Creating an Integrated Infrastructure

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G.B. Kumar, Sr. Vice President, Cisco Services, Cisco India & SAARC

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The industrial revolution was built and sustained on infrastructure such as rail, roads, and telephone lines, paving the way for new cities and new connections for people and businesses around the globe. Today, much of it is being driven by the global network - everything is becoming connected. While designing urban infrastructure, for example, we put utilities and infrastructure at the heart of city planning, so much so we cannot imagine the blueprint of a city not including its roads.

Likewise, communities of the future cannot be envisioned without the network as an Urban Services Platform to deliver services that meet and exceed citizen, governance and economic requirements. The network has become the next utility, enabling the holistic, intelligent and environmentally sustainable creation and management of cities, industries and public services. At the grass-root level, a business of the future will be housed in a smart building that recognises each individual as he or she walks into the room, and then personalises services to meet their requirements.

This is not just a vision - much of the infrastructure needed to realise this is already available today. For example, at a retail outlet or a bank, RFID solutions enable location-based identification, tracking, and personalisation. Employees and visitors then receive targeted, customised content through strategically placed digital signage inside the building. Asset management and tracking can also be enabled throughout a building, enhancing safety and security. In fact, a pivotal feature of today's most innovative and valuable infrastructure development is the ability to facilitate intercommunication and interaction among buildings and other digital infrastructures.

However, creating such an environment requires a multilayered infrastructure approach. To connect Transportation, Real Estate, Safety & Security, Utilities, Education, Health, and Government, we will have to bring together a broad portfolio of partnerships, products, services, and solutions by using the network as the platform. With this kind of integrated infrastructure, cities and communities will be able to switch from a function-driven, device-oriented platform to a service-oriented platform-and this significantly adds value by reducing capital and labour, streamlining operational efficiencies and creating personalised services.

Customers would still need overall guidance about building up such a solution and better detailing of the role that technology can play in terms of delivering services to citizens. Consulting at this level allows the customer to identify their key success factors and use technology as a means to the goal and as a competitive differentiator, while also lowering costs and increasing revenues.

To tie this all together, it then becomes crucial to address the infrastructural design and construction process from the very beginning. When a technology blueprint is devised at the property blueprint stage, the developer can build brick and mortar with the final connected property in mind.

There are, of course, many challenges involved in making this kind of transition-from the technical difficulties of creating common user interfaces to the organisational issues associated with managing change in the work environment. The upside, however, is that tackling them will bring enormous benefits, both in terms of the quality to the user experience and in overall energy savings. Moreover relying on the network can help cities bring about sustainability, economic development, improved public services and city management and a better quality of life for citizens.

Looking ahead, we already know that the network will be a strategic platform in a world that demands better integration between utilities, people, information, and ideas. By adding a layer of services to the devices on the network, we can make networks, applications, and the people who use them work better together thereby creating solutions that align with business needs and generate new opportunities.

G.B. Kumar

G.B. Kumar,
Senior Vice President
Cisco Services, Cisco India & SAARC


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