In conversation with Sumit Chowdhury, CEO, Gaia Smart Cities- Facilitating smart cities through internet-of-things and digital analytics

While the concept of Smart cities is gearing up in Indian tech scenario, there are many initiatives that are being taken to implement the same. One such start up in this space which is working dedicatedly to create Smart cities for India is Gaia Smart Cities.

Founded in the year 2015, it was founded with the vision to bring together all the factors that are changing and shaping how we live, work and interact with our living environment. Providing and end-to-end internet of things (IOT) solutions for smart cities and industrial automation, it has various offerings to make such as providing sensing, metering, tracking, and analytics as a service for businesses and cities to monitor their operations and improve performance.

IoT India Magazine interacted with Sumit Chowdhury, Founder and CEO, Gaia Smart Cities to know more on this concept and how is Gaia facilitating a way towards a smarter India.

IoT India Magazine: How does IoT form the basis for smart city concept?

Sumit Chowdhury: Cities are looking to transform themselves into drivers for economic growth and deliver seamless, higher quality services for citizens. At the same time, city systems have become complex, multidimensional and interconnected. Every function and process in the city governance and administration generates data. Cities need to embed smartness, through internet-of-things and digital analytics overlay, to integrate physical and systems infrastructures, and enable higher-level city performance.


IoT India Magazine: Would you like to highlight if Gaia smart cities has partnered/ is partnering with other countries to bring in new technologies in India?

SC: Gaia has proprietary technologies including devices and analytics software. We are also partnering with organizations and universities in India and overseas to bring other technologies and design concepts to the cities we work with.


IoT India Magazine: What are the recent projects that Gaia is working on?

SC: Gaia is working with businesses in monitoring production and logistics processes and with cities on monitoring service levels and citizen sentiments. Smart IT, communications and internet of things technologies bring transparency, generate operational data, manage costs and enable performance improvement.


IoT India Magazine: How soon can we see Indian cities with the tag of smart city? What are the major obstacles in the current scenario to achieve it?

SC: Government of India is looking at a dashboard of ‘smart’ cities – from Greenfield developments to creating layers or pools of smartness within existing cities. Smartness has been defined not just by cutting edge technologies, but by providing adequate services for all citizens – from electricity, water and waste management to internet of things and analytics enabled smart mobility solutions.

The principle of ‘incrementalism’ articulated by the Ministry of Urban Development envisions a reality where a smart city influences the life of every citizen. It aims to provide basic services like clean drinking water or effective technology enabled waste management for each individual in every part of the city.

It also considers areas of high-tech information and communication technologies (ICT) and internet of things (IOT) enabled services, as well as a holistic integration of every facet of citizen life to maximize citizen experience. This “incrementalism” vision of the Indian government and this way of looking at “smartness” ensures that no citizen is left behind in provision of basic services, while allowing for pockets of high-tech smartness embedded in city service or governance which can then be expanded over the years.

The challenges exist at multiple levels. First, cities are looking at ways of financing these smart cities projects. Secondly, cities need to look at integrated planning, design and implementation to ensure that all functions of the city ecosystem work seamlessly. Thirdly, many smart cities initiatives will be adopted only when citizens change their habits or participate in the process and hence will require awareness to trigger behaviour change.


IoT India Magazine: Are you associated with the government’s smart city mission in any way?

SC: Gaia leverages technology to enable cities to deliver new services, monitor and improve operational efficiencies for existing services, develop citizen engagement and feedback platforms and improve overall quality of life for citizens.

Gaia has worked with 14 cities in preparing their Smart Cities Challenge proposals and provided ICT and network strategy as part of the city infrastructure vision. Of these, 8 cities have been selected among the 60 whose plans have been approved by the government. In the next stage of the Smart Cities Mission, Gaia is working with a few cities as part of the Program Management Unit and an implementation partner.


IoT India Magazine: How do you see the future of Smart Cities in India?

SC: Given the strong and sustained drive of the government to transform city functions and services, and to look at it in an integrated manner, cities are bound to improve. But city SPV officials will need to ensure they create end to end solutions that considers the perspective of the three key stakeholders – the government, service providers and citizens.


IoT India Magazine: Would you like to add anything?

SC: Innovative new technologies for smart cities are being developed by nimble startups in India. Government should create regulatory frameworks that allow cities to engage with Indian startups and MSME firms to source unique solutions.

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Srishti Deoras
Srishti currently works as Associate Editor at Analytics India Magazine. When not covering the analytics news, editing and writing articles, she could be found reading or capturing thoughts into pictures.

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