India Inc India Inc: Tuesday, 25 August 2015 12:17

Tech Speak with Nitin Dahad - Wireless internet: Bringing India into the digital age

by Nitin Dahad

In a survey conducted by Disney a couple of years ago to illustrate the top 20 bare necessities of life, the internet came out top of the list, ahead of items like a daily shower (number 5), a cup of tea (number 7) and a solid marriage (number 9). The internet, and mobile connectivity, has indeed taken prime place in many people’s lives globally, and India is no exception. There are many grand visions enabled by this connectivity – like smart cities – but non-tech people often find it difficult to understand how it actually impacts their daily lives.

That’s why events that help in relating the technology to real life applications can be useful, to bring better awareness of the impact of the internet. The recent Ericsson & CNN-IBM Networked India competition did just that – just this month, they announced the winners of ‘Networked India 2015’ at New Delhi. The two winning projects, Arterial Pulse Analyzer and ImmunizeIndia, received cash rewards of Rs 500,000 each.

The Arterial Pulse Analyzer is a low cost arterial pulse analyzer which can help clinicians diagnose cardiovascular disease (CVD) cases in a more effective manner as well as automate the process of CVD diagnosis to enable medical camps and mobile medical vans to diagnose CVDs without the need of trained healthcare professionals, especially in a rural setup. The device is a low cost non-invasive diagnostic instrument with onboard analysis being performed on a mobile phone/tablet.

ImmunizeIndia is the world’s largest free sms service to get vaccination reminders for a child. It aims to prevent 500,000 child deaths and disabilities by the end of year 2018.

The other finalists in the competition were Constapark, WiFi Trash Bin, and Helping Faceless. Constapark is a parking on demand solution app which lets users pick and drop cars at the tap of a button anywhere in the service location. WiFi Trash Bin offers free WiFi for people who dispose trash in these bins. It gives out a unique passcode for users to access the WiFi network every time they put the trash in the bin. The idea helps in keeping the surroundings clean aided by the availability of free WiFi access. Helping Faceless is a social initiative to help combat child trafficking using state-of-the-art technology. This app tracks vulnerable children and helps restore them back to their homes.

The importance of wireless

All of these require mobile wireless connectivity to make an impact, and India will soon be a highly connected nation – just look at some of the stats:

  • Total number of mobile subscriptions in India is expected to increase to approximately 1.4 billion by 2020, resulting in a population penetration of 100%
  • 3G subscriptions to increase from over 120 million in 2014 to around 620 million
  • LTE (4G) subscriptions will form 17% of the total subscription base in 2020
  • Monthly mobile data traffic per active smartphone will increase 4-fold to 4.5 GB by 2020.
  • Smartphone subscription to grow 6-fold to 750 million by 2020

It’s no surprise then that an Indian city, Delhi, has just joined the global Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) Connected City Advisory Board. This board helps deliver the vision of connected cities being pursued by a growing number of cities from around the world, similar to India’s 100 Smart Cities initiative. It provides an exclusive platform for city managers and CIOs to knowledge-share and create best practices with their counterparts in other cities and also determine the best way to leverage public-private partnerships.

Ashish Khetan, vice chairman, Government of Delhi, said, “I would like to congratulate Wireless Broadband Alliance for launching the Connected City Advisory Board initiative which will have leading cities from around the world join together to enable the vision for Connected Cities. I am happy to announce that the Government of Delhi has decided to join the Connected City Advisory Board and will be working in close association with WBA and ecosystem partners to develop Connected City plans and blue prints & create public-private ecosystems for collaboration. We see this association playing a major role helping our vision for city wide Wi-Fi.”

The secretary, government of India, Aruna Sundarraj, said, “I acknowledge the fact that Wi-Fi will play a transformational role in building the Smart Cities and it will work as a robust platform for a better, connected India. The global population continues to grow at a steady pace & more and more people are moving to cities every single day, accordingly, there is a crying need for the cities to get smarter to handle this large-scale urbanization and finding new ways to manage complexity, increase efficiency, reduce expenses, and improve quality of life.”

Rajan S. Mathews, director general, COAI, added, “We are glad to have taken the first step towards putting the foundation stone towards a better connected future. All the players in the telecom ecosystem should come together to perpetuate the success of this initiative taken by WBA and ensure the sustained realization of the Smart Cities, connected cities vision.”

All these statements give the impression that Indian government officials recognise the importance of the internet and wireless connectivity to realise their visions of Digital India and deploying 100 Smart Cities in the country. Together with competitions like Networked India 2015, there is visible evidence that there is both public and private determination to both make a grand vision possible from the government, and for industry to help understand the benefits of connected communities, and help implement a connected India.

Nitin Dahad is a consultant and advisor to the technology, industrial and media sector, and to government agencies and trade organisations, to develop global market strategies and programs based on nearly 30 years’ experience across Europe, US, Asia and Latin America

Login to post comment
Get in Touch
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Array ( [format] => html [Itemid] => 117 [option] => com_k2 [view] => item [task] => 4870:tech-speak-with-nitin-dahad-wireless-internet-bringing-india-into-the-digital-age [id] => 4870:tech-speak-with-nitin-dahad-wireless-internet-bringing-india-into-the-digital-age )