Ahmedabad Smart City bets big on IoT, AI, Machine Learning

Rakesh Shankar, CEO, Ahmedabad Smart City
Rakesh Shankar, CEO, Ahmedabad Smart City

At Smart City Ahmedabad Development Corporation’s (SCADL) goal is to emancipate the quality of services to citizens, reduce expenses and reduce time to respond to any issues using leading technologies, be it Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning. Rakesh Shankar, CEO, Ahmedabad Smart City, shares more details in an interaction with Express Computer

SCADL tends to get as close as it can to the root cause of problems, draw out necessary patterns by cognitive analytics and figure out a scientific data drive befitting long term solution to these issues. This all will lead it to take governance to the citizens without intermediaries and have maximum citizen connect.

Areas in which IoT is being used
IoT is one of the many key technologies which SCADL has used extensively across various interventions. The use of IoT has led to enhanced situational awareness, sensor-driven decision analytics, optimised resource consumption and instantaneous control and response in complex autonomous systems. At present thousands of IoT devices are connected across the city for following key interventions:

Environment
SCADL is committed to ensure that citizens dwell in a pollution free environment. For the same, it has deployed a number of environment sensors to monitor and act on environmental exigencies. “These sensors are deployed across the city to provide real time ambient environment updates about temperature, light, humidity, PM 2.5 and PM10 levels and issue alerts/warnings in case air quality deteriorates, so that citizens can plan their day accordingly. It also helps us to create pollution related awareness,” informs Rakesh Shankar, CEO, Ahmedabad Smart City.

Waste Management
Cleanliness is one of the most pertinent areas that SCADL focuses on. Using IoT, SCADL has been able to effectively ensure that waste in the city is properly and timely collected and disposed off. Bins fitted with RFID sensors and garbage collection vans fitted with RFID readers and GPS helps keep track of garbage pick-up and in optimising routes of the collection vans. “We have more than 15,000 point of interests and over 1,000 vehicles helping us to keep the city clean,” Shankar comments.

Parking
With rapid motorisation, parking has become a big problem that grapples most of the cities. At SCADL has relied on IoT enabled parking sensors to ensure we create new parking spaces and monitor new and existing parking spaces using technology. Shankar says, “We have also envisaged to ensure that we give the LIVE parking availability across major malls, theaters, public areas, parks to citizens.”

Transit
Urban transit is a vital area where SCADL has extensively used IoT to ensure seamless travel experience for citizens. AMTS and BRTS, Ahmedabad’s transit lifeline carries about 800,000 people every day. SCADL has attempted to redefine the citizen’s journey experience right from ticketing to in-station to in-journey experience using various technologies including IoT. “Using our technology endeavours, citizens can now plan their journey effectively using mobile app and pay using a common open loop card for all the transit services. IoT has helped us to radically redefine the entire Vehicle to Infrastructure transit landscape, leading to effective fleet utilisation and providing us enough data points to take well informed decisions,” informs Shankar.

Lights
Light is a pivotal infrastructure element that a city has to provide to its citizens. With an overwhelming 150,000 light nodes across the city, the management and servicing the same has been a prime area of focus for SCADL. “We have used IoT devices to identify and ensure that we get closer to the problem (pole) and solve the problem effectively. We can now remotely mange (on/off/dim), check status of thousands of lights from a single point using IoT,” he says.

Applications of IoT
As IoT is penetrating deeper into cities, the relevance is becoming unquestionable because of the benefits it is yielding. SCADL is able to get insights which it never used to have previously and thus it is now empowered to take more rational data driven and scientific decisions.  This has significantly improved governance and citizen services’ effectiveness. With help of IoT, not only monitoring and tracking, but also controlling of various systems has become possible. For instance, a garbage collection van’s route can be adjusted if a community bin on another route is about to fill, but could not be serviced because of certain reasons. Another example is, a visitor to a certain area can see availability of parking spaces in the vicinity in advance and book a parking spot for his car.

Following are some of the instances where SCADL anticipates some tangible and intangible RoI:

  • VMD (Variable messaging display) boards are expected to generate significant RoI, so much so that it might cover the operational expense of the entire Safe and Secure Ahmedabad Project
  • Smart Lights: SCADL can now dim the lights at places and at times where no traffic is anticipated or when enough ambient light is there; this is expected to yield effective savings in electricity bills. Also, knowing which node has gone bad, a significant time and resources are saved in identifying root cause
  • Smart parking: Besides helping citizens to plan their journeys better and to book parking spaces (both at closed and open parking spaces) SCADL is expecting to generate good revenue and reduce cash handling
  • Wi-Fi: At present the city is offering an unprecedented Wi-Fi experience to citizens by providing 2 Mbps unlimited connectivity. This will help citizens to stay connected and avail necessary services. This service can also be utilised to generate significant revenue.

Benefits

  • Improved decision making (taking data driven and scientific decisions): With availability of data sets collected from different IoT, and BI tools SCADL can establish nested correlations and take complex decisions, which were not possible earlier
  • Finding root cause analysis: IoT has not only given data, but has taken SCADL closer to the issues and with corresponding data sets, it has led to identify root cause of problems. This has resulted in curtailing expenses
  • Increased productivity (reduction in time to resolve issues): With information about exact problem area, SCADL is now able to respond to citizens more effectively and address them sooner than earlier. This has resulted in improving citizen connect
  • Establishing effective citizen connect: As SCADL is able to effectively manage and resolve issues pertaining to waste, light, water, it is able to establish citizen connect
  • Preventive and proactive maintenance of buses: Since SCADL obtains the driver behavioural and vehicle diagnostic data, it is now able to do preemptive maintenance of the buses and save money on maintenance and bus breakdowns
  • Reduce pilferages: With most of bus ticketing transactions going digital, reliance of cash is reducing, this has led to significant reduction in cash handling charges and subsequently reduced pilferages