National Technology Day was commemorated yesterday and May 11, 2018 was marked as “Technology for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth“. This theme is perhaps most visible in the realty space where smart homes and smart cities are shaping the future of this dynamic sector. Imagine getting a call on your cell phone from relatives who have unexpectedly landed up outside your house. Both you and your spouse are stuck in office, it is impossible to leave early and a ‘surprise’ visit goes sour. Sounds familiar? Well, thanks to technology, this story has a happy ending these days. On receiving the call, you can open your front door to let them in, start the lights, cool the living room by activating the air-conditioner, get the coffee machine to start perking and play some soft music to relax your house guests all this sitting in the confines of your office itself!
Or picture this. A gang of burglars is canvassing your neighbourhood just when your family has gone on a two-week vacation. Under normal circumstances, your empty home with the lights off would be an easy target and the robbery would go unnoticed until you return. Instead, following your pre-set schedule, the burglars find lights being switched on and off in different rooms at varying intervals, curtains being opened and drawn, the television set coming on just as the cricket match starts. Encountering all the regular signs of the house being occupied, the burglars just give up and move on to the next building.
Initially perceived as a status symbol for those who like to have total control over the ambience of their home, which it most definitely is, technology is now also being seen as a means of controlling access, enforcing security and monitoring what happens in the house even when one is not at home.
However, it is not as simple as buying a television set or refrigerator. While home automation products have been separately offered in the market by several providers, what people really require is an integrated system that offers automation, security, messaging and entertainment under one roof to ensure compatibility and scalability.
Instead of the hassles of dealing with multiple providers, who may not be very helpful in sorting out connectivity issues between different gadgets and technologies by other companies, they should have a single-point of contact. Similarly, instead of starting again from scratch and paying for an entirely new system when their financial condition improves, they should opt for one that can be upgraded by just paying an incremental cost for the necessary plug-ins or software.
Avinash Gautam, CEO, Silvan Innovation Labs, pointed out that ‘Smart’ is really the way to go. Technologies progress and new inventions continue to happen and there will always be newer and better ways to make things ‘smarter’ than what they are today or what they will be tomorrow. Outlining some of the aspects necessary to make cities ‘smart’ (see box) he explained that buildings are important units of a smart city, and the smartness has to start there. Technology can go a long way in ensuring that the buildings are secure, energy efficient, and generate actionable data for larger city planning. The roads, railway stations, airports, electricity, telecommunication and other utilities need to work in an organized, cohesive and efficient manner so that they become the back bone of the Smart City, he said. Implementing a Smart City is going to be a long drawn activity with moving goal posts. A long term view is required to ensure that and actionable plan with intermediate milestones are implemented without losing sight of the big picture, Avinash opined.