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Before the smart cities, the Bangalore test

Arun Jaitley’s budget last week allocated Rs 7,060 crore to the 100 smart cities.

Written by Johnson T A | Bangalore |
Updated: July 15, 2014 12:37:14 am
Electronics City, preparing to set the template.Source: Reuters/file	Electronics City, preparing to set the template. Source: Reuters/file

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of creating 100 smart cities may be some years from realisation, some experiments for the information technology core for these cities could begin as early as this Diwali at Electronics City in Bangalore. Arun Jaitley’s budget last week allocated Rs 7,060 crore to the 100 smart cities.

Over the next few months, data for public utility services for a 5-km stretch at Electronics City — including parking, safety and security, streetlights and water management — is set to be thrown open to private companies for the creation of smart parking, surveillance and traffic management solutions.

In a “Living Lab”, cameras and sensors will be deployed along with a broadband and WiFI network to gather information on traffic patterns, parking and security situations, water, power usage. The information will be transmitted to a central data centre. Access to the data centre will be provided to IT companies and entreprenuers to build products for smart cities such as apps for parking availability, remote monitoring of traffic and security. “At the moment we are focused on smart traffic management, electronic surveillance and parking. We will move to water metering and enviroment management later,” said Aruna Newton, president of Electronics City Industries Association (Elcia).

“The opportunity for companies is that they can build cameras, sensors, access devices and create software, analytics packages that will use intelligence from feeds to create smart solutions for urban problems, like for instance messaging parking availability information, to smartphones or other devices,” she said.

Elcia and Cisco, which are in contention for building five of the 21 smart cities proposed in the proposed Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, have entered into a strategic agreement to create the “Living Lab” . The agreement comes after Cisco chairman and CEO John Chambers met top officials in the NDA government last month.

Cisco and Elcia officials said the initiative in Bangalore was independent of the 100-smart city project. They added, however, that successful experiments at the “Living Lab” could be leveraged for smart cities.

“The user trials for the Living Lab in Electronics City for creation of smart city IT solutions is expected to begin by Diwali this year. It will be ready for use by New Year,” Elcita (Electronic City Industrial Township Authority) president Kiron Shah said. The project will utilise a Cisco Smart City WiFi solution to allow access to public utility information and Elcia will embed Cisco equipment in the experiment zone to create the fibre-optics backbone of the smart city.

“It is a digitisation of the country that we are trying to do here. To do that we need to create new ecosystems, new models of businesses, which is what we are trying to do with Elcita,” said Anil Memon, president at Cisco for its smart connected communities business.

Electronics City is spread over 900 acres and has 186 companies that employ around 1.5 lakh people. Its IT exports are valued at Rs 40,000 crore. The region has enjoyed an independent status since March 2013. It is governed by Elcita comprising IT industry representatives rather than municipal authorities. Elcita pays a proportion of its tax revenues to the three local village panchayats that the region spans.

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