Growth brought about by the Living Lab

With the advent of the new initiative taken by Indias National Smart Cities Mission, there is an important role levied on smart cities across the country to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life by harnessing technology and enabling global and local development.

Keeping this agenda in mind, The Living Lab at IIIT Hyderabad‘s Smart City Research Center functions to fulfil the following objectives:

  • To communicate experiences and smart solutions to academic institutions and corporations across the world.
  • Provides a platform for start-ups, researchers and students to carry out and showcase their work to gain insight on the operability of a Smart City.
  • Help start-ups to create proof of concepts, scale up and in local and global commercialisation.

To put these ideologies in action and bring about the changes that IIIT-Hyderabad foresees the country can undergo, they started of with a series of knowledge tanks, roundtable conferences, workshops and campaigns to address their challenges.

The Roundtables they hosted so far are the following:-

  1. The Confluence Industry-Academia Roundtable

A confluence was organised on the 12th of November, 2021 by IIITH’s Applied AI Research Center and Smart City Living Labs, including industry leaders, technologists, innovators and researchers. Cyberabad Police Commissioner and Society For Cyberabad Security Council – SCSC were the main stakeholders of the event. It aimed at understanding the possibilities of solutions leveraging the latest features from AI to enable better policing, in the prevention and reduction of crime and make cities more secure, by using the CCTV camera network.

The discussion flow at the roundtable facilitated a brainstorming session that emerged with advanced solutions on subjects like understanding the pattern of traffic movement, predicting traffic congestions, real-time detection of traffic violations, crowd management during large gatherings, detecting criminal activities beyond normal hours and the surveillance of potholes, water logging, traffic signs, street lights and other road assets.

The panellists shared their valuable thoughts and ideas of possible solutions on how technology available today can be used to build safe communities and help the force in preventing crimes. The challenges identified were taken into consideration separately and will be acted upon to bring about changes in the future. As a first step, a pilot, based on the data available, will be developed, its usefulness will be supervised and then scaled-up and simulated to the entire city. By interacting with experts from the police side and the video feeds available, data will be captured and models will be developed. Also, ideas on possibilities around specific projects were gathered from the participating stakeholders. One of them included a plan for an awareness campaign for citizens on the use of security systems at home that can timely auto-update their passwords and make prevention of crime easier.

As an institute, IIITH’s focus is on working with the police, and leveraging the latest developments from AI, structuring a CCTV camera network that shall efficiently ensure better policing.

  1. The Healthy (Pandemic/Covid safety) Smart Cities – Emerging Technology Solutions Roundtable

For life after the covid pandemic coming back to normalcy, governance and management of organisations, workplaces, schools and government need to understand the best practises to be followed in managing the safety and wellbeing of the citizens. Under the purview of Smart City Living labs, IIITH organised a multi-stakeholder round table discussion to bring in perspectives from the government, technology partners, front-line workers, academic institutions and start-ups to get a better understanding of how cities are responding to the pandemic and gather valuable insights to address the issue collaboratively.

Today, we are all aware of the fact that the pandemic became such a crisis because of every individual’s mismanagement of resources, complacency and neglect towards past experiences. Unpredictability of the pandemic also added to the uncertainty of the situation. Due to a wide outreach and real-time updates, social media had also shared every kind of news which had created hypersensitivity in masses and hence led to more chaos. Further, the non-availability of proper SOP guidelines as applicable to the present scenario and awareness of the same to the common people, had added more to the problem.

However, now that the pandemic has been contained, there are yet various concerns that need to be addressed for the effective and safe reopening and functioning of schools, workplaces and public spaces. These concerns had been discussed and a position paper was made and published on the discussion that included solutions and steps to be taken next.

Some valuable recommendations that have resulted from the discussion include: Deployment of a network of sensors for real-time updates, live monitoring and screening and mandatory periodic screening, SOP guidelines and training for real-time tracking of threats. Solutions were discussed on the detection of Covid-19 aerosols in air for their early mitigation. Touchless workplaces, lifts and public transport like the Amazon-Go Stores present in the US, can also be implemented to create fresh, smart and covid free public utilities and spaces.

Actioning the Roundtable Recommendations 
Following the roundtable discussion, IIITH shared and reviewed the reports with key government stakeholders, IT industry associations and CBRE, to plan on future actions and estimate costs for implementations. They also aimed at hosting Challenge campaigns based on the identified themes to initiate more research projects in the Living Lab. The SOPs discussed also covered a major part that could be put to use for the smooth reopening of schools and workplaces and thus IIITH hosted the Back to Campus Challenge as per the ideas proposed in this Roundtable.

Following these two major roundtables, IIITH conducted their Challenge campaigns that dealt with the prevailing smart city problems and aimed at reaching their goals of solving them to bring about a collective change in order to future-proof smart cities. The challenges go as follows:-

The first challenge organised was The Water Challenge, launched in association with the Government of Telangana and National Institute of Urban Management (NIUM), from February, 2021 to March, 2021. It aimed at finding viable solutions to the problems faced in areas of Water Quality, Water Wastage, Water Distribution and Management and to formulate ways to deal with Non-Revenue Water consumed by the cities. The panellists present were from academia (IIITH), government bodies (MEITY, HMWSSB, NIUM), private consultants (WRI) and technology partners (EBTC).

Following The Water Challenge was, The Smart City Innovation Challenge, launched in association with MeitY and the National Smart Cities Mission, between 4 May, 2021 to 16 August, 2021. This challenge focused on key smart city issues of Water Management, Supply and Distribution, Waste Management, Safety, Security, Energy and Health Assessment. The challenge aimed at bringing the private and public sector together, and with research facilities, work on smart city problems to fulfil the Indian Government’s goal of creating 100 smart cities across the country.

Lastly, was The Back to Campus Challenge, which was the follow up campaign organised after The Healthy Smart Cities Roundtable. As planned, IIIT, Hyderabad organised this campaign to initiate more research projects in the Living Lab as per the ideas proposed in paper during the discussion. The Back to Campus Challenge was held with the Amsterdam Innovation Arena, MeitY, the National Smart Cities Mission, National Institute of Urban Management and EBTC as the supporting partners and CBRE, Intel and Silicon Labs as the corporate partners. The campaign was organised for start-ups and innovators to showcase their solutions that can help ensure safety and security of campuses by taking care of cleanliness, hygiene, social distancing, crowd monitoring and health assessment, as people gradually return back to work.

The roundtables and challenges organised received international response and achieved flourishing results. For further details on what each challenge procured and how IIITH is making real-time changes and growing towards building a lucid smart future, stay connected for our next article ..

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