Uplink from Gujarat, India. Reporting on a Connected, Smart India

July 14, 2016

Rashmi Varma
Rashmi Varma

A digital native and a core techie with a deep rooted passion to creating innovative solutions and spectacular results. Coding, Designing, Algorithms, Strategy, Business, Writing, Educating & Speaking about Next Generation Technologies are Rashmi’s broad skills. Virtualization, Software Defined Networks, IoT, Deep Learning and Virtual Reality are the verticals Rashmi works with.

In her spare time, she is either building projects with her kids, playing with her dogs, sketching, traveling to experience foods & cultures or learning a new software language or tool.
~Our wonderful and exceptional friend Rashmi is visiting India, while she is there she has agreed to check out the massive Smart Cities undertaking currently taking place. 

Uplink from Gujarat, India. Reporting on a Connected, Smart India.

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has led several firsts in the state of Gujarat, in his previous reign as the state’s Chief Minister elect. His projects on infrastructure improvement included creating an eco-system for sustainable and green industrial utilities, public transport strategies to optimize city traffic patterns and myriad others. These projects eventually attracted an influx of both, investment into the state from companies setting up industries and a population looking for a higher quality of life.

As the incumbent leader of a burgeoning nation, Narendra Modi has now initiated the Smart City Mission with a massive funding of nearly 12B USD. The strategy to this project is unique. The Smart City Mission is targeting 100 Indian cities for development, of which 33 cities have been announced, with more to be named.

India’s Smart City Mission Logo
India’s Smart City Mission Logo

India’s Smart City Mission Logo

Reviewing the list of cities on the project, it quickly becomes clear that these are all cities with smaller populations, typically referred to as secondary cities in India. In discussing this information with Cynthia Heyn, Founder of SmartNTX, several questions emerged about how India defined the concept of “smart” and how did that definition equate to providing for basic infrastructural needs, which is a work in progress.

To know more about the Smart City Mission, I reached out to Manav Yagnik, an IIM-A alumnus and the co-founder of Decimal Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

Decimal (www.decimaltech.com) , is a pioneer in creating a platform that accelerates deployment of digital and mobility usecases for enterprises, and have been involved in their own way with the digitization of the banking enterprise workflow with “Aadhar”(see previous article published on this topic).

Mr. Yagnik made a kind introduction to Mr. Sudhanvan, President at Ispat Corp., who is leading an innovative collaboration to define ISPAT’s own and other smart city planning and development strategy.

Mr. BS Sudhanvan
Mr. BS Sudhanvan


Speaking with Mr. Sudhanvan made for a great discussion and was an awesome learning experience for me. Summarizing the key take-away from the discussion; India is at an intersection, where convergence of Infrastructure, Internet of Things, Data and People will create a new value proposition model for urban development. This integration, however, should be people focused, rather than technology centric.  Though data and computing has to provide real time intelligence, an emphasis on design will conform the intelligence as actionable and most importantly, acceptable by the masses.

Link to an informative excerpt of the conversation with Mr. Sudhanvan is here.


Uplink from Mumbai,India.

Rashmi Varma
Rashmi Varma
A digital native and a core techie with a deep rooted passion to creating innovative solutions and spectacular results. Coding, Designing, Algorithms, Strategy, Business, Writing, Educating & Speaking about Next Generation Technologies are Rashmi’s broad skills. Virtualization, Software Defined Networks, IoT, Deep Learning and Virtual Reality are the verticals Rashmi works with.
In her spare time, she is either building projects with her kids, playing with her dogs, sketching, traveling to experience foods & cultures or learning a new software language or tool.
~Our wonderful and exceptional friend Rashmi is spending the summer in India visiting her family, while she is there she has agreed to check out the massive Smart Cities undertaking currently taking place. 


Uplink from Mumbai,India

Reporting on the massive digital endeavor underway in one of the most populous countries in the world. Postulating at a macro level, it seems the world is a product of one term – “Connectivity”.

The earliest known form of connectivity can be found in the origin of trade, as early as, 3000B.C. Trade between countries formed a backbone of connections that were traversed to exchange goods and food, thus connecting people to cultures.

A map showing the main trade routes for goods within late medieval Europe. Courtesy: Wikipedia.org
A map showing the main trade routes for goods within late medieval Europe. Courtesy: Wikipedia.org

Following this, came the earliest roads of Persia and Babylon, that were adopted over the centuries into a geographical network, thus connecting people to places. The industrial

Revolution introduced a labyrinth of rail routes, which still continue to grow and connect people to manufacturing and distribution. First commercial air travel in the early 20th century, brought those connections to the skies.

