Co-working Spaces: Matchmaking for Startups

Co-working spaces have evolved from the shared workspace concept to a new holistic level. Today, a co-working space is a place where people come together and integrate work with their personal lives, eventually building a sense of belonging to a community. In common parlance, co-working refers to the sharing of a working environment. Entrepreneurs, self-employed, or staff working for different companies may opt for co-working to optimise space and manage costs.

A large number of freelancers, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and start-ups are opting for the flexibility to use space and resources on demand. The millennials are not the ones who would be willing to sign long-term leases. Despite their loathing for established practices, they make good with a strong work ethic. This aspect, along with a growing entrepreneur community, has accelerated the rise in co-working spaces. Therefore, the new work environment is attuned to emphasise values such as flexibility, autonomy and choice. Co-working spaces are successful because they are reflective of the new demands of the new generation of workforce. In fact, even big corporations are sending their employees to co-working spaces. For instance, HSBC Bank (in Hong Kong) offers its employees the option to work from a co-working space. It has been observed that such “co-working” employees are happier and more productive with the new way to work. Isn’t it exciting to see how co-working is shaping the old models of working? Another aspect that spurs the co-working space lies in staffing problems. Talent retention is becoming a challenge for big companies. Unlike the earlier generation of workers, the new age worker likes to work in a physically and mentally motivating environment.

What brings people together in a co-working space?

Opportunities for collaboration and mentorship are the driving force that motivates people and companies to gravitate towards a co-working space. Not just business prospects, but also a great sense of belonging brings people together. There are no tangible reporting lines here, only communities. Discussions relating to food, friendship and business fill the air, giving the space the apt amount of gravitas for equitable working. Even big corporations such as Coca-Cola are creating such spaces on their campuses and are inviting other freelancers to come and work there! Companies are coming to terms with the fact that internal work processes may not be up to the mark when it comes to ideation, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.

If community is the bedrock of a co-working space, then technology is the infrastructure that brings it all together. People are always on the Internet all the time through different devices, an aspect that is changing the way we treat workspaces. As co-working offices are creating a whole new ecosystem, it is giving way to another, more specialised micro-environment where “connected” professionals such as lawyers, counsellors, accountants and others are beginning to play a role.

Looking ahead, one can safely say that co-working spaces will no longer be limited to top-tier cities. In fact, there are more than 11,000 co-working spaces in the world right now—all in a matter of a few years. As many new entrants in this field are increasingly moving into second- and third-tier cities, co-working will usher in a new way of working as a much older workforce gets acclimatised to this concept.

BITCOIN & THE FELLOWSHIP OF DISRUPTION

Today, Bitcoin is becoming an issue. While some governments worldwide are sending out warnings, others are warming up to the sustained performance of the Bitcoin market against all odds. Traditional banks intend to lead a frontal assault against Bitcoin, as Operation Tarnish Image is underway. Meanwhile, the Bitcoin markets march with self-assured hubris and even promise freedom from the traditional banking system!

Ever since its status as a “proper currency” was acknowledged formally in 2010—thanks to its acceptance by marquee businesses such as Expedia, WordPress, and Microsoft—Bitcoin has come a long way. Its value soared from around $1150 (in Jan 2017) to an all-time high of over $17,382 (in Dec 2017). It is now being said that the supply of Bitcoin would slow down owing to its high demand. News reports suggest that the wider cryptocurrency market is seeing gains. In fact, the top-10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalisation are witnessing price increases every day. As it stands, the total market capitalisation of cryptocurrencies is roughly at $456 billion. Perhaps when the total market value of Bitcoin exceeds $500 billion, India’s Central bank would favourably toy with the idea of purchasing digital currencies. At any rate, there is no sign of Bitcoin value falling in the near future. Clearly, these are times for investing in Bitcoin.

Let us look at some of the key drivers that buttress the growth of this new form of currency.

Firstly, the highly encrypted nature of Bitcoin transactions is fool-proof. Each transaction or money transfer would be safe without the risk of any data leakage. It is widely considered as the fastest method of transferring money online. To make a payment, the individual has to approach an agent, who transfers the Bitcoin equal to the money’s worth immediately to the payee. In addition, Bitcoin’s encryption contains multiple levels of cryptographic coding, which guarantees top-notch protection against frauds or attempts of online theft. This is a far cry from the error-prone and vulnerable firewall protection that traditional banks depend on to ensure safety to monetary transactions.

