Monday, October 15, 2018

NFC Tag in Cafe Ekante: "Shortening the wait time at Cafe Ekante dinner"



NFC table cards at Cafe Ekante
The time between ordering the food at a restaurant and the apparent unending time before your food arrives can now be shortened, psychologically. NFC based table cards make your wait interesting now at Cafe Ekante at Eco Island, Eco Park, New town, Kolkata.

After you have decided the menu and placed the orders, and after the conversation dies down, and after you are done with several selfies you glance at the TV suspended from the ceiling. But soon you are bored again, getting hungrier. To entertain you, take help of the NFC quadrant on your dining table.



If you have a NFC enabled mobile hold your phone near any of the quadrant's page to choose news or sports or entertainment. The phone browser will start playing the channel chosen in your mobile, using the WiFi of Cafe Ekante. Remember to put "NFC ON/OFF" switch in your settings to NFC ON. See https://nfc.today/advice/nfc-enabled-phones#phonelist to check if your phone has NFC capability. Please remember that even if your phone is on the list of NFC enabled phones, you may have to (1) download an Apps and (2) enable NFC in settings as already mentioned above.

If you don't have  NFC in your mobile use the scan the QR code printed on the quadrant. The output is the same.

The innovation is done by Oorjamatics ( See http://www.oorjamatic.com/ ) .

Mr Raja Guha, Co-Founder Oorjamatics, explanting to me the NFC concept at
Cafe Ekante last week


Sunday, September 30, 2018

Bengal Silicon Valley Hub

"Foundation Stone of Bengal Silicon Valley Hub, a major milestone in IT infrastructure of the state, was laid today at New Town, Kolkata": Mamata Banerjee's Tweet on 13.8.2018.
Last Friday, on 28th September 2018, the notice inviting Expression of Interest was published. The cryptic notice published in newspapers read as follows:


The link to the document is http://wbhidcoltd.com/uploads/tender/Tender_2144.pdf . A good summary article appeared in Times of India on 29.9.2018. This was as follows:


The Silicon Valley site is located near Akankhya More / Gate 4 Eco Park. Its area is 200 acres. 24 plots of various sizes are offered at a special price to International and National Tech companies. Annual turnover of Rs 500 cr and presence in 10 states (for national cos) and 3 continents (US, Europe, Asia-Pacific) for International companies. Pre bid will be held on 10 Oct. Last date is 31 Oct. Application money is Rs 25 lakhs.
Projects must start within six months of allotment. It must be completeed within 3 years. If not, the land will be taken back and occupation charges will be levied.
There will be other phases too to accommodate other sectors of the IT&E spectrum. The idea is to go from big companies and then to medium and smaller ones in phases.
A 5 acre plot is earmarked for commercial activities which will be allotted at market prices in due course.
Govt of West Bengal is trying to tie up with international consultants to get the best strategy in moving forwards.
As per the IT&E Policy, the IT&E Department is enhancing its role as a catalyst and also trying up with Academic Institutions (IIT, MAKAUT, University of Kolkata, IIIT, NIT, ISI etc)  and Chambers of Commerce ( CII, BCCI, NASSCOM, ICC, MCCI etc) for setting up Centres of Excellence and for helping startups in areas ranging from IPRs to Financing.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in New Town

New Town is a Gold Rated certified Green City. It got the certificate from IGBC (Indian Green Building Council) recently. New Town is a city under the State Govt's Green City Mission.
New Town has been approved as one of the 100 Smart Cities of India.

It has three electric AC buses running successfully for the last four months within New Town: already more than 35,000 passengers have used it. It has e-Rickshaw stands and in the Bengalathon 2019 contest (now open: see https://bengalathon.wb.gov.in/ ) one of the problem statements relate to "Toto on Call". I myself use an electric e2o small vehicle for official works within Kolkata.
The idea of all these is to reduce carbon emissions and move towards a cleaner, greener sustainable  environment.

The idea is to encourage more and more people to use e-Vehicles. But electric vehicles (2, 3 or 4 wheelers) all suffer from "charge anxiety" where there is a worry about what would happen if charge suddenly runs out. For example , the e-car that I use to go to Nabanna from Hidco and back is just ok for a single charge (120 km) but I constantly monitor the battery power remaining. It would help if while I did my work at the destination the charge in the vehicle could be topped-up. A full charge requires 5 hours though.

There are fewer e-vehicles as there are no charging stations. There are no charging stations because there is no demand from e-vehicles. To change this chicken-n-egg problem, NKDA decided to put up few charging stations at suitable locations. These are just being commissioned.

Charging Station for Electric Vehicles 
near Rabindra Tirtha
Ten such charging stations have been installed, mostly near parking zones so that the e-car may get top up charge while waiting. Locations are at Parking lots near Rabindra Tirtha (see pic above, Tata Medical Centre, Nazrul Tirtha, Gates 1/ 4/ 6 of Eco Park,  Café Ekante. Axis Mall, Eco Urban Village and Central Mall.

In addition, Indian Oil's COCO (Company Operated Company Owned) smart outlet at Action Area 3 also has electric vehicle charging units. And for running the e-Buses, three heavy duty charging stations are located at bus terminal near Pride Hotel, AA3 Bus Stand near Sukhobristi and Eco Urban Village in AA2.




Sunday, September 2, 2018

Great Indian Dessert Festival in December 2018 at Misti Hub

Yesterday, at Hidco Conference room, I took a review of two months' performance of Misti Hub. The main objective was to wean away the complimentary support given by Hidco in terms of house keeping, security guards, care-taking, common services and also prepare for the ensuing festival season.

I was told that most shops had done very good business in the two months since Mist Hub opened. Several lakhs of rupees' worth business was transacted on both months and all were advised to contribute to the expenses incurred on common services.

