Smart Homes solutions recently. “The Smart Home Solutions Market in India poised to grow 30 per cent YOY and market revenue to double in three years. Smart metering solutions alone can save India up to $20 billion annually by 2025. Safe secure and sustainable homes with Smart Technologies maintain their value and could command a higher resale value,” said Shrinivas Chebbi, Vice President, Partner and Buildings – Schneider Electric India, while launching its full suite of integrated Smart Home solutions to provide end to end solutions for multi-dwelling and independent home owners. Smart Home Solution encompasses home automation, wiring devices, final distribution, safety and energy management technologies that capture massive efficiencies across the value chain.

Emphasising the importance of sustainable and value-protected Smart Homes in light of the growing economic insecurities in today’s environment, Chebbi said, “Although Smart Homes may require a one-time initial investment, enhanced security, comfort and convenience leads to value in the long run. Retrofitting existing homes with Smart solutions can cost much less – in some cases, only 100th the cost of a newly-constructed Smart Home. These offer multiple benefits that recover their extra costs within a few years. In a price sensitive market like India, value for money and the security and stability of one’s investment is paramount.”

Philippe Delorme, Executive Vice-President, Buildings and Partner Business – Schneider Electric Global, said, “The core of smart homes is the fast-growing network of intelligently connected devices, machines and objects, which we call the “Internet of Things”. Energy-efficient technologies for homes, buildings and vehicles can save <g data-gr-id="57">upto</g> $15 billion worth of energy annually. Through smart metering, India can save $20 billion per year by 2025. Collectively, the application of all these technologies can have an economic impact of $50 billion to $95 billion per year in 2025 for India.”

In another Smart Cities initiative, Jasper – a global “Internet of Things (IOT)” platform leader from USA, partnered up with Indian telecommunication service provider Reliance Communications to enable enterprises throughout India to launch, manage and monetise Next-Generation IoT businesses by pairing the capabilities of Reliance’s 11 data center facilities and its Global Cloud Exchange (Cloud X) platform with Jasper’s global IoT services platform. “India is investing a great deal to empower citizens and enterprises with cutting-edge technology and infrastructure, and as a result, there is a large demand for Cloud and IoT services,” said Jahangir Mohammed, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Jasper. “This partnership allows us to support enterprises and governments throughout India in optimising and automating every stage of their IoT service lifecycle, enabling companies to get the most out of their devices, networks and applications. The Jasper Control Centre platform will enable enterprises throughout India to deliver IoT services that create value for customers and unlock new and recurring sources of revenue for the business.” 

Meanwhile, Godrej is eyeing the homes segment including SMART homes and is foraying into the fast-growing kitchen fitting segment in India. Kitchen fittings is an important part of the modular kitchen category in India, which is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 20–25 per cent and expected to become a Rs 6,000  crore market in next few years. Currently, the market which is valued at Rs 3000 crore, is largely served by international and domestic brands – which cater from the mid to the affluent segment. Godrej – from the first Anchor branded lock in 1897 to the first ever spring less lock in 1907 and the iconic “Navtal” in 1954 to the postmodern biometric locks – has set a benchmark in the locks industry and today its Godrej Locking Solutions and Systems (LOCKSS) – with Modular kitchens being in vogue where kitchen fitting is the spine that accentuates functionality and ergonomics of the setup – is aiming to cater to the urban middle-class for the same. Shyam Motwani, Executive VP and Business Head, Godrej Locking Solutions and Systems said Godrej’s efforts in marrying technology with design and aesthetics highlighted an organised and well-structured kitchen with time-saving, efficient utilisation of space for myriad kitchen essentials. Besides the new line of products being BIFMA certified to match international standards, Godrej has a robust quality check mechanism put in place for these products made from stainless steel materials which are salt spray tested and having 10–15 years of warranty. As a testament to its commitment towards quality manufacturing, all of these products undergo 1.5 lakh life cycle tests, he said.

SMART Security is however not limited but even applies to the Cloud where criminals use the Internet to wreak havoc with human activity. The recent fifth edition of CLOUDSEC 2015 – Internet Security Conference in Asia and Europe – addressed the issue of Digital Chaos with the theme “Expect The Unexpected” where they found that the nature of cyber attacks is evolving and not just corporate networks are at risk. Cyber-criminals are also attacking Internet-connected physical <g data-gr-id="71">infrastructure</g> such as petrol stations and automated vehicular systems. If ongoing studies in transportation security are any indication, attacks maybe heading in a direction that could turn hacking into a more physical concern. A successful airline hack, for example, could mean serious trouble in the skies.

