The Right Blend of AI , IoT in Making Smarter Cities

In an exclusive conversation with Faiz Askari of SMEStreet, Amrita Chowdhury is Co-Founder of Gaia explained some key trends in this domain and also highlighted what drives Gaia to catalyse services delivery in Smart cities. Amrita leads Business & Marketing functions at Gaia.

The Right Blend of AI , IoT in Making Smarter Cities

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The concept of service-oriented governance structure is the soul driver smart cities. Where citizens are the prime beneficiaries of the entire smart city concept, their feedback and services delivery holds prime importance ins the success of the smart cities. Gaia helps Smart Sites optimize operations, improve efficiency, reduce costs, and impact business growth and customer experience through tech-enabled solutions. Gaia Smart Feedback platform provides insights-as-a-service, bringing data from users, sensors, and digital channels to get real-time visibility and deep analytics into the last mile. In an exclusive conversation with Faiz Askari of SMEStreet, Amrita Chowdhury is Co-Founder of Gaia explained some key trends in this domain and also highlighted what drives Gaia to catalyse services delivery in Smart cities. Amrita leads Business & Marketing functions at Gaia.

She is responsible for leading the solutions team for Smart Sites and Smart Cities, blending IoT, ICT, AI/ML, and analytics to provide insights. 

Here is an edited excerpt:

How important are smart cities to a developing country like India?

Cities are the crucibles of economic activity. They are living and working spaces for citizens. India has seen massive urbanization and rural to urban migration in the past few decades. Cities also face challenges such as high population density, aging infrastructure, and more. At the same time, citizens expect an improved quality of life and better economic opportunities. Smart city projects bring together initiatives that combine urban development with technology enablement, hence are needed for the critical redesign, development or revitalization of our cities.
“Citizens expect an improved quality of life and better economic opportunities. Smart city projects bring together initiatives that combine urban development with technology enablement, hence are needed for the critical redesign, development or revitalization of our cities.”

How is Gaia relevant to this current situation in the country? 

Gaia brings tech expertise in the area of wide-area technologies. Our full stack of solutions enables monitoring and management of distributed assets and digitalization of government to city services. Collectively these solutions enable cities to manage, monitor and improve the management and governance of city systems and staff or third party vendors. It brings in accountability and, in turn, helps improve the quality of life parameters.

How can the various services by Gaia help in the growth of the country? 

Gaia was a pioneer in bringing IOT based citizen feedback to cities. This solution has been deployed in over 100 cities and Urban Local Bodies across multiple states. Gaia recently repurposed its enterprise service management solution to help Agra Smart City digitalize and automate various Covid19 emergency-related and utility services. This new age e-governance platform connects citizens and city staff and enables real-time response management and AI-led hyper-local service delivery of citizen services. These are enterprise solutions that improve the agility of cities.

Please share an experience of exploring a city that was made a smart city by Gaia?

Gaia has worked with multiple cities in the smart city domain. One of the key recent cities that we worked with is Agra, where our solutions have been recognized for innovation by Smart Cities Mission, MoHUA, NIUA, and even in updates by MoHFW. The critical element is the innovation mindset of the city authorities, and the ability of our solutions to operate at scale. Both need to come together to deliver an impactful solution.
 

What is the future of AI in India? 

AI is critical to bring in the next level of efficiency in every domain. Gaia uses multi-factor AI algorithms in service orchestration and allocation management. We have edge solutions that use artificial neural networks and unsupervised learning for last mile edge inferencing of voice and sound data. We use cognitive AI algorithms for visual pattern detection and fraud management. But speaking at a broader level, India is one of the countries with a deep focus on AI. Government of India just held their global AI conclave, where Gaia Founder Sumit Chowdhury was also one of the speakers on AI solutions for smart cities. There is a huge push towards the inclusion of AI curriculum in colleges and special educational institutions. What’s needed are “makers” who can work at a deeper level to build new solutions. 

How are G2C services can be enhanced using your solutions? 

The next focus of the digital government will be on the seamless and improved delivery of G2C services. Technology is expected to play a role in this digitalization. Gaia solution is a multi-tenanted SaaS platform for service automation. This has applicability in both the enterprise and city domains. Specifically, delivery of G2C services requires the coordination of multiple government and third-party staff. The key challenge is understanding the efficiency and productivity of last-mile, last-minute operations. We provide a unified platform to bring multiple teams and people on a common system, digitalize and automate workflows, enable seamless and responsive delivery of services, and in most scenarios, bring 100 per cent improvement in visibility from the last mile to the Boardroom.

Smart Cities are often known for seamless integration of services, as a technology provider what are your observations on how India can leapfrog on this front?

Indian cities that have already deployed on-ground solutions under the smart city mission are bringing in data from multiple city systems, edge devices, and applications into the central control and command room. As an example, data from traffic systems, security and surveillance systems, environmental monitoring solutions, solid waste management systems and processes, and many others come into the command room. Cities can already visualize service delivery, identify gaps and challenges for each city component. However, the next stage of development will require true interoperability and data-led inferencing to analyze, co-relate, and link data from disparate systems to create a true event-driven city. This is where cloud AI technologies will come to the fore to build responsive and predictive systems for cities. Many cities need to still traverse the first part of the journey in India, whereas a few cities that have successfully implemented solutions over the last five years can move towards the seamless service integration vision.

What are the key opportunities you are witnessing for your business in the smart cities projects?  

As a startup, we are always trying to explore opportunities to showcase our solutions and deliver impact for enterprise or city clients. The critical part is constantly finding partners who can take our solutions into the larger scope projects that they offer to cities. The city procurement processes are tilted towards large organizations; hence as startups, we have to partner with large companies in order to participate. However, from the opportunity perspective, cities are today more open to technology and innovation and realize the benefits of digitalization and automation in creating distinctive solutions that impact citizen perception or cost of operations. This shift in perspective of decision-makers drives the opportunity space for technology businesses in this segment.
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