We decided that by Viswakarma Puja day on 17 September, we should converge on few planned interventions to spread the footprint of Misti Hub. Some actions agreed to with all owners of the Misti Hub were as follows:

1. Home Delivery through Swiggy, Zomato etc would be tried
2. Office / corporate packet menu (assorted sweets, in packets, for distribution in short meetings) would be suggested by all Misti Hub shops
3. For common branding, a special prestige carry bag would be designed with Misti Hub logo. This would be of cloth or jute and of three sizes small, medium and large. Would be kept centrally at reception counter and any shop or guest may buy it from Hidco person on duty. Own bags of shops would also carry Misti Hub logo along with their own logo, either on the same side or on the reverse
4. The racks on the right / north side would be replaced by chairs to make more room for sitting
5. Bus branding would be made to spread the word on Misti Hub
6. TV displays in each shop would display menu and graphics would be provided to Hidco for installation.
7. Eco Park visitors would be given, on some days, a discount coupon if all shops of Misti Hub agreed (they said they would think, discuss and revert)
5. A special "Great Indian Dessert Festival" would be organised in December by a private organiser where Hidco/ Misti Hub would be a venue partner. This will be held in the bike stand behind Misti Hub. The organiser has already started campaign in social media and this is their title page graphics on Facebook:

The idea is to enhance the 'sweetness' of the area around Misti Hub by invoking sweet tastes from around the world. More such Misti Events would be held in future.


Few administrative points were also discussed. Co-ordinating nodal person would be assigned on rotation basis every three months (first has been K C Dass), hygiene/ cleanliness/ plastic cap for shop assistants/ insistence on uniform T shirt with Misti Hub Logo, nudging customers to throw their leftovers and used plates into the dust-bins themselves.


Monday, August 20, 2018

Own a residential plot in New Town? Open a foodie at ground floor.

Cake shop in New Town
On 8th August 2018, the 41st meeting of the NKDA Board took a decision that allows you to easily set up a tea bar or a cafe or a food joint on the ground floor of your residential home in New Town. Soft Drink Shop, Snack Bar, Tea/Coffee Shop, Ice-Cream shop, Dry Food Shop are the preferred options. A permission and a nominal fee is required, and a trade licence too, but it is quite easy and costs little.

Restaurant below a residential house
 This is to encourage commercial activity, create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunity, bring life to city space and improve a sense of safety to late night passers-by when the shops are open.

This is in addition to the roadside cafes being built by NKDA/HIDCO (Cafe Ekante Express at Chinar Park and AA1 bus terminus), Biriyani Bars atop pay-n-use toilets at three places (Rotary 1, Mela Ground and Gate 3 Eco Park), Misti Hub (near Owl More), Mother Dairy (near Tata Medical Centre and Swapna Bhor), Gautam's (at Cybersecurity Building), Annapurna (Sweet Shop on residential property), Eco Space / Kolkata Gate (planned), community markets (old police station and TCS Gitanjali).

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

New Town now a Certified Green City

New Town Kolkata is now a Green City. It got a Gold Certificate from IGBC (Indian Green Building Council) recently. The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) is part of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and tries to enable a sustainable built environment for all. It is one of the two organizations whose green building certification is accepted by the State Government for award of additional FAR (Floor Area Ratio) . The IGBC also rates towns and cities for 'greenness'

New Town is a Solar City. It is one of the 100 Smart Cities of India. It is trying to be a Happy City and is collaborating with IIT Kharagpur in this. It is covered under the Green City Mission of the State Government. Meanwhile, WBHIDCO had voluntarily submitted itself to IGBC to see how far it is already proceeded in the matter of sustainability and environment-friendliness. On 20th July 2018, I received a letter from the IGBC stating that New Town has been awarded a Gold Rating. Here is the certificate:
For getting the rating, IGBC considers the following:
1. Eco Vision of the City
2. Land Use Planning
3. Health and Well Being
4. Sustainable Mobility
5. Water, Energy and Infrastructure Management
6. Information Technology
7. Innovation

In respect of 'Innovation', special mention has been made of Water ATMs (now three in Eco Park), bamboo railings for medians, Tall Tree Nursery (joint venture of WBHIDCO and Forest Department Corporation) and Pocket Forests. In respect of 'Information Technology', special mention has been made of GPS based Vehicle Tracking for effective Solid Waste Management, Automatic Controls for all street lights, e-Governance (property tax, certificates, building plans etc all are done on-line in New Town). In respect of Sustainable Mobility, e-Buses (now three) have been mentioned.

Few suggestions for improvement have also been given. For example, to achieve heat island mitigation, IGBC has recommended that high reflective roofing material or vegetation may be used on exposed roofs whenever possible. It has mentioned that public buildings should all be made barrier-free for differently abled persons.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Roundtable Meeting of AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) on Sustainable Cities

I am now in Mumbai, since yesterday evening. This is in response to an invitation from Dr. Joachim von Amsberg, AIIB Vice President for Policy & Strategy. Details of the event can be seen at https://www.aiib.org/en/news-events/events/annual-meeting/program/detail/sustainable-cities-strategy.html

The roundtable conference on Sustainable Cities took place today morning at Mumbai. Experts from Sri Lanka, HongKong, China, Singapore, Korea and India (that was me) spoke. They were interested in   focusing on how AIIB could better support infrastructure development in cities. They invited two groups of stakeholders, including senior city representatives (i.e. vice mayor for finance) and senior practitioner experts (e.g. CEO of HK MTR, VP of Shanghai Municipal Investment Corp, Veolia, and Korea Public and Private Infrastructure Investment Center). AIIB hopes to use the roundtable opportunity to establish first contact with the cities, and followed by continued interaction to explore possible collaboration. Details can be seen in the link above.

Lady opposite to me is Mayor of Colombo

Right: Vice President of AIIB
AIIB said they wanted to be different from World Bank, ADB etc and so wanted to understand new approaches including looking at city level models that have been successful. I narrated the journey of New Town and indicated how it was progressing towards a green city, an IT city with Silicon Valley. I suggested that AIIB could look at technology, electric cars etc and also mentioned that a pre-feasibility study for Monorail has been done. I invited Vice President to visit Kolkata.

