Cities are becoming moretechnology enabled. And, with citizens having access to real time data, data-driveneffective  decision making has become thekey to lessen the pressure on a city’s resources, Vishal Mehra, Vice Presidentand Director, iRAM Technologies tells Shashidhar


Howdo you see the cities of the  futureshaping up?

Cities are becomingmore and more  technology enabled, whichis going to support local administration to be proactive towards citizenconvenience. From traditional structures, to more evolved, modern cities areadopting newage technologies, such as IoT and others, for shaping up to befuture ready. The future is going to be revolutionized by smart IoT frameworks.Traffic management, Parking, Waste Management, Energy management, and securitywill just be a few domains that smart cities will add to our lives. Automaticprocesses created by these  technologiesare going to replace thereactive or personality driven approach.


Whyshould we be thinking about digital adoption in context of urban living when itcomes to the solutions that you offer?

Urban living is notthe same anymore. It has changed drastically and now the citizen has access toreal-time data because of digitalisation and smart technologies. Data-driveneffective decision-making is key to lesser pressure on a city’s resources whilecitizen convenience is well taken care of.One of best examples could be derivedfrom smart parking use case. It has given data in hands of citizen throughsmart parking applications. A citizen can check parking availability in advanceand even can reserve and pay for parking online. But, in case parking is notavailable, an insightful citizen can make quick decision to change the mode oftransport from personal car to taxi or public transport.


Whatis the potential that iRAM is  looking at– market-wise – that has prompted the company to offer solutions in theseverticals?

Smart city verticalhas huge potential and  expected to growat a phenomenal pace. Various market research reports have  estimated the overall market size for smartcity solutions in India to be around US$23.6-bn for FY 2020 with growth  potential up to US$45-bn in FY 2024. iRAM’saddressable domain out of this overall big number is around US$1.53-bn in FY2020 with a potential of US$2.97- bn in FY 2024. Now, it depends on various capabilitiesof Indian companies like iRAM and others (including our competitors) to grab asmuch as possible out of this number. There is good opportunity for variousplayers.


iRAM’ssolutions are home grown. In your opinion, on the technology front, howprepared are we to develop tech solutions locally and implement those technologiesin the country?

I feel India has seena lot of adoption in IoT in the past couple of years. With the Government’sdedicated focus on Smart City mission, we hope to deploy our solutions in moreand more cities. This is a huge opportunity for Indian companies like iRAMprovided we convert this opportunity and situation to our advantage. Indian IoTcompanies have tremendous technological potential which, if combined withapproach to offer customised India-centric solution,

can give us edge.Side by side, we must be agile enough to lead in this customised approachvis-à-vis our Global competitors.


Towhat extent has it been a challenge for government bodies/municipalities toaccept and adopt the solutions that you have when there are abundant competingsolutions available from across the globe to choose from?

We are now offeringsolutions in more than 10 smart cities in India. We are geared up to add anotherhalf a dozen smart city logos in this financial year.  We have seen various repeat orders fromleading smart city system integrators. This clearly indicates acceptance of oursolutions by smart city corporations and system integrators. Our latest featurerich solutions and customised offerings to suit Indian cities are working forus.


Wouldyou throw light on some of the Smart City projects that you are involved with?

iRAM has been able tointroduce its  various solutions viz.Smart Street lighting, Smart environment monitoring stations, smart poles, andsmart parking in Kanpur, Bhubaneshwar, Dahod, Kohima, Rajkot, Pimpri Chinchwad,among other cities and towns. All these solutions are based on advanced IoTarchitecture. This has given us vertical leadership in Smart Sensor WirelessNetwork (SSWN) domain and On-premise Smart parking cloud for city widedeployments. With current on-going deployment, we would be touching 10,000+ smart s e n s o r d e p l o y m e n t s . Additionally, close to 200+ Municipal Parkingsites are now connected to our eParke RealParking Premise cloud.


Consideringthe length and breadth of the country, with each city/municipality offering itsown unique challenges, to what extent did you have to adapt to changingdemands?

