Friday, March 2, 2018

Transport Technology in New Town

Three electric buses have been delivered recently in New Town. These are procured jointly by Hidco and Coal India. These are air-conditioned, 32 seaters and have special charging stations at AA3 Bus Terminus, Pride Hotel Building Bus Terminus in AA1 and near Eco Urban Village at AA2. A committee with Hidco, NKDA and a representative of PVD (Public Vehicles Directorate) have been formed to suggest routes and timings where these buses would run. Initially, no fares would be levied during the trial runs, and the objective is to give a connectivity in certain pockets where buses don't reach and residents are dependent on totos and autos. I think of the inter-terminal coach services between the airport terminals in Delhi and other places. The buses have got safety certificates from ARA  (Automobile Research Association of India) at Pune and are awiting registration with PVD in Kolkata. Of course, the range of travel (150km on one charge), charging time safe speed, driver-helper shifts and other factors will have to be considered by the committee.

New AC Electric Buses in New Town
Recently, representatives of Zoomcars discussed with us the possibility of introducing self-driven electric vehicles on a public hiring scheme. Quite like the GPS tagged Apps driven public shared bicycles that are already in operation in New Town, the idea is to have driver-less rent-an-electric-vehicle (like e2o ) using apps. Of course, one has to register beforehand and have driving licence that will have to be scanned and uploaded and approved before registration on-line is approved. Public charging points will help take the matter forward as the EVs will have to be kept charged.

Recently, representatives of Pratt & Whitney discussed with us the possibility of having electric three wheelers on a shareable basis roughly like an Ola/Uber. Locating a local site for charging stations of 150 such eTotos is an area they are looking to solve, they informed. I suggested time sharing in existing parking lots near Axis Mall / Home Town etc where the eTotos could be charged during 10pm-6am on payment of a fee.

New Town Dockless Bi-Cycle Sharing (watch video)

Meanwhile, PEDL, who is operating the public cycle sharing scheme in New Town is looking at expanding to Sector 5 Salt Lake while Bike Taxis which are operating in New Town and Salt Lake are looking at expanding to KMC area. Also, at NKDA we have taken a decision that all paid parking areas would be slowly integrated with Apps and digital sensors (ultrasound or magnetic induction) so that car users would know in advance the availability of parking spaces, NKDA would be able to cross verify the quantum of revenues collected and discount pricing through intelligent software at the back-end could free up spaces taken up on roads at least during off-peak hours.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Institute For Future Cities: "Light As a Service"

Ms Manjari Chakraborty (Br DHC), Dr Richard Bellingham, me, Robert Rogerson, Debapriya Biswas,
Debjit Ganguly: Yesterday (28 Feb 2018) at Hidco

Daniel Broby, joining in from Glasgow, Scotland over Skype
At last BGBS, we from NKDA had signed an MoU with the University of Strathclyde's Institute of Future Cities. Yesterday, we had a detailed meeting at Kolkata with Dr Bellingham, Director of the Institute of Future Citiesand Robert Rogerson Deputy Director for Institute of Future Cities. Daniel Broby and George Pasky joined in from Glasgow, Scotland, UK over Skype. It was snowing in Sctland and weather was harsh and the connectivity wasn't very good. but we managed. Dr Robert is doing work on Blockchain and time stamping of blocks while the second professor is doing work on geothermal energy.

We decided to collaborate on several areas such as renewable energy, fintech and data observatory.

In renewable energy, the concept of 'light as a service' was discussed where the lifetime costs for illuminating streets could be lowered using geothermal  and solar energy as supplements, efficient light accessories, controlling level of illumination by smart controls, waste to energy, multitasking street poles for data connectivity, pollution monitoring and innovation district.

In Fintech, fast broadband access, large capacity local servers and blockchain stratups using the Institute's atomic clock for time stamping the blocks could be looked at.

In Data Observatory, a Centre of Observation in Kolkata was discussed, using public cycles and buses to monitor air quality parameters among other things.

A scoping memorandum would be proposed by Dr Bellingham shortly based on which future collaboration would be founded.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Calendar on Emerging Technology Workshops

Yesterday I was in Santiniketan. I visited the IT Park where a certificate course is going on, being conducted by NIELIT.
I interacted with the trainees. Most were from Tier 3 towns of Rampurhat / Bolpur. I asked them if anyone knew some coding like C+ or Java. Few raised their hands. Some had also done some mobile apps programming. I asked all to learn coding while they were still young if they wanted to be in the IT field for careers.

I informed them that WIL, on behalf of State Govt, was already conducting introductory 5-day on Start-Ups throughout their 100 plus district units. Some inputs would be given here too at IT Park Santiniketan. I asked them to think creatively: Santiniketan's handicrafts and Bolpur's / Rampurhat's / Tarapith's Totos / Rickshaws could be co-ordinated through Uber-Ola-like apps that could be homegrown by the trainees' start-ups. I suggested that digital marketing could be an area where small groups in small towns could also be profitable.

