Interview

‘We Help Cities Modernise’

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Vineet Kshirsagar
Sr Director & Group Head – Government Business, Oracle

With a tech-friendly government determined to push for smart cities, we should expect a completely new India over the next decade, says Vineet Kshirsagar in an interaction with ENN

How would you define a smart city?

According to UN statistics, over two-thirds of the population will be urban dwellers by 2050. Urban capabilities do not depend solely on hard infrastructure; knowledge communication and social infrastructure have begun to play a pivotal role in creating an urban eco-system. The concept of ICT-aided smart cities has been devised in this background. The current global economic downturn, fluctuations in tax bases and unfunded mandates have created severe budget constraints on local governments. True leaders in government and community organisations know that real integrated intelligence requires integration of government and constituents, a prerequisite for a city to become truly smart. These leaders recognise that city governments must establish clear policies that can be implemented as automated and streamlined processes. This requires changes to culture, organisations and the way technology is used by government and constituents. It also requires integration of the multitude of channels through which citizens and business communicate with government.

In which segments of a smart city do you offer technologies?

Businesses and citizens require efficient and intelligent platform to interact and engage with their local authorities or administration. Oracle’s Solutions for Smart Cities, which is based on our experience with local government as customers, and best-in-class technology and applications, enables governments to do the following:

Smart Innovation – Resolves up to 90 percent (or more) of most government service requests through integrated mul tichannel services, including self-service Web/chat; local single numbers such as 311, 1823, 133, 115; Facebook; Twitter; e-mail, and so on

Smart Processes – Analyse and streamline key areas—service delivery, infrastructure expenditures, constituent feedback, and others—to determine which services to prioritise, extend, consolidate, or even discontinue

Smart Infrastructure – Modernise IT infrastructure to enable integration and interoperability with the city’s existing siloed legacy IT infrastructure and embedded intelligence into city infrastructure to enhance service delivery.

Oracle has successfully supported local governments by developing and implementing innovative products to fortify their public services mission. Oracle iGovernment is in conjunction with our vision of the future of public sector with respect to ICT (Information, Computerls and Telecommunications).

“The new government has plans to bring about complete transformation. With 100 new smart cities planned…we should expect to see a completely new India over the next decade”

Which Indian projects have you lent your expertise in and where do those stand now?

We have done a significant amount of work in India. While smart cities is a relatively new concept and initiative in India, we are working on providing the best infrastructure to modernise multiple cities. In India, we have worked with almost all states in one aspect or the other. Delhi Jal Board Revenue and Billing, power-grid projects in Gujarat, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, and taxation departments in Punjab and Haryana are only some such examples.

Globally, Oracle has been helping multiple governments modernise and transform their delivery of citizen sources. By developing a better technology infrastructure, India can leapfrog to the level that developed economies like the US are at in terms of government services delivery.

What are the drivers and barriers for smart city development in India?

India ranks 68th out of 144 countries according to the 2013 Networked Readiness Index, compiled by the World Economic Forum for its Global Information Technology Report. This report ranks economies based on their capacity to exploit the opportunities offered by the digital age. Despite the fact that India has a considerable low level of willingness towards the adoption of technologies compared to other countries, we see an extremely high level of potential.

With the recent changes in the political arena, there has been an increased focus on modernising departments and evolving citizen-centric services. On the bedrock of the digital age, governments are recognising the role of ICT in driving growth. This new environment is leading to a fundamental shift in customer expectations. These expectations are increasing the pressure on government to perform rapidly and meticulously. Today, governments are laying roadmaps for shaping a better future which opens the doors of opportunity.

Governments are looking at building an integrated, efficient and transparent service delivery platform across all programmes covering all services delivered to businesses, citizens and municipal employees. Oracle provides public-sector leaders with a complete, open and integrated suite of applications, servers and storage solutions engineered to work together to optimise every aspect of government operations.

How has been your Indian experience, and how would you describe the future of smart city development in India?

Oracle has been in India since 1987. For the past 27 years, we have been investing and expanding in this country. We have grown here from strength to strength and realise the importance this country holds for businesses across the globe. It would not have been possible for us to not only survive but thrive in this country unless India offered great opportunities. We have had a successful run till date and intend to continue this in the future, too.

The new government has plans to bring about transformation. With 100 new smart cities planned, it only goes on to show the potential this space has and how India will evolve in the next few years. If things go as planned, we should expect to see a completely new India over the next decade.

Do you feel some policy-related changes are required to fast track the concept in India?

As a developing economy and with times changing fast, some tweaking of policies is always required. Smart cities is high up on the agenda of the new government, which has been riding the development wave. Therefore, we are confident that wherever policy changes are required, they will be made and implemented.

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