I mentioned that New Town was a qualified Smart City among the 100 smart cities of India, that it was a Solar City designing to cut down carbon emissions, a Technology City with Fintech Hub and Silicon Valley Project launched, an inclusive city with care for the young and old, a densified city with additional FAR for optimum utilization of land, and was trying to, with IIT, move towards a Happy City. I invited AIIB to consider funding of technology infrastructure - including high speed broadband, electric vehicle charging network,  and monorail.

In the afternoon follow up, I learnt how shops and well-lit bus stops add to a feeling of security in deserted streets in some cities, and how, in these days of easy movement of capital and workforce, the quality of life and social infrastructure make investment decisions sway one way or the other.


Friday, June 8, 2018

Indo-Taiwan Cooperation : At Taipei, Taiwan

On the occasion of Computex 2018 at Taipei, Taiwan a special seminar was organised today at Taipei. The Chief Secretary Govt of Taiwan, the Secretary General of the Indo-Taiwan Association and the Director General of India as well as CII and many delegates from India and Taiwan were present. On behalf of West Bengal I made a presentation, the only state to do so.

I invited all to visit Bengal, provided statistics, video and graphs to show how Bengal has been making rapid strides in IT&E sector. I mentioned that Kolkata was the closest international airport of India for Taiwanese investors. I mentioned that Bengal was power surplus, with no lost mandays in last 6 years and was the top state in India in Ease of Doing Business.

A booklet on IT&E in West Bengal was, on my request, released at the conference by the Chief Secretary of Taiwan.

Many subsequent speakers thereafter began to refer to Bengal's progress as an example as to why Taiwan should look at India.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Iconic Eco Park Bridge

Design of Bridge Between Herbal Garden and Eco Island

Zone  no 31 of Master Plan showwed a Bridge:  December 2011

Bridge as shown in Master Plan
The island has evolved differently in the past 5 years. There are Ekante Cottages, Cafe Ekante and
Utsari Glass Cottage. It is a popular wedding, corporate and tourism destination.
The Board of Hidco met yesterday and approved construction of an iconic, designer, suspension bridge to connect the 7 acre Eco Island with the Eco Park. At a point where the gap is narrowest, on the northern end of the island. This was the location of the proposed bridge as per the Master Plan drawn up in 2011-2012. Till date, the connectivity is maintained - other than by boat - by a two-step wooden bridge. Two step because it connects a small intermediate island in between. With continued use, and especially with increasing use by battery powered vehicles (eco carts or cargo totos) for ferrying senior guests or for carrying goods (you need to take in food stuff and stocks daily and take out wastes), the wooden bridge is not expected to be sufficient in future. Already, an expert group from the Department of Irrigation and Waterways has done a health check and has recommended re-paintings with thick bitumen for logs which are under water.

The new bridge will be of concrete and steel. It will be an iconic suspended bridge, of length 135 m and width 3.5m. While approving the proposal, Hidco Board stressed on the need for making the structure match the character of Eco Park.

Tenders will be invited soon.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Biodiversity in Eco Park


We are currently undertaking a stock of the bio-diversity in Eco Park. Already, upon completion of 5 years of Eco Park, we have published a photo-booklet entitled "Echoing Green: A Five Year Journey" (Published by Hidco, Price Rs 50). Now with the help of forest department and NGOs, we are documenting the bio-diversity of eco park.

The initial findings show that in addition to the many dozens of types of butterflies in the Butterfly Park of Eco Park, there are three species of mammals, 24 species of birds and 17 species of fish in Eco Park.

Among the butterflies, some varieties are Blue Mormon, Commander, Lemon Pansy, Blue Pansy, Grey Pansy, Common Leopard, Mormon, Lime Butterfly, Common Rose, Tailed Jay and others. Among the birds are Stock Billed Kingfisher, While-bellied Woodpecker, Bengal Bush Lark, Rufous-Tailed Lark, Rock Bush Quail, Indian Blackbird, Green Munia,Malabar Whistling Thrush, Indian Grass Bird, Striated Babbler, Indian Blue Robin and others. Spotted and barking deer are there in Harinalaya. Many Indian Palm Squirrels are present as also many species of insects and ants some of which are fire ant, argentine ant, pharaoh's ant etc.

Among the trees, there are Pink Cassia, Burmese Cassia, Sasage Tree, Variegate Bakul, Fern eaf Tree, Red Sandalwood, Yellow bottle brush and 62 varieties of fruit trees such as mango, jamrul, jam, banana, grapes, chickoo, pomegranate etc. There are 23 varieties of bamboos in the Bamboo garden and in the heliconia garden there are species such as Lobster Claw, Parrot's Flower, Metal Leaf,Spider Lily etc. There is an orchid garden and a cactus enclave too. There is a Hibiscus GardenThe Japanese Forest has species that are related to some in Japan as suggested by a Japanese Professor from Tokyo. Rabi Aranya has plants and trees mentioned in Tagore's literary works. The tropical rain forest has large tropical trees of many kinds. The huge lake is dotted with coconut trees, boguvillia, palm trees and date treesThe Banglar Gran enclave has common vegetables and cereals. The Herbal garden has 241 varieties of herbs.
Signage outside Herbal Garden


A five acre plot near Banglar Haat, called Pakhibitan, has been created as a virgin marshy eco system for insects, birds, lizards and reptiles and fish too.

The study of the biodiversity is as yet incomplete. We are trying to do a documentation in a professional manner by expert groups led by the forest department


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Eldercare in New Town

India's elderly population will grow dramatically by mid-century. A quiet crisis is building up. India's population's 8.5% is 60 plus (10.39 crores in 2016). Bengal also has 8.5% elderly population while Kerala tops the list at 12.3%.Life expectancy at 60 is 16.9 (male) and 19 (female).   Elder population is growing @3.5% per year, double the rate for the population as a whole. UK has recently, in January 2018, appointed a Loneliness Minister to take care of the mental health issues of living alone, especially for the old. No wonder, many elderly care institutions are coming up in the corporate private sector such as Antara in Dehradun (Rs 1 crore to Rs 7 crore per apartment), The Nest, Bhopal (Rs 36 lakhs to 75 lakhs per apartment) .