Secondly, the value of a Bitcoin is entirely dependent on market demands; Bitcoin exchanges determine the value unlike the conventional currency systems that are controlled, monitored and regulated by specific authorities.

Thirdly, there is investor anonymity. Receiving Bitcoin payment doesn’t require a traditional bank account, bank cards, etc. People simply need a reliable Internet connection and designated software to transfer and receive the money. As these transactions are free from banks’ watchful eyes, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will bring communities closer through peer-to-peer (P2P) transaction and crowdfunding platforms.

Lastly, there is no transaction fee associated with every movement of the currency. Depending on the agent they approach, people have to pay a minimum service charge while sending or receiving money. Unlike the banking system, you would not find any arbitrary imposition of huge processing fee or service charge on transactions.

Bitcoin has disrupted the markets, governments, and institutions. However, enterprising governments around the world are warming up to the realities and possibilities of giving Bitcoin a larger room as befitting its growing status. All the growing clamour begs the question: What next with Bitcoin? Now, with cryptocurrencies being preferred over gold by investors, it only remains to be seen whether Bitcoin will replace gold as the prime medium of exchange and investment. Or, maybe we are in the throes of preparing for a decentralised economy. Or, arrest the rising inflationary trends… the possibilities are numerous with Bitcoin.

Today, the fastest growing Bitcoin markets are Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The GCC and African Union countries are not far behind. Maybe there is a lesson or two hidden in these markets.

India’s Battle To Keep Our Children Safe Online

The proportion of people aged between 15 and 24 who are online is estimated to be over 70 per cent worldwide, according to an ITU report. The report also goes to add that more than half of the world’s households have access to the Internet. While all this may draw a rosy picture of digitally empowered societies, the Internet has also opened the door for exploitation of the vulnerable. Today’s generation of connected, savvy children has become the unwitting victim of numerous abuses online.

Studies into children and young people’s online behaviour indicate that they use the Internet for activities such as research, social messaging, gaming and learning activities. Eventually, even before they could realise it, children end up being victims of cyber bullying, inappropriate contact, identity theft, fraud and exposure to adult content. In Indian societies, it wreaks havoc on not only the lives of children and their parents, but also on the very social fabric of the community that they live in. To set the context, cyber safety does not end with just protecting children; it invariably extends to families, communities, and consumers.

What we need is an ecosystem that fosters the undertaking of steps to support digital safety, security and privacy. It is important that for our children to develop digital life skills in a safe environment, the industry and government must work together with experts and advocacy groups to identify and ensure that the Internet evolves in a healthy and responsible way. Globally, online protection for children is a much recognised and discussed topic and an agenda for many governments, but India has taken a longer time to realise it. Given the state of poor digital literacy in India, lack of online safety measure, and the fact that a large percent of children is taking to the Internet and social messaging, there is a rising consensus that protecting today’s children requires a collective effort from all stakeholders, including service providers, content providers, civil society and regulatory authorities.

In September 2016, UNICEF India launched the first comprehensive report on child online safety in India. According to the report, offline forms of crime and violence against children are finding new forms of expression in the online world and their effects on children are alarming. By staying anonymous online and impersonating others, offenders become emboldened to commit offensive and criminal acts, successfully bypassing the deterrent potential of laws. The report goes on to add that cybercrimes against children in India are under-reported and have received very little attention; in fact, such crimes are not included in the National Crime Records Bureau statistics as a separate category.

As a nation, we still lack the ability to protect our children from online abuse and respond effectively to harmful content. In fact, there is widespread lack of awareness about child online abuse and exploitation among parents, teachers, police and policymakers. Responding to these threats does not require the passing of legislation alone.

Given the nature and growth of the Internet, its ecosystem, strengths, and risks, there can be no single agency or government institution that can ensure the safety of children from online threats and violence. It is important that all government institutions, private sector, academia, and civil society to work together to build the mechanism to prevent and respond to the specific threats and risks posed to children.

The cyber safety brigade has a full time job the world over. The list of online risks continues to grow each passing day, the latest being the issue of fake news. It is on such a backdrop that one should welcome a motivated and earnest attempt by Cybersafety India to be the harbinger of change in the country. A brainchild of the global consumer protection activist, Dr. Parry Aftab, Cybersafety India envisages using the power of grassroots volunteers to help deliver its message and assist in the building of a digitally aware community.

