Autodesk Inc, one of the major design software making players, sees an array of opportunities in the 100 Smart Cities initiative. Pradeep Nair, Managing Director, Autodesk (India), in conversation with Prathiba Raju of Elets News Network (ENN) talks about the scope of the project
What is your take on the 100 Smart Cities project?
Don’t be a purist about what Smart Cities would mean, don’t expect that in the next five years Ajmer would turn into Singapore. The government is formulating policies and it provides industry players a framework and intent to make our cities look smart. It is a good opportunity for industries and government to evolve. This is what is necessary and interesting to us. Such initiatives by the governments give the industry confidence to explore opportunities, as we believe that such projects would remain for a longer run. The government is clear in their policy formation and it’s up to the industry to respond. The results come when we execute. A real transformation will take time. It is not an easy task, we have multilayered governments, funding challenges and skill challenges. But there is a policy framework, so it’s now time for the industries’ participation. One firm or company probably cannot give all the solutions; we need partnerships, consortiums coming up.
What are the challenges and opportunities ULBs face in 100 Smart Cities initiative?
It is both a challenge and an opportunity for ULBs. With the 100 Smart Cities project, a lot of PPPs will be done in various civic projects. Lot of IT professionals and firms like Wipro, TCS are bringing in unique technologies to address civic issues like sewage treatment, smart water metering, etc. There is significant work happening, especially the citizen services are available online. State governments and ULBs across the country are doing a bunch of things. Smart Cities fund of one lakh crore by the Central Government provides impetus for such initiatives. Many mobile apps have come in and there is data available which needs to be harnessed.
What are the challenges in building Smart Cities?
We have to focus on how we can enable this initiative instead of talking about what Smart Cities is all about. Focus should be on how we implement it. For example, Autodesk India tried to put up routers for free Wi-Fi across Varanasi, but the monkeys carried these away, and these are the Indian challenges, which a country like Singapore doesn’t face. We have to think and plan as challenges vary.
How different and useful is the Autodesk 3D plan in 100 Smart Cities initiative?
If you look at building process, it is a core process of a city, but at the same time it’s simple as well. In India, builders submit the drawings and then the government brings proposal and various tiers of government get a fat bunch of file. But in Singapore, it started as a process in 1997, where they made the building process simple. They started with 2D, and three years back they wanted a 3D file instead of 2D, as in 2D drawings, there is no sense of space. Autodesk provides a model, which is efficient enough and the model shows the whole neighborhood and not just a building. It’s a single-window approach for a builder and a developer. In seven days, they get comments from various departments. There is definite interest in many cities to bring in such 3D modelling.