In the afternoon, as I was waiting at Bolpur Railway Station for returning by Kanchanjangha Express, two trainees came up to me and said that they had been thinking and they thought that the idea f digital marketing was great and they would work upon it. I assured them that some inputs were given to them in their present course too: I talked to the Course-coordinator too. While on the train, I requested IT Department's Honorary Advisor Mr Ambarish Dasgupta to give me a concept note on how govt may make digital marketing as a career option for the districts in Bengal. He has agreed.

At the State Level, we plan to have a series of workshops organised by the IT&E Department to usher in a proper eco-system in emerging trends in IT. So far we have fixed the calendar for the next quarter. This is as follows:

1. 16th March 2018: Workshop on Cyber Security
2. 13th April 2018 :  Workshop on Blockchain
3. 18th May 2018: Workshop on Artificial Intelligence

(Some of the other areas that we will work on for the next quarters would be Embedded Software and Technology, Animation & Gaming, Fintech, AI driven Digital Marketing, Face Recognition etc.)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Cybercrime as a Course in colleges

I was in the Jhargram Administrative meeting yesterday where Hon'ble Chief Minister held meeting of all administrative matters and where all senior secretaries of the government and many ministers were present along with DM, SP and other officers of Jhargram district.

In course of the meeting Hon'ble CM asked Higher Education Department to introduce courses on Cyber-crime so that students would stand a good chance of  getting jobs in the police department and elsewhere. After the meeting, on the way out, I spoke to Secretary of Education Department and said that IT&E Department could help them frame the syllabus as we were already working on this and other fronts within the new Centre of Excellence on Cyber Security. This is based on the assessment by the CoE (Centre of Excellence) that skills at entry, middle and senior levels on cyber-security and digital forensics were in scarcity and commanded high remuneration. And that with increasing digitization of all aspects of our lives, the chance of cyber vulnerabilities would also increase manifold. Furthermore, not unlike physical warfare or actual crimes, the defence must be internal to the states' own set-up, almost a sovereign function which cannot be delegated easily. As such, the intervention to introduce education on a broad scale on cybercrime, cybersecurity, digital forensics etc is indeed a step very well directed and timely.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


I am in Delhi today (returning today) to attend the meeting of the Search-cum-selection committee constituted by MHRD (Ministry of Human Resources) for the post of Director of IIIT at Kalyani.

The IIIT Kalyani is like the other 15 IIITs constituted by an Act of the Parliament with shares and partnerships among MHRD, DoIT&E (State Govt) and Industry Partners. For Bengal, the Industry Partners are Coal India and Roltas.

Today's meeting was a marathon meeting where Directors of 7 IIITs are being recommended.

In the morning, I went to MeITY to invite MeITY officers for our forthcoming workshop on Cybersecurity on 16th March.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

OYOs and Totos in New Town: The Economy of Pooling

While compiling data for the freshly launched "New Town Info Book", I discovered that there are 19 OYO Rooms in New Town. I will hold a meeting with them on 28th February 2018 not only to see that they are complying with all rules (Trade Licence etc) but to also understand this sector and help them. Because, this is part of the great sharing economy: OLA, Uber, AirBnB, and now, New Town's own Dockless Bicycle sharing scheme by PEDL. In fact we want to encourage this sector and already the IT Deptt is handholding a start-up who won the State Hackathon recently, that will give an Apps to Totos and Autos for shared paratransit options.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Planning Cities the Future Way

We have already coined the phrase "New Town - the New Future" in many of the digital communications . An example:

In New Town there are dockless GPS controlled public bicycles, bike taxis, public hotpots, Wi Fi Enabled Biswa Bangla Sarani of 10 km length, LED street bulbs with auto-timers to switch on and off, SCADA enabled Water Treatment Plant, New Town's own Citizen Connect Social Network, Induction Loop controlled light saving mode in street lights where one third poles switch off after 10pm when no care move, mobile charging USB ports on each chair n the main huge auditorium of Biswa Bangla Convention Centre, an Optical Fibre Duct Newtwork throughout the city and plans to introduce blockchain based loyalty tokens to tourists. Now Hidco is also designing the Gitabitan Township in Bolpur: work is going on in full swing.
And now a recent decision has been taken entrusting Hidco to plan the 60 acre Sports City in Howrah, only few kilometres away from Nabanna. Work has started and survey is on. Regulations laid down under the Town and Country Planning Act, the UDFI norms, the IGBC Green City Norms,  the Township Policy of State Govt and all the experience of New Town Rajarhat will be infused into the planning of the new Sports City.