Current forms of child online abuse and exploitation in India (Source: UNICEF, 2016)

  • Cyberbullying: Emotional harassment, defamation and social exposure, intimidation, social exclusion
  • Online sexual abuse: Distribution of sexually explicit and violent content, sexual harassment
  • Online sexual exploitation: Production, distribution and use of child sexual abuse material (CSAM), or child pornography, “sextortion”, “revenge pornography”
  • Cyber extremism: Ideological indoctrination and recruitment, threats of extreme violence
  • Online commercial fraud: Identity theft, phishing, hacking, financial fraud
  • Habit formation and online enticement to illegal behaviours: Access to alcohol, cheating, plagiarism, gambling, drug trafficking, sexting and self-exposure
  • Grooming: Preparing a child, significant adults and the environment for sexual abuse and exploitation or ideological manipulation

TECHNOLOGY TRANSFORMING THE BFSI SECTOR

As more banks and financial institutions (FIs) show indefatigable appetite for solutions ranging from fraud and risk management to regulatory compliance, the FinTech segment is set for rapid growth in India. In the past year, the banking industry in India began embracing new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and blockchain to leverage existing data, expand products and services, and revolutionise the customer experience. In fact, banks are collaborating with FinTechs to experiment with a variety of use-cases, from implementing bot-enabled conversational banking services to using recommendation engines for targeted marketing of financial products.

Even as the FinTech sector slowed down globally, the scene in India presented a different picture with the country emerging as one of the most promising regions for FinTech investment. In 2016, India’s FinTech segment witnessed a strong growth; a boost provided by the demonetisation of high value currency notes. On one hand, the country has the largest unbanked or underbanked population waiting to be covered, while on the other, there are regions—such as Kerala and Gujarat—with a strong technology and infrastructure ecosystem. This provided the FinTech firms the necessary room to implement new technologies and scale operations.

Exciting days ahead for AI and ML

The two terms—artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)—are often used interchangeably; a fact that irritates most technocrats. AI refers to smart algorithms that vary the output based on a wide range of input variables. On the other hand, ML refers to one particular application of AI that ‘learns’ from large amounts of data and makes the required inferences useful to the user.

Banks and FIs are using AI and ML applications in data analytics and customer service for the following reasons: personalising and improving customer experiences, generating better insights, and automating back-end workflows. According to a PwC study, over 36% of large financial institutions in India have already invested in these technologies, and almost 70% reported that they are planning to do so soon.

Systems using AI or ML can undertake the execution of numerous applications such as voice and image recognition, logistics, search and matching, and personalisation. As the financial sector quickly recognises the potential of these two technologies, there is bound to be major progress in the development and adoption of AI in the years to come. Moreover, with Google and Apple incorporating AI and ML features on their mobile platforms, there is a strong indication of high demand for more efficient data analytics. Watch out for this trend in 2018 – the rapid growth of B2C applications in the realm of AI.

Blockchain is here to stay

In the past year, blockchain-based Bitcoin exchanges have been growing in India. The traditional financial services sector is also coming to terms with the fact that the blockchain architecture is ideal for different use-case scenarios. With blockchain-based systems offering vastly improved trust, transparency, and native regulatory advantages, the adoption of blockchain in the Indian banking sector is also finding support from regulators.

As large players in the BFSI sector are inclined towards innovative blockchain implementations, the technology shows promise of rapid adoption in the coming years. The significant back-office savings and transparency that blockchain provides are very attractive from a regulatory and audit perspective. Within the next year or so, about three main blockchain applications will dominate the Indian market:

Payment / fund transfer infrastructure

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Smart contracts

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Digital identity

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However, as is the case of any new financial technology, a major issue hindering the development of blockchain is the lack of continued support and collaboration between participating parties. Similar to the AI and ML segment, FinTech startups and banks must work together to develop solutions that allow blockchain to get into the mainstream.

Smart Transportation Solutions

HOW SMART TRANSPORTATION INITIATIVES CAN TRANSFORM CITIES?

