Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Universe in Mumbai

Sundays are a wonderful time to catch up on sleep, bills and my blog, which I admittedly had shelved for several months. Perhaps because I've been traveling so much with my new role, I haven't been in the city which has been my muse for a couple of years now and a source of inspiration for this blog.
So when I had a chance to attend our flagship event, IBM Software Universe in Mumbai a couple of weeks ago, I got the dose of inspiration I needed. I ran IBM Software Universe for a couple of years but this year I had the privilege of attending as a delegate instead of organizer and it was an incredible experience. It is really the largest and grandest event IBM India/South Asia hosts annually and clients and IBMers alike look forward to it year after year. This year was its 7th year and we were back at the Renaissance, Powai, which has really become home to the conference.

The highlight of the conference for me was the launch of the Intelligent Operations Center, not just because it has caught the interest of the press and clients alike, but because it seems to be the solutions to many of the problems plaguing my beloved Mumbai. Basically, it provides a view of a city’s operations to the city’s administrators and each of the utilities involved in running the city. The real power of the center is that it drills down to the lowest level of operations – for e.g. Carter Road, Bandra. I spent some time with the experts to really understand how it works because it really did sound too good to be true! So this is how they explained it:

Suppose you have an overflow from a drain from the manhole during monsoon season. While this is the waste water department’s issue, it can have other implications such as, if there is sewage water, the health department needs to get involved because it could also mix with clean water which could contaminate clean water supply for the city. It could also be a traffic department problem if the overflow is on the road and the road may need to be cordoned off and traffic needs to be diverted. So the Intelligent Operations Center allows all the relevant authorities to monitor and act on the situation in a coordinated way. Cool eh?

I’ve been blogging about Mumbai, one of my favorite cities in the world but will never really show up on the “Best Cities to Live and Work in” list because of all its infrastructure and governance issues. But maybe that can change with the help of technology?

Here is a link to one of the many articles about the IOC. The press seemed to be really interested in it too!

"IOC can potentially help also in monitoring and managing city services like emergency responses in the case of a natural or man-made disaster from a central point of command” - Times of India
So what do you think? Can we really bring a Smarter Planet to India one city at a time?

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