Promote New Collaboration Models in Smart Cities: Dura-Line India

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Multiple human touch points lead to inefficiencies, wastage of time, money and resources. The way forward would be to actively promote new collaboration models involving the state, local bodies and private sector for provisioning of shared duct infrastructure in municipalities, rural areas and national highways, says Gaurav Mohan, Managing Director, Dura-Line India, in conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).

Which key areas of the economy Dura-Line India is focusing on to fuel its growth?

The High-density polyethylene (HDPE) market is witnessing exponential growth. There is a noticeable upsurge in urbanisation that’s increasing the need for telecommunication connectivity. Consequently, there is an increased demand for HDPE pipes.

The industry verticals driving the economy can be categorised into telecom, power, transport, building and infrastructure to name a few.

HDPE ducts are predominantly used for transmission in the power sector. Renewable energy sector is also growing rapidly because of favourable government policies focusing on clean energy generation.

Railways is another segment where railway paths are increasingly getting used for long haul fiber broadband connections as well as long haul cargo transportation. Railroad crossings and yards use fiber to activate signals and to move containers and track cars.

How is ‘Digital India’ helping the company in terms of creating opportunities?

In order to realise the true potential of Digital India, it’s extremely important to work together and strengthen the broadband backbone for the digital highways to ride on. Availability of high-speed broadband in rural areas is super critical for ensuring the success of Digital India dream.

Government initiatives like BharatNet, Smart Cities and StartupIndia have set up the right foundation for data proliferation and created multiple revenue streams for Dura-line.

Society’s dependence on high-speed, low latency broadband network will further fuel the demand for conduits as pathways for connectivity.

Out of 100 Smart Cities, which ones do you see performing well in terms of progress of infrastructure projects?

The smart city mission is project-based and doesn’t offer an integrated urban development paradigm. It can be categorised into two broad divisions. The first one is area-based development wherein chosen cities undertake the redevelopment of existing business districts. This includes developing new commercial hubs, public spaces and upgrading infrastructure.

The second division is pan-city development that deploys smart solutions essentially with the use of technology across the entire city. The practical aspect of this may include citywide CCTV-monitored central command systems, electronic tracking of government service delivery, online grievance and redressal systems, modernisation of water, waste and energy management systems.

Till last year, only around 20 to 25 per cent of smart city projects were completed because of non-performing ULBs, slow pace of fund generation and long-gestation periods. Rapid developments are noticed in Delhi, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Pune, Hyderabad, Raipur and Aurangabad to name a few.

How do you see the IoT market in the country evolving?

Internet of ThingsAdoption of new technologies like big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and connectivity enabled by Internet of Things (IoT) is dramatically changing the way we work and live. This paradigm shift is consequent to massive growth in wireless connectivity that’s driving directional changes in the concept of standalone industries.

The IoT will see connectivity move beyond smartphones and gadgets to connect billions of devices, vehicles, household appliances, monitors and sensors. Smart and intelligent automation will redefine life in a hyper-connected world.

Smart grids will improve the reach,reliability, security and resilience, easing out the incorporation of renewable energy into the grid and providing for better energy demand management. Intelligent highways and vehicles promise to reduce congestion, reduce accidents, and allow for more capacity out of the roads and highways.

This new system of sensors, networks and M2M is emerging as a major innovation that will be deeply embedded in all aspects of a city. Cross industry application is driving new business models and solutions. It is also supporting economic growth at the back of a vibrant start-up culture and creating new jobs and skills.

What are your short term and long term goals in India?

In short-term, our focus is to maximise our participation space in the smart city vertical, industrial and utility corridors and renewable energy segment by positioning our innovative and valueadded product portfolio of jumbo future path and power ducts. We also wish to actively propagate the concept of micro technology in India by educating and sharing knowledge with builders and Infrastructure developers.

As part of our long-term goal, we are focusing on fiber optic sensing that monitors a fiber optic cable from a single location via pulses of light traveling down the fiber. The system can handle sensing and regular communication needs of monitoring pipeline conditions, leaks, unauthorised access, heat trace monitoring, power cables, etc.

What are the key challenges Dura-line India has been facing in the smart city ecosystem?

The smart-city proposals are conceptualised by renowned consultants with financial plans worked out in advance. However, most urban local bodies are still struggling to generate the required funds. The policies of the state governments are not aligned with the central guidelines which delays the roll out. Lack of well-defined processes, regulatory permissions and approval mechanisms both during the award of contract and the execution stage of the project adversely impacts the project timelines.

Multiple government personnel are currently tasked to approve the same sections of deployment. Multiple human touch points lead to inefficiencies, wastage of time, money and resources.

Way forward would be to actively promote new collaboration models involving the state, local bodies and private sector for provisioning of shared duct infrastructure in municipalities, rural areas and national highways. Deployment of common telecom infrastructure during construction of new highways, roads and civil infrastructure should be considered.

Government should embrace and implement path-breaking policies like ‘Dig Once and Dig Safe’ which would help reduce public inconvenience, operational costs, traffic hazards and pollution.

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