As more people move into cities, civic authorities are putting in place smart transportation initiatives. These initiatives aim to reduce infrastructure costs, alleviate traffic bottlenecks, optimize routes, and foster road safety. What drives these initiatives is the data from connected vehicles. Information from vehicles helps smart cities to create holistic plans that encompass an entire city’s ecosystem.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the transportation industry. As the market for IoT is estimated to reach $1.7 trillion in 2020, smart transportation systems are creating opportunities across a wide range of industries and market segments. Opportunities abound in automating roadways, railways, and airways; transforming passenger experiences; and reshaping the way cargo and merchandise are tracked and delivered. Riding the IoT wave is a prime component in smart transportation systems: big data analytics.

Massive volumes of data are generated by smart technologies deployed within connected vehicles. According to a study by Hitachi, a single connected car will produce more than 25 GB of data per hour of use. Putting this data into perspective enables businesses and civic authorities to see patterns they can use to develop a range of innovative services towards building a connected infrastructure.

CONNECTED VEHICLES ARE THE NEW “EYES”

As IoT can create connections between the smart vehicle and the transportation infrastructure, it offers several benefits, including a coordinated system designed to get everyone safely to their destination on time. Sensors installed on the vehicles could send a signal that alerts nearby vehicles about any problem, enabling them to slow down or take an alternate route. In-vehicle sensors and systems create valuable information flows:

Smart Parking

03(1)IoT-enabled parking garages can monitor capacity. They can report on the location and number of available parking spaces in a facility to the drivers who enter.

Predictive Maintenance

05In-vehicle sensors can analyze engine loads, driver behavior, road condition, etc. This can then compile a vehicle history that can be used to optimize scheduled maintenance.

Optimized Routing

01(1)Analysis of traffic conditions, fuel consumption and vehicle idle time between routes can determine the most efficient route for vehicles to follow.

Video Surveillance

02(1)By linking dashboard cameras and other video sources with cloud storage, organizations can stream video for immediate review.

Rider Services

04(2)Bus and train services can provide real-time route data to customers’ smartphones, showing where the next bus is and when it is due.

HOW CONNECTED INFRASTRUCTURE CAN TRANSFORM URBAN TRAVEL
As smart cities evolve, different systems in the city will be able to communicate with each other. Connected cars help cities to monitor their transport infrastructure. This in turn can enable the development of allied services that are adaptive, and the introduction of predictive tools that allow the best transport service to be offered, based on forecast and real-time environmental, traffic, and other related data. For instance, data from connected sensors can give many insights such as how citizens use transport, what planning is required, and what information can be shared with citizens to enhance their travelling experience. By combining multiple sources of data, such as weather and traffic information, complex analysis of travel patterns can be undertaken.

When vehicles, passengers and infrastructure can communicate with each other, it becomes possible for the city to adapt and integrate different systems, enabling new services to be deployed. Traffic lights can automatically turn green for emergency vehicles, buses can ply routes where more people are waiting, vehicles can pay tolls for distance driven, and pedestrians can have priority over vehicular traffic in some areas.

To make the most of IoT in transport services, the onus is on the civic authorities and service operators. Understanding how best to utilize the data and connectivity options available to them will allow civic authorities to redefine the urban infrastructure landscape to greater effect, and for common good.

 

 

9 STEPS FOR A SMART CITY

IoT in urban environments brings in a number of benefits. A well-planned IoT implementation helps in managing and optimising traditional public services; increases transparency and promotes better civic response to citizens; stimulates the active participation of citizens in public affairs; and fosters the creation of new services—all of these without drying up the city council’s treasury.

Therefore, local and regional administrations keen on making their city smart keenly follow the developments taking place in the world of IoT. However, any successful implementation requires more than just rolling out a slew of technologies; it involves the public, private and civic bodies to participate in devising a common action plan for their city.

Below is a list of recommendations for implementing, optimising, and evaluating smart city initiatives for all stakeholders:

091.Vision: There term “Smart City” refers to computerisation in the public sphere, i.e IT convergence, digitalisation, connectivity, etc. A smart city is capable of reinventing itself with new standards for the welfare and wellbeing of its population. In IoT parlance, a Smart Cities project refers to the interconnection of key industry and service sectors, such as Smart Governance, Smart Mobility, Smart Utilities, Smart Buildings, and Smart Environment. Therefore, the vision for a Smart City should consider the prevailing social-economic conditions and civic readiness to arrive at the objectives for the Smart City model.