Keeping this in view, an independent and assisted living luxury hotel-like eldercare home is being built in New Town, near Swapna Bhor, Seniors' Park. Seniors' Park has already got a membership of 700 plus who are engaged in weekly cultural functions, health camps, games and recipe competitions, outdoor tours and travel, book releases and more. The eldercare habitat "Snehodiya" members will get to become members of Seniors' Park automatically. The first phase of application kit sale will close on 31 May 2018 while the last date of deposit is 30 June 2018. The application mney is Rs 1 lakh while air-conditioned rooms start from Rs 25 lakhs up to 50 lakhs, 75% of which is refundable on vacating (without interest) to the nominated person. See http://wbhidcoltd.com/uploads/announcement/Ann635.pdf for e-brochure and details. Kits can be purchased / deposited at select Axis Bank branches.

I visited Snehodiya last week. One demonstration room is almost complete. Here is a snapshot on my mobile:
See my silhouette on the glass reflection ! 
The guest house is also nearing completion. Project should be ready by Deember 2018 as per present estimates.

Yesterday, there was a photo shoot with Soumitra Chatterjee who will be our brand ambassador for Snehodiya. Here is a photo on my mobile of the photo shoot that took place yesterday.


Saturday, May 5, 2018

Awareness Camps on Property Tax Starts

Property Tax has been introduced from this FY 2018-19 in New Town on the Unit Area Assessment system. Already more than 3,500 self assessments have been filed on-line and almost 3,000 residents have made tax payments. Many persons are visiting the help desk at the new 5th floor Property Tax Office in Action Area 1 (located near water tank no.3). However, a fresh drive is being taken to reach out to the residents throughout the month of May as penalty will be levied unless the tax for the first quarter is paid by 2 June 2018. A schedule has been drawn up for the camps in various parts of New Town (for details, see  https://www.nkdamar.org/Downloads/Order03052018.pdf ).

An FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) is also uploaded on NKDA's website for clarification of doubts (See https://www.nkdamar.org/Pages/AssessmentPropertyTax_FAQ.aspx )

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Smart Library for New Town: Design Starts

Site of Smart Library in Nazrul Tirtha, New Town
How does one design a smart library in this digital age where e-books are abundant (https://books.google.co.in/ ), sometimes free, while the Kindles of the world have made books almost obsolete? Is there a need for a book library at all? These were some of the questions discussed in a brainstorming session held yesterday with Dr Arun Chakraborty, DG National Library, Ms Arundhati Biswas, former US resident and officers of Hidco and NKDA.

We concluded that a good public library also serves as a social meeting point and I recalled that a National Geographic documentary had shown how San Diego city turned itself over into a smart city based on the a great Central  Library that was created with public participation and contribution. Here is the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAjznAJe5uQ (see, especially, from 4minute onwards).

In Swapna Bhor, the Seniors' Park in New Town, a beautiful library has been in operation for the last few years. This uses a model that has an attached coffee shop, a newspaper and magazine reading space, several books for borrowing, and, the most interesting, an opportunity to buy latest books at a small discount through an arrangement with the book store Story:

Library Room in Swapna Bhor: Lending, Reading and Selling

We concluded that there should be priced e-books and e-subscriptions, e-readers like Kindles that can be borrowed, audio books, CDs/ DVDs and Online resources, Digital Archives, information centres and career guidance corners along with newspapers, magazines and a coffee shop. I recalled the ambiance of Cavilam, Vichy, France that I often went to during my training at ENA, France:

Image result for cavilam library vichy
Cavilam Library has Digital Wing on first floor,
books and magazines and reading spaces on
ground floor

We agreed that there would be a children's section, colourful and vibrant. I remembered the public library in France where the kids section had a great comic section:

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "la mediatheque comme 3 eme lieu de vie"
Photo from internet:  Comic Books in Children's Section of a Library
in France
We decided to form an advisory committee consisting of Arun Chakraborty DG National Library and DG Rammohun Library Foundation and a resident of New Town, Dhrubajyoti Chattopadhyay, Vice Chanellor of Amity University New Town, Anuradha Biswas, past US resident and resident of New Town and officers of Hidco / Nkda. We would expand the committee further.

Meanwhile, we requested Chief Engineer Supriyo Bagchi, GM(Engg)2 Arup Ghosh and Consulting Architect Parineeta Hati to make some layout plans that can be discussed in the next meeting of the Advisory Committee.
* * *
Some of the suggestions received in the brainstorming session included the following written suggestion by Ms Biswas:
* * *
Goals
1. Make available all information and resources to every member across all age groups.
2. Provide a quiet and safe place for study, reading and constructive use of leisure time.
3. Conduct activities that strengthen community bonds through socio-cultural and educational development.

Divisions

1. General Section
a) Open shelves for easy access to books, AV material, magazines
   b) Adequate seating
c) Public computing area with PCs and a printer machine                         
2. Children’s section
a) Shelf heights suitable for children
b) Colourful furniture, floor rugs
c) A storytelling corner
3. Teen services -
a) Seating to enable group study/project
b) Caters to middle school and high school children (classes 6 to 12)
4. Events and workshop corner
5. Cafeteria
Library Plus Activities
1. Events for children can be held – a workshop, storytelling session, documentary show etc.
2. A ‘Friends of the Library’ program under which volunteers sign up to assist the library management regularly in maintaining the library and conducting activities, thus involving the community at large.
3. An ‘Over-reach service’ under which a weekly mobile van carries books to senior citizens’ complexes in Newtown.
4. An annual book sale of old books from the library can be done.
5. The atmosphere of the library should be warm and welcoming.
6. Career counselling for students may be organised.
7. High school and college students may be allowed to volunteer their services from time to time against a certificate for community service.