The internet was the birthplace of people connecting to machines (servers) and social network applications, eventually connected people to other individuals. We are now on the impending cusp of connecting all mundane things (IoT) to the internet, ultimately creating a connection to everything (IoE). Even despite this double exponential growth in connectivity over the past fifty centuries, a country like India, that contributes 20% of the world’s population, has immense opportunities to provide basic, essential connectivity, in terms of both physical and digital infrastructures. This is being achieved every day in India, through ambitious technological and political policies, aiding the creation of building blocks, such as the U.S. social security number equivalent called “Aadhaar”(foundation). In fact, Aadhaar raises the bar on individual identification with IRIS detection technologies and creating a uniform, collaborative, technical platform for connecting various disparate central, state and independent government agencies and their programs. The core idea is to keep it minimalistic,

Provide an agile system that spurs innovation, create a central database of 1.2 billion Indian residents and provide secure, authorized interfaces to the repository. The potential of having such a system in bringing access, to connect billions up to advanced civic opportunities, such as Wi-Fi, are the first steps to faster self–‐service online marketplaces, smart applications, information and education, creating smart villages, smart cities and a smarter connected society.

Cooper Ramo Presents Unique and Powerful Worldview


cooper ramo


The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune and Survival in the Age of Networks the new book by Joshua Cooper Ramo was presented by the author at a recent Dallas World Affairs Council event on a rainy evening in downtown Dallas.  Those that braved the thunderstorms were in for a real treat.  Cooper-Ramo is Vice Chairman and Co-CEO of Kissinger Associates, adviser to CEOs, Politicians  and on a number of notable corporate boards.  Mr. Ramo  has a unique ability in recognizing patterns and relationships of seemingly disparate events and envisioning where those trends will lead us into the future.

Mr. Cooper-Ramo has spent much time in China (living as close to a national as possible –keeping company with locals and speaking fluent Mandarin).  He has witnessed, firsthand the ascension of China’s economic prowess and the dynamism of that economy.   His new book is a very interesting as it presents a new way of looking at the world.  A world where terrorism, mass refugee migrations, unbelievable technological and medical advances and whole new industries look just like chaotic events.  Mr. Cooper-Ramo draws parallels and explains what he believes is the secret to power and fortune in the coming age.  That secret power lies in understanding how networks function and the part they are playing in our changing economy, our geo-political structures and societal values.

Well worth the read and kudos to the Dallas World Affairs Council for yet another informative and engaging event.

Malcom Gladwell  was recently quoted  “The next president needs to read the Seventh Sense, starting on the morning of November 9th.  Joshua Ramo’s latest book is a fascinating guide to the way the world is changing.” The book is an important read not only for political leaders but for those of us working in Technology. The Internet of Things, Smart Cities and other Smart technologies will be part of the disruption that Cooper-Ramos discusses in his book.

North Texas and Highway Transportation Innovation


Thomas J. Bamonte
Thomas J. Bamonte  is leader in Transportation Technology and the future of Transportation.

The North Texas region has a robust highway transportation system that will face real challenges from rapid population and employment growth over the next few decades. Is North Texas positioned to take advantage of emerging transportation technologies to address these challenges? Guest author Tom Bamonte identifies ten assets the region can utilize to advance from the status quo to an improved highway transportation system. Read his article here.


Local DFW Company Wants to Change the Way You Interact with Objects

by Brian  Hersh

Brian Hersh

Spacee is a company whose mission is to create amazing spatial experiences. Spacee specializes in making the physical world digitally interactive through Spatial Augmented Reality. No Phones, No Glasses, No Helmets required. All Spacee projects are designed to be powerful communal

experiences that deliver a deep personal connection.  Spacee injects actual intelligence into physical space. Imagine a world where everything is proactive, interactive and reactive.   What if a building/store/space could react to a person’s profile and current emotional state?  What if media and products merged? Spacee is finalizing a platform allowing anyone to create these experiences without being a programmer.

It all started 3 years ago when Skip Howard, founder of Spacee, attended an event and hacked into a Microsoft Xbox Kinect. Through that experience, Skip was hooked and devoted all his free time to computer vision. He started by creating an in-air gesture interactive restaurant menu (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhxoh3KIsUw).  It was a total failure after the restaurant owners decided that customers would be confused with all the hand waving, but it sparked an idea and Skip spent the next two years working on:  Create a virtual touchscreen with a camera. After working on the problem and the methods, Skip founded an organization: Computer Visionaries (http://www.meetup.com/Computer-Visionaries/) to meet like minded people that he could bounce ideas off of. Computer Visionaries is now the largest Computer Vision meetup group south of New York City.  Because of the relationships and encouragement of the group’s members, Skip was able to create the first technology to make any surface or 3D object digitally interactive with the same camera system that can see the world and react to people. The Spacee Interactive Wall was born and so was Spacee the company. Since this invention, a patent has been issued and several other technologies are patent pending.

Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Marc Gilpin joined the company to bring advanced UX practices, UX principles and a lot of hard work. Through Marc’s creative guidance, the experience has been taken to the next level making the technology shine.