082.Technology Adoption: Creating a scalable, manageable and secured broadband and IoT infrastructure is the foundation for all communications requirements of any smart city. Apart from the above prerequisite, a Smart City project also requires allied technologies as enablers. To better appreciate the level of maturity of enabling technologies and their adoption, it is important to have a synoptic view of all services in terms of technical, infrastructural and administrative constraints.

073. Open Data Policy: Smart cities use public data and information from government and other sources to help solve civic problems and create new business opportunities. Defining the rights and privileges associated with collected data, data governance, and data usage assists in fostering transparency and providing value-added services.

064. Public-Private Initiatives: Categorising the “need to have” and “nice to have” applications (which will be delivered by public-private partnership) sets the parameters for incorporating smart requirements into publicly funded infrastructure programs and in areas such as mobility, healthcare, security, lighting, environment, energy, construction, and communications.

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5. Cross-Domain Initiatives: Establishing the framework for a holistic approach across sectors and applications require expertise and standards that span many different sectors—from smart transport to smart buildings. This holistic and layered framework addresses the multiple needs of a smart city, leverages urban data to boost economic competitiveness, and builds effective solutions to many challenges.

046. Stimulate Ecosystems: Cultivating a collaborative culture with private partners plays a key role in developing the smart city eco system. Project developers, utilities companies, service providers, technology vendors, system integrators, and application developers collaborate through initiatives like city labs, developer contests, and application playgrounds to build the smart city. It would be beneficial to create a common network infrastructure and a secure IoT architecture that serves the needs of partners and the city council.

037. Milestones: Defining a framework with quantitative and qualitative indicators is important, and it must be customised for the city’s specific objectives. The evaluation should not only cover technical aspects, but also consider parameters like digital economic growth, sectoral sensitivity, accessibility of open data, digital service adoption, and more.

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8Education: A smart city project should reflect the inclusive, participatory, and social nature of its civic initiatives. Connecting with citizens and keeping them informed about progress through communications and social media is important for the success of any initiative. Through end-user education, field trials, surveys and open house sessions, the administration should reach out to the public.

019. Community Connect: It is important to make innovative companies collaborate with local communities on concepts, end-to-end prototypes, business models, and market trials. Although technologies such as broadband Internet and IoT are important building blocks of the government’s vision, the citizens’ acceptance and engagement will eventually determine success or failure of any smart city initiative.

THE RISE OF COGNITIVE BANKING

Blockchain, Artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive technologies are creating new opportunities for the finance industry. In an industry where insight and information is crucial, the focus is now on investing in technology and resources that aid in complex problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity to meet customer expectations in a timely manner and provide tailored products and services. Banks are embracing the latest technologies—ranging from blockchain, cloud computing, cognitive computing, and the Internet of Things, to machine learning and more—to understand the needs of customers and service them.

For the banking sector, investing in cognitive technology is a given and a necessity to retain their competitiveness. Cognitive technology helps banks to make sense of data for providing a range of services that include customer experience and fulfilment, cyber security, risk management, and compliance. Therefore, the financial services business is now transforming into a cognitive business.

How do Cognitive Systems work ?

In financial service companies, cognitive systems use the unstructured data present in industry reports, investment advisories, financial news, and other party sources to offer customised solutions based on individual needs and requirements of customers. In other words, financial service companies can target individuals to deliver the right product, thereby increasing the chances of sales conversion. Cognitive systems apply predictive analysis to determine an individual’s characteristic requirements from social media, messages, and other available content. Once the persona of an individual is shaped, data analysis helps to determine the customer type, and assists the advisor in making decisions.

Impact on Processes

Previously, only humans could perform certain tasks with some degree of autonomy; now, cognitive technologies are able to do that and more. Over the years, cognitive technologies have matured to perform the following tasks –

  • Analysing Numbers: Cognitive technologies help analysing numbers in structured formats. Simple algorithmic methods help in creating variables and models that best fit to a data set. Complex cognitive methods can learn from labeled data to determine strategies that may come in handy during complex business situations; for instance, fraud detection and personalised marketing.

  • Analysing Images & Words: This key aspect of cognition is no longer a realm of human intervention. A wide variety of tools analyse words and images, and do more: words are read, counted, classified, interpreted, and predicted. This has been possible through technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, neural networks, deep learning, and so forth.