   


Monday, April 30, 2018

Smart Street Railing

The familiar green bamboo railings of New Town are a familiar sight. The design of the railings are tweaked from time to time at the times of annual maintenance. The railings serve several purposes like protecting the street median plantations and preventing pedestrians from crossing the streets indiscriminately.
Of late, the traffic police has requested that since these bamboo railings are easily damaged and are easily uprooted if forced, especially in areas where pedestrians have a tendency to cross wide streets at prohibited zones, permanent steel fencing could be arranged in suitable phases.
That set us on a design think process. I was looking at several options that would reflect the character of New Town, with its Wi Fi and OFC networks, smart water networks and tall buildings and metro railways. I had several rounds of discussions with Abin Choudhury, the architect founder of  "Kolkata Architecture Foundation" (KAF), who readily agreed to join me and help develop a smart urban railing for streets of New Town.
Here is the design:
Design of Futuristic Street Railing of New Town: Courtesy KAF
(Note the simulation of tall buildings and coloured squares representing closed networks)
A prototype is being built at the roundabout near Eco Space / Gitanjali Park of TCS. We will further refine once fully implemented and then roll out in other areas in consultation with traffic police. Here is the photo, taken today, painting yet to be done:


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Artificial Intelligence in New Town

A one day Knowledge Exchange workshop on AI will be held on 18 May 2018 at Biswa Bangla Convention Centre at New Town. Dr P P Chakraborty, Director IIT Kharagpur will deliver the keynote address. Hon'ble MIC (IT&E) will inaugurate. Topics covered will be AI in Business, AI in Governance, AI in Industry (Industry 4.0), Deep Learning and a panel discussion on Capacity Building. Speakers will come from - besides IIT Kgp - ISI, PwC, Wipro, IBM and others. Although the workshop day is two weeks away, all 400 seats are already full by online applications and , on popular request, a wait-listing mechanism is also introduced. ( see AI Registration )We will evaluate the situation next week to see if we should go for a larger hall in BBCC.

With PRM Fincon Team at The Terminus, New Town yesterday (28 April 2018)
To understand actual use case developments of AI in Bengal, I went to the workspace of PRM Fincon yesterday (http://www.prmfincon.com ). This is located at 4th floor of the building where Pride Hotel is located: the building is called The Terminus. Mr Prithwiraj Mukherjee, CEO (in full sleeved white shirt to the left of me in the photo above) and his team gave me a longish demonstration of what they do.

Basically, they use AI to analyse risk profile of companies and thus advise investors to invest wisely. In addition, they use AI together with IoT to predict possible failures in heavy industrial machines so that timely corrections can be taken and thus reduce idle time (upto 30%, they said, in respect of a use case in an Australian coal mine). They use recurrent neural networks with back propagation and LSTM (Long Short Term Memory).

I also found that they are working on video analytics and their laboratory level prototype is already able to use AI (based on Python code) to analyse CCTV feeds to flag if vehicles were crossing lanes and if a two-wheeler rider is wearing a helmet or not and  whether it is a soft cap or a proper hard helmet. I thought this would be a great case to improve the road safety in accordance with Hon'ble CM's "Safe Drive, Save Life" campaign and I asked Mr Mukherjee to see if this could be developed further and used in New Town's CCTVs in a pilot use case.

I also invited Mr Pritwiraj Mukherjee to talk very briefly about the coal drilling machine use case on the 18th Workshop.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Avenue Plantation

Recently we decided to change our plantation strategy for New Town a bit.
Earlier, we concentrated on large areas of plantation, whenever space for greening was available. This included broad road medians near Eco Space, near Eco Urban Village and also other planned green areas in all nooks and corners. Last year, during monsoons, we planted 65,000 trees. The year before, 50,000 trees.
This year we have decided to concentrate on replacement of saplings on existing green zones which have nor survived. A survey is being done by forest directorate at our request to find out the extent (10-15% as per preliminary estimate) of replacement necessary. Mending of bamboo fences will also receive a focus.
The second strategy would be to concentrate on roadside trees - avenue plantation, on all major roads. This could not have been done earlier as Metro construction was in progress in large stretches. Now, though Metro works are still continuing, especially in the station areas, many stretches such as the one near Pride Hotel / Novotel have recently been opened to traffic as per original road alignment. The avenue plantation would be sourced mostly from the Tall Tree Nursery that has come up in a 5 acre land at Action Area 1D not far from Tata Medical Centre : the Tall Tree Nursery is a joint initiative of Hidco and Forest Department's Wasteland Development Corporation. Quality saplings up to 4-5 feet are available there.
We would, however, concentrate on slender trees, trees that do not spread out in a canopy when grown because these would obstruct street lights and vision of drivers. Pine trees, 'debdaru', 'sonajhuri', Asian Cherry Blossoms, palm trees and coconut trees are on my radar but experts say that before finalising the species of trees, they would have to test the soil for suitability (I remebered that for the tea garden in Eco Park, Andrew Yule sourced earth from their North Bengal tea gardens as existing soil was not suitable for tea bushes).
Foxtrot Palm Trees as Avenue Plantation : One Choice
(This picture in Harinalaya)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Notification for Cattle Free Roads

In terms of notification number 1228-UD/)/M/HID/41-02/2017 dated 20.4.2018 of the State Govt in UD&MA Department, the amendment to the NKDA Act vide NKDA (Amendment) Act 2018 comes into effect from 20.4.2018.

The Amendment was passed in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly in March 2018 and after following the procedures and after getting the assent of the Governor, the amendment has been made effective.  As per this amendment, if any cattle, horse, pig, dog or any other animal or bird is kept on any land or premises in contravention of the provisions or is found straying, the chairman may direct any officer or employee of the NKDA authority to seize them. I will hold a meeting at NKDA office on Wednesday 25th to take steps to make operational the amended portion of the Act

In order to keep the seized animals with care, a cattle shed and a pet creche have recently been constructed in New Town. The cattle shed has facilities for feeding the animals, a small adminisrative office and an open ground for the cattle to graze. The area is spread over 3 acres, is located in Action Area 1D and action is being taken to frame draft rules regarding fees and procedure to be followed in confining the animals and releasing them subsequently. The rules will then be notified in official gazette after following procedure. Meanwhile, a Veterinary Doctor and assisting staff are also to be selected and appointed, for which an advisory committee is already formed.

