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View from India: IoT is the key to creating Smart Cities

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The Government of India aims to develop a connected and smart Internet of Things (IoT) system for the country’s economy, society, environment and global needs. Implementation of IoT in India has gained impetus through initiatives such as Digital India and the Smart Cities.

These are some insights shared in the report, 'Internet of Things in Smart Cities'.

The Government of India (GoI) took its first stride towards preparation of an Internet of Things (IoT) policy framework in 2015. The draft policy intends to create an IoT industry worth USD15 billion by 2020.

Understandably, IoT requires an ecosystem backed by skill development and capacity for building efforts. Research and development needs to be encouraged so that India-specific IoT products are developed. Network standards and domain-specific standards are essential to support the Smart Nation initiative and private-sector deployment of the technology. “The expected widespread adoption of ‘Internet of Things’ (IOT) will prove to be a seminal factor in improving the efficacy of urban infrastructure, as well as in improving the quality of services to the citizen, thereby enhancing the livability of a city,” said Elias George, chairman (Infrastructure, Government and Healthcare), KPMG in India.

The report indicates that the adoption of smart solutions has gained real traction in the ‘Smart City’ initiative across India. With a large volume of sensor-based infrastructure, citizen-centric solutions and big data analytics solutions being taken up in most smart cities, the IoT ecosystem provides the right platform to manage and monitor modern urban landscapes. 

“Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in India are developing their Smart City plans in alignment with the Internet of Things to enable their overarching strategy and meet their operational and community challenges,” explained Ramendra Verma, partner, Government Advisory.

Smart Cities can happen through a combination of government projects and Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives. “The Internet of Things (IoT), a fundamental component of most smart cities, has, in particular, a potential economic value of $4-11 trillion annually by 2025,” added Prem Bhel, chairman, Exhibitions India Group.

Technology and digitalisation have resulted in an integrated approach to a smart urban ecosystem. This has led to a huge marketplace and demand for IoT. City planners and governing bodies are on a continuous lookout to innovate and adopt IoT solutions that meet their town’s priorities. The need to make our cities smarter and more live-able is increasingly seen as a vital way to improve their competitiveness and resilience in today’s resource-constrained world. 

Like any multinational enterprise, a smart city generates vast quantities of data that needs to be stored and subsequently analysed. The level of complexity involved in the analysis of data surpasses human capability.

For instance, city administrators can leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to extract and cross-reference insights from the different datasets involved. Administrators can use the findings to solve problems, automate processes, improve performance where necessary and come up with new smart features and services. The data collected helps to gain valuable insights on urban living and transform livability parameters and future infrastructure. 

There are other technologies that form the backbone of IoT. Besides AI, edge computing, cognitive computing and IoT platforms, along with mobile internet, cyber security, predictive analytics and digital literacy are among the emerging levers driving IoT in Smart Cities. IoT platforms enable the delivery of IoT applications and management of devices at rapidly reduced cost and time. The platforms provide a wide range of features to onboard devices, connect them securely and handle data exchanges.

IoT gives business value to Smart Cities through a confluence of technologies. For us, the consumers, it would be seen in terms of intelligent traffic management, smart health, smart meters, smart lighting and parking and waste collection. “The induction of IoT into the urban setting is also expected to ensure more optimal management and utilisation of public resources in addition to making city services like urban transit more customer-centric. All said and done, IoT is expected to become a key factor in making a city truly smart and more livable,” reasoned George.

In a nutshell, Smart Cities are about cities with efficient operations and improved quality of life. The focus of city governing bodies should be to implement technology in the most non-intrusive manner, allowing the citizens to adopt it willingly. The IoT intervention should achieve the goal of urban sustainability, infrastructure efficiency or economic growth. “However, success in implementing and sustaining smart cities will take more than slick applications, connected devices and advanced analytics. It will require a strong adherence to customer centricity, support in standardisation, development of regulatory frameworks and penetration of equitable digital dexterity,” said Verma. 

KPMG in association with Exhibitions India Group launched the 'Internet of Things in Smart Cities' report at the fifth Smart Cities India 2019 Expo, held in May 2019. 

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