  • Performing Digital tasks: Automating administrative tasks and decisions often is best handled by cognitive technologies. As there are thousands of such tasks to perform in the financial sector, cognitive tools perform the required tasks to move a ‘case’ through a logical series of workflow steps. Banks and insurance companies use it for back-office customer service tasks such as replacing a lost ATM card, processing claims, and handling payments etc.

  • Performing Physical tasks: Robots come with cognitive abilities for more intelligence and greater ability to make decisions. When loaded with deep learning software, robots can analyse processes, perform tasks within processes, and make learning predictions of what is most likely to satisfy a customer.

Customer demand is fundamentally changing traditional business models with technology-driven peer-to-peer lending services, online banking, and DIY portfolio management companies. Competition is fierce to deliver timely and tailored products to customers, and companies are embracing different financial technologies as new means to engage with customers.

IoT – Powering the Transformation of Business

While most smart buildings are managed by an integrated software application, usually known as the Building Management System (BMS), the Internet of Things (IoT) offers stakeholders the durable insight and control required for further value creation, customisation, and cost control. IoT has redefined the relationship between physical and digital environments. This results in buildings that can communicate, identify risks, and address inefficiencies—all automatically performed to our desired standards.

What is a ‘Smart’ building?

Today, smart building solutions connect devices and sensors to the cloud, use analytics and artificial intelligence for addressing risks or inefficiencies, and communicate with users. IoT performs all of these with a network of connections that automatically senses and responds to changes in physical environments—from lighting to biometrics. With insight into operations, resource management, space utilisation and productivity, stakeholders can take proactive actions, optimise usage, and rationalise processes.

Benefits of ‘Smart’ Buildings

  • Improved Use of Resources – IoT solutions provide you with valuable insights and patterns of resource usage. This helps businesses to become proactive and tackle unplanned downtime. Prioritisation of tasks is easier with these solutions.
  • Reduced Consumption of Energy – Energy consumption can be checked and optimised to requirement. With real-time visibility into usage of resources, these solutions help in controlling consumption and optimising usage. Through the use of automation and Artificial Intelligence, we can ensure that our devices operate only when necessary, thereby reducing wastage.
  • Efficient Utilisation of Space – IoT solutions leverage sensors and devices to improve space usage, through the use of heat maps and other sensors. Smart building solutions are capable of using intelligence and automation capabilities to learn behaviours and preferences. This greatly helps businesses to provide a supportive environment that caters to the needs of employees and other personnel present.
  • Effective Personalisation of Environments – As IoT connects people, devices and locations, smart buildings have more flexibility in determining the nature and quantum of value served to users. A major aspect of value addition includes personalised assistance based on user preferences and activities, going way beyond proximity-based automation that most BMS’ offer.

With IoT connectivity, users have the ability to interact with a device or sensor from a remote location. IoT presents numerous opportunities and allows users the flexibility to experiment and iterate at a smaller level. Once a solution is tested, it can be scaled up and even globally distributed.

Marching towards Smart Cities

Kerala’s initiative to earmark its commercial capital, Kochi, as a hub for IoT has set in motion a vibrant ecosystem for early adoption of the technology in sectors such as governance, infrastructure, transport, welfare and civic services, etc. Multiple sectors collaborate and work in tandem for sustainable outcomes. Based on the sectors involved, IoT undertakes the analysis of both contextual and real-time information, and streamlines operational technology systems.

Figure 1: Innovative services in IoT will drive the development of allied ecosystems within a city. (Source: https://iotweek.blob.core.windows.net)

This multi-sector adoption of IoT enables smart cities to interact and engage with citizens, providing value and personalised assistance. For instance, sensors in bus bays can help in identifying people with special needs, alert the bus driver, and communicate to the passenger about the approximate time of the vehicle’s arrival. Apart from personalised attention and value creation, IoT can help reduce the cost of energy, resources, and maintenance by up to 30 percent. In about a year’s time, large commercial sones, industrial parks, and gated communities will turn to IoT services for meeting all their requirements.

For businesses, IoT presents both disruptive and transformational potential. They have no choice about whether to embrace IoT or not. The coming days will witness increased Smart Digitalisation across sectors—healthcare, transportation, agriculture, etc. as IoT adoption is the only way forward for society.

5 BENEFITS OF TELECOMMUTING

Smartphones and connectivity have not only made mobile workspaces possible but also ensured increased levels of productivity even outside office. Mobile working is no longer a trend practiced by the cash-strapped startups or global conglomerates: it is now a necessity and an asset in enterprises of all sizes across industries. By adopting mobile strategies, businesses are able to extend their operations, reach to potential new clients, improve response rates, and gather real-time insight and reports.