A pet creche, treatment centre and burial ground has also just been completed by Hidco and the property handed over to NKDA for commissioning and operations. Spread over 25 kottahs, there are 10 creches for pet dogs, a small walking lawn, a veterinary doctor chamber and, at the rear end, pits for 30 burials. Here too, a committee wthin NKDA is proposing draft rules for fees, staff, doctor and other procedures.

A workshop was held last week at Eco Park to sensitive staff and security guards on ways to deal with stray dogs in Eco park. (see photo below).  An NGO dealing with dog care and dog vaccination delivered useful insights. Engineers of Hidco have been advised to block gaps in the fencing of the park to prevent sneaking-in of stray dogs. Work to this effect has already started. Also started is weekly sterilization and immunization of stray dogs of New Town. Awareness is to be built not to scatter food left overs on the round so that dogs are not attracted. Bamboo shields and small fenced temporary holding areas have been advised to be kept ready for dealing with the occasional rogue dog. The stress was on making Eco Park dog-free without hurting them while saving children and visitors.

Workshop on Safe Dog Handling, at Eco Park, last Friday

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Mishti Hub Opening


The Mishti Hub is almost ready. Finishing touches will require a couple of weeks or so. The picture above is taken by the architect group Salient who has designed it. Construction is by Hidco. After inviting notice seeking expression of interest, the following brands have agreed to open outlets here. Interestingly, the conditions of the bid were hat the sweet shop had to be in operation for 25 years or more and that other things being equal, the more ancient outlet would be preferred over other younger ones:
Nalin Chandra Das
Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullik
Ganguram Sweets
Banchharam
K C Das
Hindustan Sweets
Gupta Brothers
Some others like Naba Krishna Guin have shown interest also and newer brands are also trying to get a slot.
Other than branded traditional sweet outlets, a special counter will be there for displaying on a rotating basis ethnic specialities from the districts, such as Saktigarh Lyangchya, Burdwan's Sitabhog/Mihidana, Berhampore's Chhanabora, Krishnanagsr's Sarpuria/ Sarbhaja etc.

Counter for Ethnic District Specialities
Each counter for branded sweets will have a glass front showcase freezer, a backroom for storage and a rear entry for supplies. Each counter will have its own cash counter and packaging but near the exit there will be a security check and a Mishti Hub wrapper. A shop-in-shop concept. There will be tall tables for eating inside.

Shops in Mishti Hub
 There is a Mishti Hub Office where a caretaker will be there on behalf of Hidco to manage the facilities.
A central attrium will glass walls bring in sunlight inside. Cast iron carvings outside remind one of the old Calcutta charm, the old sweet traditions of Bengal. On front side, a drive in lane allows shoppers free parking for a limited period (30 minutes), enough to shop and taste.
Front parking: being readied

The Mishti Hub is located on Biswa Bangla Sarani (Major Arterial Road) on way to airport, on left side so that tourists leaving Kolkata by air can carry the fresh and best sweets. It is located close to the Seven Wonders, near Gate 3 of Eco Park

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Heat Wave

The National disaster Management Authority has issued an advisory recently in their letter number 1-38/2016-PP dt 7.3.2018 that the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted a heat wave in 2018 till May 2018. The seasonal average maximum, minimum and mean temperatures will be above normal. While the extent will vary in different states, the maximum temperature anomalies in West Bengal are likely to be between 0.5 deg and 1 deg.
On receiving this through the State Department of Disaster Management and Civil Defence, I held a meeting with Hidco, NKDA and PHED officers. Some of the measures we decided were as follows:
1. Construction of bus sheds at three points (opposite to Techno India College, at road crossing near Westin and near Owl More junction)

Existing temporary bus stand Hidco Bhavan

2. Construct two additional water ATMs near Gate 1 (Rabi Aranya) and Gate 3 (Mishti Hub) of Eco Park.  (There are two Water ATMs already near Gate 2 and & Wonders)
3. Mobilise through PHE Department Water Pouches (as we see in Kolkata Book Fair) in certain pockets of Eco Park.
4. Advise road repair and other construction agencies to keep ORS for workers and work in evening shifts with lights when possible

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Blockchain: Genesis to Congress

Of the various emerging technologies like AI, ML, IoT, VR, Robotics, Industry 4.0, Fintech and Blockchain, perhaps Blockchain is the most fundamental mover and there are still ways in which the government, the industry and the academicians are trying to grapple with it. It is fiendishly complex to explain the basics, that consist of encryption and hash values, distributed ownership and consenus, proof of work and a difficulty level that increases with machine power.

Like last month's knowledge workshop on Cybersecurity (a great success of IT&E Deptt/ Wbeidc/ Nasscom Kolkata , where 350+ participants attended), a Blockchain Knowledge Workshop will be organised next week, on 13th April 2018 (Thursday) at the Biswa Bangla Convention Centre. The IT&E Department with Wbeidc/ Nasscom would be driving it, in addition to the group Bengal Blockchain Believers. Already more than 450 registrations have poured in (fully on-line) and the process has had to be closed. Since there are 400 seats in the hall, a preliminary scrutiny is being done and confirmation mails are being sent.

The name of this event is Genesis: signifying the originating block of any blockchain, marking a beginning for Bengal in 2018 which would be culminated in a Global Blockchain Congress in December 2018.

Designed Theme for Genesis Blockchain Knowledge Sharing Workshop 
(Design from web; yet to be created by us). Global Blockchain Congress planned in Dec 2018
Blockchain is not only for cryptocurrency.
It is for Central Bank originated digital currency.
It is for creating loyalty tokens.
It is for storing unchangeable historical data.
It is for recording transactions infallibly.
It is for crowdfunding projects through ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings)
It is for cybersecurity.
It is for Fintech.