The first world facing project launched in August of 2015, the Touch Car Experience in partnership with Mercedes-Benz of Plano. Spacee turned a Mercedes into a touchscreen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWLPG2Wvkvk). The car is installed inside a Mall and any person is able to interact with it. (https://youtu.be/lf9Ppapdy-4)

  • A customer will approach the vehicle and is then invited to touch an icon to begin.
  • Using the latest in projection mapping techniques, a transition animation is displayed to the customer and the projection enters an active state.
  • In the active state, a series of touchable icons are presented, allowing the customer to interact and explore the available information. Once the user places their hand on the icon, the system will register a ‘touch’ and will be able to show the user the correct content in a new animated video.
  • Once the content video has ended, the system will return to its active state. The customer will be able to choose other icons.
  • Touchable icons are not just limited to one spot on the vehicle or even to the vehicle itself.
  • The system achieves virtual touch by using light only. Nothing is installed on the vehicle.
  • It has exceeded expectations and has sold Mercedes-Benzes all by itself.

Spacee Capabilities

  1. Spacee Wall – Computer Vision based digital signage / Interactive wall of real-world items/ Virtual Touch. Make any 2D Surface interactive including glass.

*1 Patent Issued, 1 Patent Pending

  1. Spacee Virtual Ghosts – a projection on a glass obelisk that allows a user to communicate with an interactive video. The system uses voice recognition and gestures to understand and react to the user.
  1. Reactive Spatial Awareness – the ability to touch a real world object and have a separate display react to the user’s touch. This is used for marketing and analytics
  2. The Spacee Overlay: Virtual touch and Spatial AR on any 3D object and surrounding area. The Spacee framework will work on practically anything and in practically any situation.
  1. Incorporated Tech: Spacee also uses Facial Recognition/detection, Emotional detection, image recognition, demographic detection, in-air gestures, 3D scanning/mapping and mobile integration and other creative technologies.

Spacee is changing the way you interact with everyday objects.   We are working on the future and would love your feedback or ideas.

Please see our youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/SpaceeCo and our website at : http://www.spacee.com

White House tech advisers urge greater federal smart cities focus


The awareness that the US needs focus on the global race toward creating smarter cities is permeating Washington, DC.

Below is an excerpt from the article.  Read the entire article here

The President’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology issued a new report laying out how the feds can support cities using IT to get smarter.

“In a letter to the president laying out the report’s findings, council co-chairmen John Holdren and Eric Lander stressed that these recommended investments and programs are essential to helping the country keep pace with the rest of the world in the contest to make cities that can best house, transport and entertain the booming numbers of urban dwellers.

““Transforming cities around the world in this way is already a race ― one that the United States cannot afford to lose,” the pair (Holdren and Lander)  wrote. “The time is ripe for an integrated approach to innovation to be brought to bear to improve the quality of life for all who live in cities, but perhaps above all the economically disadvantaged and under-connected.””

Keep on Learning the Key Message for Technology Professionals


continuous learning


In a recent article Randall Stephenson (CEO of AT&T) told the New York Times “There is a need to retool yourself, and you should not expect to stop,” he said in a recent interview at AT&T’s Dallas headquarters. People who do not spend five to 10 hours a week in online learning, he added, “will obsolete themselves with the technology.” (see article here).

Technology is changing at a rate to make anyone’s head spin.  The need to remain relevant in a changing world is nothing new,    but the need to retool is becoming more important than ever.  Competition is fierce, new artificial intelligence and machine learning is rendering the need for many human workers obsolete.   AT&T’s clear message to its employees is to keep learning.

Luckily, there are many avenues online that make learning inexpensive and easy online from your computer.  I recently took two courses one Technicity from Coursera (taught by University of Ohio professors) and one from Future Learn out of the UK.  The information in both those courses is current and presented in different ways to suit all learning styles.  With accessibility to information becoming more ubiquitous one is really only limited by desire to learn.

America’s Next Boom Towns

Forbes Joel Kotkin seems quite enamored by the Lone Star State  4 out of 15 Texas cities made the list.  More than any other state.

Below is an excerpt from the article and below that a link to the article itself.

“The Lone Star Model

The most vital parts of urban America can be encapsulated largely in one five-letter word: Texas. All four of Texas’ major metro areas made our top 10. Austin, Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth and San Antonio are very different places, but they all have enjoyed double-digit job growth from 2010 through 2014, well above the national average of 8.1%. They also all have posted income growth well above the national average.”


AT&T launches push to install IoT technology in major cities

In an article writen by Alex Korma for StateScoop  a new plan from AT&T  was unveiled at it’s Developer Summit in Las Vegas to develop a new “smart cities framework,” working with Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology to install connected devices in sections of those cities and on the university’s campus.

The effort also involves a substantial collaboration with other tech companies, with Cisco, Deloitte, Ericsson, GE, IBM, Intel and Qualcomm Technologies all pitching in to provide the technology that can take advantage of AT&T’s network.

“There are very few, if any other companies in the world that can pull this many large players together to galvanize around one common goal and move them forward in a framework that can actually be deployed and scaled across the country,” Mike Zeto, the general manager of the company’s smart cities business, told StateScoop.

This push comes just a few months after AT&T launched Zeto’s “Smart Cities Organization” within its Internet of Things Solutions division, and he believes his team has “come a long way in a really short period of time.”

– See more at: here