Part 2: ‘We are building the foundation of a smart city’

|February 14, 2017 0

Krishna Mukherjee

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise was cherry picked as the communications and networking solutions provider for the world’s best smart city through the GIFT project with Newgen. In an interaction with CIOL, Dirk Dumortier, VP-Sales Enablement, APAC, ALE and Prasath Rao – Territory Manager- India, ALE, talk about the road covered and some of the challenges.

What’s happening around smart cities presently?

Dirk Dumortier: At APAC level–yes, there is much going on with respect to the smart cities. We are ready to define it as well. One needs to be very careful about what is a smart city. So, for us, since we are in the realm of communication and networking, we are building the foundation of a smart city on top of that. We are not the people who would do e-governance or application, but we make sure that implementation of such things become a reality. Our element is the ground work, making sure that the pipes and the tubes are there from which one can have uninterrupted water supply.

We are doing this across Asia Pacific. We have won deals in China and Taiwan this year. A lot many things are happening in Singapore. It is everywhere. Sometimes it is just a city, at times it is more than just the city like in Singapore – country wide.

And now it is coming to India as well. We have a history in witnessing the development of smart cities which goes back to 20 years. If you look back at Belgium and Tokyo, they were the first two digital cities of the world. If the government drives it nicely, it is a great way to bring up the economy of the country and that’s the whole thing behind smart cities – helping the economy. It brings in a smarter way of communication, innovation like internet of things as an element, by innovation you bring in new startups because they would provide the required help of funding and job generation. One needs to give an economical spin to the smart cities. That’s exactly what we have here…

Can we take a leaf out from the global smart cities? What kind of recommendations you may have?

Dirk Dumortier: I always start my conversation about smartdirkdumortier

cities with people; people living in the cities since these are the ones we need to drive ultimately. What do you need as an individual in the city? What are you looking for? You look at the basic elements. We need safety – a safe city for the family where we may walk out at night without being scared. Then we have education for your kids. One has to make sure that there is a good education system in place. So, there are too many elements for smart city that together attract people and investment in any city. As an organization, we are developing a way to communicate by interconnecting all the hospitals, schools and universities, and other elements like that of safety in the city. Like having cameras in the streets that connect you to the police and then police can keep a watch on the city. We are developing internet of things and are connecting and integrating the things together to develop a smart city. So, coming back to your question, we can link it to the human needs. If you are able to do so, you succeed. If we are not covering the people and the need of the city, you are gone.

Once you have all the aspects–education, health and safety–people start coming. The people start making it their business and make it complex. If we have the basic said elements, investment comes. We have seen it in Belgium and in other places about what does it take for people to start their own business? You need to go to 20 other agencies before you get the stamp from the government; you are already tired before even starting to do the business. That’s where the government needs to help and when we have all the elements of a smart city covered, there is business.

Prasath Rao: Just to add on, I think it is not the issue of smartness, I think we as Indians are already over smart. So, the main leaf that you need to take from the global smart cities set up, if you ask me is it the political willingness. In terms of technology, adoption of technology there is no challenge in India. Look at the metros; we have beautiful world class metros here. In India perspective we lead the transportation vertical here. If we look at whole of APAC region as well, I think 90% of metros are running on our network. And adding on to his point the most important element of the smart city is its foundation. Once the foundation is strong, we can run as many applications on it as we want. And that’s why wherever technology matters, we have positioned ourselves very well. Be it defense or metros. For me it has always been a surprise element. The way government runs the KYCs for us, nobody does as of now even the corporate. How a smart city functions actually is by having large integrators who would bundle all the pieces together. We are the first piece there which forms the foundation. After a huge selection criterion we step in to build the foundation.

One last question would be about your future plans and ambitions, and we will conclude on that… where do you see Alcatel Lucent in the year 2017?

Dirk Dumortier: If we want to be successful in 2017 what we must deliver is the new organization in place and show the growth sings in the verticals we have selected. We are not expecting 30% growth on everything, but we are looking in that direction. From the verticals point of view, that’s what we are looking at in 2017.

If you look into the SMB and the cloud or whatever is there the digital transformation is taking off. I spoke about OPSO Connect, Rainbow and Cloud here. We will be successful when it takes off.

The last element is linked to Rainbow; we were speaking about integrated banking applications in healthcare and hospitality etc that’s where we are investing together with the services organization that we have.

If we have these three, we are good.

Prasath Rao: The most important element is to educate our partners as much as we can.

Read Part 1 of the interview here…

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