The idea is to acquire skills on Blockchain and knowing use cases that can be replicated or modified.
The sequence of speakers for the workshop is as follows:
***
Blockchain Summit – Genesis
Date: 13th April, 2018
Time: 10:00 to 16:00
Venue: Biswa Bangla Convention Centre
  DG Block, Action Area I,
  New Town, Kolkata – 700156

Timing Agenda
09:00 – 10:00 Registration
10:00 – 10:05 Welcoming the dignitaries on stage by Managing Director, WBEIDC, Government of West Bengal
10:05 – 10:20 Welcome Address by Mr. Debashis Sen, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of  West Bengal
10:20 – 10:30 Address by Hon’ble MIC DIT&E, Government of West Bengal, Shri Bratya Basu
10:30 - 11:00 De-mystifying Blockchain by Mr. Diptiman Dasgupta (Bengal Blockchain Believers) & Mr. Debojyoti Das (Bengal Blockchain Believers)
11:00 - 11:30 Break (Tea / Coffee)
11:30 – 12:00 Speaker – Mr. Saurabh Bhattacharya (Director, PwC) on - Blockchain in Government | Future synergies
12:00 – 12:20 Speaker – Mr. Jitan Chandanani (Partner & Blockchain Leader, IBM) - Blockchain | India perspective
12:20– 13:00 Panel Discussion – How do Corporates envisage Blockchain technology (Entrepreneurs' View point)

Moderator Mr. Atul Agarwal (Chairman – NASSCOM East). Panelists- Mr. Rangin Lahiri (CEO, Qlikchain), Mr. Sugata Roy (CEO, Arodek), Mr. Avelo Roy (Founder, Kolkata Ventures), Mr. Anand Raje (Head of Internet Governance Initiatives, Cyber Peace Foundation)
13:00 – 13:45 Lunch Break
13-45 - 14:00 Blockchain Quiz
14:00 – 14:25 Speaker - Mr. Ramyanshu Datta (Program Director – Industry Solutions & Offering, IBM US) on Blockchain | A Global Scenario
14:25 – 14:45 Speaker – Mr. Debasis Pramanik (Vice President,  Accenture) on - Blockchain | A trusted backbone & driving force in the financial sector
14:45 - 15:30 Panel Discussion | How Blockchain can change the future of Fintech

Moderator Dr. Santanu Paul (Founder – TalentSprint). Panelists – Dr. Bimal Roy (Centre Head – RC Bose Center for Cryptology and Security, ISI), Mr. Vishal Anand Kanvaty (Senior Vice President, NPCI), Ms. Indrani Saha (Associate Vice President, CTS), Mr. Rajesh Dhuddu (Senior Vice President, Quatrro Processing Services)
15:30 - 15:40 Summarizing the takeaways by Mr. Ambarish Dasgupta (Senior Partner and Founder at Intueri consulting LLP)
15:40 - 16:00 Closing Note address by Mr. Debashis Sen, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of  West Bengal & Vote of Thanks


* * *
(Later)
See http://www.millenniumpost.in/kolkata/it-dept-to-organise-blockchain-tech-workshop-on-april-13-293595

Cooking Contest for Senior Citizens on Poila Baisakh

For the first time, a cooking - cum- recipe contest will be held at Swapna Bhor for Senior Citizens on Poila Baisakh (15 April 2018).
Two expert chefs from Cafe Ekante will judge the best dishes.
The members will bring in cooked food from their residences. After the judges reach their verdict, the food items will be available for all members for tasting.
Time: 5 pm

A large number of other resident-involved activities are also being planned for Poila Bousakh (15th April, Sunday) at New Town:

1. Special Buffet at Cafe Ekante, Eco Park Island

2. Special Lunch / Dinner at New Town Business Club

3. Special Cultural Function at Eco Island, Eco Park

4. Free documentary film show at Nazrul Tirtha Hall 3: 10 am: Satyen Bose
5. Cultural Event (Barshobaran) at Nazrul Tirtha by New Town Boimela Samity

6. Special Cultural Function at New Town Business Club



Thursday, April 5, 2018

Online Birth Registration begins in New Town

In terms of notification number 16554[KDA/Admn-1721201 dated :0410412017, online birth registration has been started for New Town by NKDA. Earlier, demand for birth registration was absent as no hospital in New Town had a Gynecology wing. Now with the commissioning of the  Bhagirathi Neotia Woman and Child Care Centre at New Town, requests are coming in. Hence the online system of birth registration has been started from yesterday.

Few features are as follows:

1. Completely online with provision for uploading the necessary documents.
2. Only two documents are required, i.e. Identity proof and hospital / doctor’s certificate of birth.
3. No need to visit the office. No paper works are needed to be done.
4. Electronically digitally signed certificates will be issued.
5. Simplified verification process.
6. Step by step intimation of the progress of the case through SMS and email.
7. Provision of tracking of application.
8. The applicant has to log on to www.nkdamar.org
9. Functional from 04-04-2018

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Corporate Corner for Big Property Tax Payers

In order to help and guide big taxpayers in respect of property tax payment - to be effective from Monday 2 April 2018 - a separate "Corporate Corner" in a smart new office has been set up by NKDA. A senior officer with a dedicated team will give exclusive attention to help the corporate entities in New Town to file their self assessment on-line. The strategy is to mop up large collections quickly. I am also writing letters to many business firms of New Town informing them of the special arrangements made for their convenience.

For all residents too, a systematic help desk arrangement has been made in the same premises, at Utility Building, 5th floor of AA-1, Street 24, New Town (the building is identifiable easily as being near Water Tank No 3 and has "Gautam's" restaurant on ground floor). At the 5th Floor, there is a reception and waiting area where dedicated officials will help address all visitors' queries one by one. A token system similar to that prevailing in many bank branches these days will make the visitor management smooth and easy while those waiting for their turns may watch the TV (soon to be installed) in comfort. Leaflets and standees will be distributed / displayed in many parts of New Town to create awareness. I along with CEO NKDA D Biswas and AO NKDA Debjit Ganguly inspected the arrangements and tweaked few arrangements.

