Social Innovations for High-Tech Cities: Srinivas Rao

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Srinivas Rao, Sales Director-Government Sector, Hitachi Data Systems

With the 100 Smart Cities project announced by the Government of India hogging the limelight, the corporate world has pitched in help convert this dream project into reality. Srinivas Rao, Sales Director- Government Sector, Hitachi Data Systems, speaks about the plans his company has for this venture with Nirmal Anshu Ranjan of Elets News Network (ENN)

What will be your role in the proposed ‘100 Smart Cities’ project of the Government?

Hitachi Data Systems believes in connecting business and society through technology. We are looking at growth opportunities in the 100 Smart Cities campaign in India for our social innovation solutions, and we are working with the Government and ecosystem players to make the Smart Cities project and the Digital India vision a success.

The Smart Cities project will bring in tons of structured and unstructured data from across various governmental departments, and there is a need of timely agile data analysis and management. Also, there is an increased importance of efficient storage solutions to store, process and manage data in a meaningful manner and translate these into real-time benefits.

Social innovation is Hitachi Data Systems’ holistic approach to help businesses and societies address the challenges and opportunities being sparked by the seismic shifts occurring across today’s business, technology and cultural landscapes. HDS uniquely combines its deep domain expertise in information management, data analytics and IT and the rich industrial heritage of our Hitachi sister companies to deliver on its vision for social innovation.

Our social innovation solutions include verticals like automotive, power, railway systems, water management, and consumer durables. The newest vertical to be added to social innovation solutions list is healthcare, which HDS introduced recently in APAC region. It comes as no surprise that all these social innovation solutions by HDS are cloud based.

How can we improve various sectors like education, healthcare among others by transforming a normal city into a Smart City?

Hitachi Data Systems is uniquely positioned to help societies and businesses solve some of the world’s biggest problems – from public safety to sustainability, transportation and healthcare. HDS calls this social innovation.

Hitachi has implemented solutions like traffic management, water management, smart grids, electric vehicles’ charging management, and low carbon infrastructures in several cities including Greater Manchester, New Mexico and Hawaii. The firm has also tasted some early success in India and is already working in Dahej city in Gujarat where it is creating low carbon, environmental-friendly infrastructure. Further, it is doing some power and water management projects in the country as well.

Smart cities entail lots of electronic and digital applications. How can we guard these applications and devices from cyber threats?

IT will play a major role in developing smart cities in India. In order to guarantee service continuity and integrity, the ICT systems that oversee and control a ‘smart city’ need to be designed, from inception, with cyber security, robustness, reliability, privacy, information integrity, and crucially, resilience in mind.

This drives the need to create an ecosystem of ICT vendors, energy suppliers, building companies, health providers and education bodies; all engaged in providing state-of-the-art solutions in every field.

In order to equip themselves for this transition and ensure the appropriate level of security and resilience of systems, cities will need to manage ICT leadership and governance, strong processes, people’s mindsets and robust technology. By conceiving interconnected urban systems with security and information protection in mind, city administrators will be able to ensure safety and well being for citizens and businesses alike.

How will the Smart Cities project boost the Indian economy and attract investors from across the globe?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government has recently launched 100 Smart Cities initiative by pledging over $1.2 billion in investment to this effort over the next year. The investment in each Smart City is estimated to be in excess of $10 billion, presenting a tremendous economic growth opportunity. This is expected to not only change the urban landscape of the entire country but would also give an impetus to the economy.

In India, given its demographics and diversity, unique opportunities exist for developing “smarter” cities which attract increased investment, employ innovative technology, create environmentally sustainable solutions, grow operational efficiencies, and improve the lives of urban citizens.

The development of India’s Smart Cities project will act as a necessary catalyst for economic growth of the country through a number of significant drivers including increased FDI inflow, increased competitiveness and job creation across industries.

The Government has already created the momentum and has come up with the clear policy document, which it has opened for the private sector. So, it is a big initiative that has been taken from the government itself. In addition to it, there are a lot of private organisations too that are showing very keen interest in participating in the Smart Cities project.

How do you plan to expand your presence in the Indian market?

The Indian market has been a key contributor to the Hitachi Data Systems global business and is one of the fastest growing markets in the region. India is the second largest market for data center infrastructure with in the Asia Pacific region, and it is also going to be the second fastest growing market in Asia Pacific in 2015. We see the next five years to be promising for us from a business standpoint.

In India, we are focusing on BFSI, IT & ITeS, telecom, media & entertainment, government sector among others. With this rapidly changing marketplace, we not only transform our business, but we must be constantly evaluating our partner ecosystem. We must design it in such a way to create the right coverage for success: across business size, customer requirements, geography, vertical market competencies and solutions, and desired customer business outcomes.

With the Government of India opening up a variety of projects under the Digital India campaign, we expect demand to come in from various eGovernance projects. Additionally, Indian enterprises will focus on creating integrated data centers for optimising existing IT assets and delivering non-stop IT services to business. This will drive greater emphasis on public cloud and software-defined networking, and will drive demand for smarter and more secure storage infrastructure and data management systems.

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