‘Data security needs to be taken care from edge devices in the field’

Suresh Kumar KK, Head – Smart Cities/Campus, Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions. An alumnus of IIM-Bangalore, Suresh Kumar is end to end product/solution development and business expert with more than two decades of experience in System/Solution architecture, Hardware/Software development, System integration, Verification, Market creation and Field deployment across Defence, Automotive, Telecom, Semiconductor, Consumer and IoT domains.

Suresh Kumar KK, Head – Smart Cities/Campus, Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions
  • Client

    Smart Cities/Campus

  • Services

    ‘Data security needs to be taken care from edge devices in the field’

  • Technologies

    Planning & Consultancy

  • Dates



How smart are our cities today? What exactly makes them smart?

Smart Cities is a collective term for digitisation of cities to make them live-able, sustainable, secured and more socially equitable. Average traffic speed in cities today is around 8 km/hour, air pollution levels are on the rise, one accident death in every 4 minutes, and even emergency assistance takes considerable amount of time to arrive.

We have not even fixed the basics like automated traffic violation detection, vehicle plate recognition, vehicle parking availability information and automated access/payment, commuter friendly public transport, integrated communication channel for police, fire and ambulance for emergency assistance, etc., yet. Fixing these basics is the first step towards smart cities.

Grappling with poor infrastructure, is it possible to make our cities smart?

It is not that the city infrastructure is too bad to be in this situation but the throughput of the services. By fixing the basics mentioned above the throughput of city services on the existing infrastructure itself will increase considerably. Thanks to the government of India for recognising this dire need and the Smart City Mission rolling out the 100 smart cities program in addition to many other initiatives.

Gathering data is one thing, sifting through it is another. Implementation is most important. Do we have the mechanism in place?

Dire need for cities, Special Purpose Vehicle to execute projects, government support and funding, McKinsy, Deloitte, PWC, as consultants, companies like Bosch, Cisco, Honeywell, IBM, Oracle, HP among others bringing technology, infrastructure companies like L&T, Shapoorji-Pallonji, Bharat Electronics, as master system integrators taking up the projects but still making very slow progress.

Each city defines the functional and technical and requirements for the solutions with the help of consultants but the available products and services in the local/global market are not able to meet the requirements. This results in multiple round of discussions with government agencies/consultants on specification changes and in many cases restarting the whole process from square one after spending months of efforts by all. These are is the major contributors of the delays.

Utilities, especially water and electricity, are low hanging fruit, perhaps?

The following are the most required and easy to implement ones:

• Traffic violation detection, e-penalty tickets, road messaging signs

• Video surveillance, security alerts, public addressing systems

• Efficient and commuter friendly public transport, public bikes

• Smart parking for open street and multilevel car/two wheeler parking, and

• Air quality, flood, rain monitoring, etc.

Water, solid waste management etc are relatively harder implementations though very much possible.

But such networks can also be vulnerable to cyber attacks. Are we prepared for that?

Very much. The whole city could be brought to a dysfunctional state by hacking into traffic light controllers, the road message sigs displaying wrong information, making announcements through public announcement systems, blocking vehicle parking lots, etc. The data security needs to be taken care from edge devices in the field to applications in the cloud and companies like Bosch has taken care of it in their Smart City solutions.

What could make the implementations faster?

All these solutions to fix the basics are standard solutions implemented worldwide and would need only very few specific additions (less than 5%) like power back up for the electrical systems and multi-language support for the applications in the case of India. This means the specification for the solutions could be defined at national level which will accelerate the requirement to go-live cycle.

Additionally government also needs to drive the following to complement the Smart City plans/solutions to get the real benefit:

• Comprehensive planning, monitoring and control of all city services

• Priority for public transport and regulate private transport

• Strict vehicle registration norms, number plate standardisation and enforcement

• Steep fines for traffic violations, and

• Good governance for efficiency, effectiveness and culture change.

(This interview is part of the series on Government of India’s Smart Cities Mission and the progress made so far.)