As said earlier,Customisation is key to success in this vertical. Not just India– centric smartelements but city specific smart elements/solutions are required. We have to beagile to adapt and offer these customisations to be in mindspace in thisvertical.


Whois going to pay for this transformation that we are seeing in urban living?  If you look at an advanced country likeGermany, for example, the local body municipalities are finding it increasinglydifficult to fund the transformation that the concept like Smart Citiesrequires. Do you see acceptance levels high in a country like India?

You are right, thesentiments of the people need to be considered, and whether they are ready fordiverse change in this regard. Technological intervention cannot be forced fromday one, but can be rolled out in a phased manner to gain adaption. As of now, wehave not seen major disruption on behalf of citizens. But, then, we have notrolled out smart solutions in full swing as in Germany or America. For example,in our smart parking solutions, many cities were earlier planning to roll outfully automated, un-manned and cashless payment systems from day one. Thesesystems are prevalent in European and American cities. While our solutions arefully

automated,contactless and also cashless (to contribute to governments Digital paymentmandate), still we gave our advice to go hybrid to start with and keepintroducing new features in a phased manner.


Withtechnology constantly evolving,  howcost-effective is it to scale it to the next level, to constantly implement oronboard newer technology?

This is one of thebiggest challenges in  upcomingtechnologies like IoT wherein standards, protocols are evolving. However, ourengineering has developed products which are forward/backward compatible. Also,we are NB-IoT ready, which is the latest standard. We started with Zigbee andnow offer both Zigbee and LORA-based IoT solutions.


And,what about data security, which is of realistic concern in today’s digitalworld?

People feel thatsince smart solutions employ a lot of records, there is a question of privacyand security of personal data. However, smart initiatives actually go a longway in making our personal data more secure. Rest assured, all information isstored in protected Smart City corporations Data Centre environments. TheseData Centres are equipped with most advanced security devices, like Firewalls,etc.


Whatabout resilience of the software solutions to constantly changing situations? Howdynamic is the technology?

Advantage of workingwith iRAM is strength in hardware engineering and software development both.All these software solutions are in-house and as shared earlier, we designsolutions keeping Indian conditions, much needed customisations, andscalability in mind.


Whatare some of the common barriers to the adoption of technology anddigitalisation?

Primarily, it is allabout resistance to change. Acceptance of technology by citizens of smartcities is a key element,  while the usersi.e., officials of local administrations, must adapt to capitalize the benefitsof Technology deployment.


Howis iRAM working towards adopting cloud services in India to further its growth?

All our applicationsare private and public cloud ready. While most of our smart city deploymentshave been in private cloud environment, we have recently launched our eParke RealParking Cloud Platform. This is an exhaustive Multi-Tenanted platform.  Through public cloud model, we plan to bringbig cost advantage to parking owners while offerings host of benefits toparking owners and their customers. These benefits and features are otherwise notpossible in conventional  premise-basedsoftware approach.  The entire parkingbay inventory

data, secured accesscontrol, Ticketing and Billing, Payment gateways, Portals, user databases,reports and dashboards, field device provisioning  can be available on iRAM eParke RealParkingPublic cloud. Parking owners get benefit of getting exhaustive smart cityarchitecture platform at ‘pay as you go’ basis for their Malls,

Commercial buildings,etc., while their customers enjoy benefits of advance  parking availability information, onlinereservations, payments, etc., through their mobile application.


Thecompany has received its first  seedfunding. How will the fundinghelp in growing your business? And, when can weexpect series B funding?

iRAM has receivedtheir first seed fundingfrom Inspira Enterprise – a global  IT Solution Provider (www.inspiraenterprise. com) in March2018. It has supported us to develop our current range of solutions andofferings. Additionally, it provided us means to expand our business in India.Since then, we bagged many projects to develop Public Smart Parking and othersolutions in different parts of the country. Provided all goes as per plan and currentGlobal situation permits, we expect to see Series ‘B’ fund in place in FY 2020.Series ‘B’ funding will furtherboost the growth momentum at iRAM and majorlyfund our further development and positioning of eParke RealParking CloudPlatform Globally to prospective customers and appropriate channels and serviceproviders.


We are looking at around `200-crores by the end of this year
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