Thanks to its rapid strides in infrastructure development and connectivity, Kerala is looking forward to tapping these businesses to invest in the state. By stressing on its human capital, infrastructure and locational advantages, Kerala highlights its potential for offering a more harmonised work environment. With changing work patterns and business requirements, companies have a strong desire for providing a real quality of life in office environment, especially because the thin red line between professional and personal lives continues to slim. Let’s take a look at how telecommuting and mobility creates opportunities for business –

1.Improvement in Communication & Collaboration

As telecommuting and hot desk programs are becoming the norm, many companies are offering employees more flexibility at work. This has not blunted any communication ability; instead, it has spurred global collaboration with associates, contacts and affiliates. In any given company today, the frequency of online conference calls is far higher than that of physical meetings at the workplace. Various online conferencing tools have only added to the ease and lure of collaborating from remote locations. Advancements in technology have led to a rethinking of office environments and behaviours for teamwork, including the well-being of employees.

2.Flexibility in Working Environment

By 2020, a large chuck of workforce across industries will be mobile, and this will have a positive impact on productivity. This impact will be in part due to the transparency and flexibility of telecommuting. Mobile devices allow for interaction between different stakeholders, storing and sharing information in real-time. Such levels of flexibility help in creating a more engaged workplace.

3.Reduction in Communication Overheads

The benefits of mobility in the workplace go beyond increased productivity and enhanced communication to create a reduction in overhead costs, as reports state that mobility helps companies save up to 25% in voice and data costs. With the help of one mobile device, staff can access company data, send emails, reserve meeting spaces and do a lot more than our older, bulky PCs, desk phones, and hardware could.

4.IoT-enabled Personalisation in Environment

With IoT, companies are able to meet the requirements of both the customers and workforce with a high-level of personalisation. Ignoring this trend will cost organisations not only in productivity but also in the loss of the industry’s best and brightest talents. In fact, it is becoming more commonplace for staff to consider mobile policies, such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, when choosing which company to work for.

5.Increased in Revenue Potential

Mobility fosters interactions among all stakeholders, thus giving the required impetus for employee empowerment and customer engagement. It also helps in resolving customer issues in near real-time, helping organisations to reach higher levels of success and growth.

For ensuring the success of their mobility strategies, organisations must consider including mobile devices, applications, cloud-enabled services, and software in their workflow. Mobility will help in addressing operational issues, managing organisational challenges, automating routine processes, and ensuring real-time reporting.

Self-Driving Cars, Heading Our Way

What are self-driving vehicles?

Self-driving cars are robotic vehicles capable of navigating to a destination without human assistance. Although most of these cars do well under controlled environment, they do require a human in the driver’s seat to take control at any time. These vehicles use a variety of advanced control systems to identify the environment and interpret information.

How do self-driving cars work?

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The driver sets a destination on the car’s system, which then calculates the best possible routes and seeks your sign-off.

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High-precision sensors do a 60-meter range scan of the current environment and relay the information to the car. This creates a dynamic 3D map.

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Sensors on the wheels detect the car’s position and other objects relative to the 3D map. Radar systems on the anterior and posterior sides continuously calculate distances of vehicles, pedestrians, etc.

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The car’s system controls the speed and navigation based on dynamic inputs from the sensors and radars.

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Fully automatic braking system is integrated within the car’s intelligence unit.

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A manual override function helps the driver to take control of the vehicle when circumstances demand.

Benefits of Self-Driving Cars

Self-driving vehicles are defining the future of mobility in many developed societies. The advantages offered by this vehicle technology are so critical that they are influencing the future of transport.

  • These vehicles can be programmed to follow traffic rules and help in reducing accidents.
  • Programmable driving makes traffic conditions are more predictable; in other words, you can reach your destination at the scheduled time due to smoother traffic and less congestion.
  • This technology helps in creating a cleaner, safer and more efficient system of transportation.

Although self-driven cars have long been shown in sci-fi movies, major developments have taken place in this technology that some nations have passed legislation to allow such vehicles to operate legally on public roads. This technology, now embraced by all major corporations, has the backing of governments as well, a factor that will make self-driving cars more commonplace.