Evolution of a smart ecosystem
With this new evolution, it is the most opportune moment to build cities which are both technologically chic and secure, according to Mehernosh B Pithawala, Marketing Head, Godrej Security Solution and M Anand, Sales & Marketing Head, Godrej Locking Solutions and Systems. “The Indian government, which envisages the development of 100 “Smart Cities”, has laid down 10 core infrastructure elements that would make for a smart city. They include robust IT connectivity, digitisation, safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly. Given the buzz around the Smart Cities Mission, a “smart” <g data-gr-id="174">eco-system</g> is expected to evolve, and smart gadgets will be in huge demand. Homes will become “smarter” with the need for various gadgets, appliances and white and brown goods to “talk” to one another and to their clever owners. 

As a consequence, there will be an upsurge in demand for everything that is “smart”, including security solutions. In the last few years, leaders of the security solution industry have leveraged their R&D and technology to create innovative home security solutions, going beyond safes into products such as video door phones, CCTV cameras and home alarm systems. All these solutions and products are smarter and more tech-enabled. 

To actualise the vision for creating safe and smart cities, it is imperative to involve security solution providers in the discourse of smart city planning. Since these cities are in the planning stages, this is the most opportune moment to lay foundations for a city that has an embedded web of security solutions. This would help in building a sense of security among the citizens and also help the police in better policing. The government and industry should work in tandem to develop minimum standards of security that should be provided to the citizens. With the recent national crime data revealing that every hour 100 criminal cases under different IPC heads are registered involving damage to life and assets of people, it is a reality that crime in both urban and rural areas is on the increase. What is important is to be prepared, to have one’s defences in place, to be as secure and safe as possible. 

Striking facts
  •  While Smart Cities take the cake, the rest of India has to wait for the benefits of modernisation to reach them. “About 69 per cent of India is a rural one which still remains considerably unmapped across segments, and rural market demands for fast-moving consumer products are expected to touch $100 billion by 2025 – thus necessitating bringing rural representation on the radar,” according to Pankaj Krishna, Founder & CEO, Chrome Data Analytics and Media, while launching in Mumbai recently “Chrome Rural Track” – the “World’s Largest Audit on Television Viewership and Channel Availability.” 

  • “Sadly, there is a whopping Rs 4,50,000 crores counterfeit/fake products market in India and this is the cause of highest loss to Industries in terms of revenue. Delhi alone accounts for <g data-gr-id="263">production</g> of about 70 <g data-gr-id="260">per cent</g> of the fake products in India, while there 40 illegal plants in Gurgaon churning out spurious drinking water.”

  •  “The size and social-cultural complexity of India’s rural landscape warranted the tracking at such a scale. So we are doing a census monthly – Phase One is already underway for 25,484 villages – that will encompass channel availability, claimed viewership, power cut trends and consumer durable preference & ownership. This effort is aimed at assisting marketers in strategising for rural India while also bringing issues affecting rural India into mainstream discussion – thus bridging the urban-rural divide in social and <g data-gr-id="273">economical</g> considerations also,” he said, while launching the “Chrome Rural Track – that will map 1,05,000 villages across India to study consumption patterns in television viewing – comprising advanced technology, field staff and tele-callers in 22 languages, besides using six proprietary tools. “Consumption patterns, consumer preferences and purchasing power of rural areas are significantly different from that of cities, and if we further dissect this data, there are radical differences in consumer behavior within individual villages. Where the social aspect is concerned, along with agriculture and simplicity of life – rural India is <g data-gr-id="269">today unfortunately</g> synonymous with Racism, Gender Inequality, Honour Killings, and the highest rate of Female Foeticide across the globe. There are over 1,000 female abortions happening per day in India.”

  •  Noting that there is a huge gap in the understanding of India’s rural consumers, Monica Tata, Member, Advisory Board, Chrome Data Analytics & Media, said, “Marketers need information that is dissected to a village level across India and, with television being the main tool to communicate with consumers, it is critical that the brands have a refined knowledge television viewing to take more informed decisions.”
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