Meanwhile, more than 50 Tax Sathis have been trained and are ready to help any resident for self-assessment and payment for first quarter or first year. For annual payments, a 5% rebate is allowed. Services of Tax Sathis can be availed by residents free of cost: they will be given an honorarium directly by NKDA. A dummy form has been devised to help fill up on-line form effortlessly. No physical forms or documents are to be submitted initially by anyone.
* * *
Some salient features of property tax in New Town:

> Based on Unit Area System of assessment
> Entire method would be in on-line mode based on two step mobile phone-OTP authentication process
> e-District Portal of Govt of West Bengal or NKDA website will take one to the opening page
> 5% rebate on timely payment of quarterly dues
> 5% rebate on yearly dues if paid in first quarter
> Self Assessment to be filed on-line by 2 June 2018
>Procedure for Self-Assessment :Step 1: Visit www.nkdamar.org and Click on “Assessment & Payment of Property Tax”...Step 2: After checking all the necessary details click on“Apply for Self-Assessment and Payment of Property Tax”....Step 3: Login using your user name & Password if already registered, else Click on “Citizen Registration” and follow the instructions to register...
Step 4: Choose the service “Assessment of Property Tax in NKDA” and submit your self assessment




Saturday, March 31, 2018

11th Conventions India Conclave at BBCC in August 2018

The India Convention Centre Bureau (ICPB) (see http://icpb.in/ ) recently visited the Biswa Bangla Convention Centre (BBCC) at New Town and were greatly impressed and proposed that the 11th Conventions and India Conclave be held here. ICPB was set up in 1988 to tap business in Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE). The ICPB is an apex body sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India for promotion of India as a convention destination. It is so planned that it will be participated by various states and various industry organisations from around the world.
In its Board Meeting held on 29th March, Hidco agreed to be a Platinum Sponsor to the event.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

100% Online Unit Area Property Tax from FY 2018-19

New Town's property tax system is based on unit area  system. This is the most scientific way of determining property tax. New Town is divided into 7 zones. each is assigned a basic valuation per unit area. Then multiplication factors are applied (self occupied or rented, location etc). Then the tax payable can be easily calculated.

The whole system is on-line. It is quite unique. No paperwork to be submitted. The data and self assessment can be fed through a net connected computer from home. There are dozens of Tax Sathis who are being trained to help the house owners at no cost to the owner. They are expected to carry intenet connected laptops. e-Help desks of NKDA also have net-connected computers. Details of  trained Tax Sathis will be available on the net. In addition, there will be e-help kiosks at NKDA offices at AA1 and AA2. There will also be a helpline during office hours.

We suggest that before calling the Tax Sathi, keep your sanctioned building plan, land deed and identity documents handy, keep your bank IFSC code account number PAN, Aadhar (if any) and other KYC documents handy.

The property tax scheme will be effective from FY 2018-19, with effect from Monday April 2, 2018, the planned date of notification to this effect.

Few other salient points on New Town Property Tax are as follows:

* * *

As per provision of Chapter-VIIA of the New Town Kolkata Development Act, 2007, Property Tax is  to be introduced in New Town Kolkata by the New Town Kolkata Development Authority by final publication of the scheme under section 36H of the said act,  on the  2nd April, 2018.
Salient features:
1. The property tax system is based on Unit Area system of assessment.
2. Entire process will be in electronic mode based on mobile phone-OTP verification access.
User friendly feature: **Document uploading is not mandatory.
3. Provision of self assessment of property tax by citizen on line, by logging in the –e-district portal of Government of West Bengal.
4. Provision of payment of property tax online as well as offline (by generation of challan and making payment with the challan at bank).
5. Provision of 5% rebate on timely payment of property tax of each quarter.
6. Provision of addition rebate of 5% on payment of property tax for the entire year within the due date of first quarter.

What property owners have to do after final publication of the scheme u/s 36 H ?

1. From 2nd April 2018, property owner will have sixty (60) days time to submit online self assessment of property tax and to make payment for the current quarter (1st Quarter). 
2. There will be trained personnel empanelled by NKDA, termed as “Tax Sathi” whose service may be availed by citizens for this purpose free of cost.






Saturday, March 24, 2018

Nazrul Archive at Nazrul Tirtha to Collaborate with Society for Natural Language Technology Research

The Society for Natural Language Technology Research (SNLTR) is an autonomous organisation under the Department of Information Technology and Electronics, Govt of West Bengal. Located in SDF Building in Sector 5, it has been doing a great deal of research on Bangla language and literature, archiving, scripting and fonts as well as developing technology for assisting the visually challenged.

Last month, SNLTR received recognition as a Content Partner of the National Digital Library of India. All works of Rabindranath Tagore and Bankimchandra Chattopadhyaya which were digitally archived by SNLTR are now accessible through the National Digital Library Portal (See, for example, Nationa Digital Library Link ) . SNLTR is also doing good research on works of Kazi Nazrul Islam (see Nazrul Rachanabali ) .

On the other hand, the Nazrul Archive in Nazrul Tirtha is a pioneering initiative of HIDCO where physical and digital records of Nazrul's works are being preserved. it is a one-of-its kind initiative in the country. Researchers can work at the archive and those from out of station can put up at the four guest rooms at Nazrul Tirtha. The archive is to facilitate research on Nazrul in our country. The Nazrul Archive was inaugurated in December 2017 by Minister Firhad Hakim in presence of members of families of Nazrul Islam. The archive has books by and on Nazrul, facsimiles of magazines Dhumketu, Langol and Gonobani edited by him, letters to and from him as well as songs and notations. There are over 500 songs and 25,000 documents on hard discs at the archive (See Telegraph story, for example here ).

Now the Nazrul Archive officials and SNLTR officials will collaborate to create a synergy on research, technology and archiving of Nazrul's works.


Friday, March 2, 2018

Transport Technology in New Town

Three electric buses have been delivered recently in New Town. These are procured jointly by Hidco and Coal India. These are air-conditioned, 32 seaters and have special charging stations at AA3 Bus Terminus, Pride Hotel Building Bus Terminus in AA1 and near Eco Urban Village at AA2. A committee with Hidco, NKDA and a representative of PVD (Public Vehicles Directorate) have been formed to suggest routes and timings where these buses would run. Initially, no fares would be levied during the trial runs, and the objective is to give a connectivity in certain pockets where buses don't reach and residents are dependent on totos and autos. I think of the inter-terminal coach services between the airport terminals in Delhi and other places. The buses have got safety certificates from ARA  (Automobile Research Association of India) at Pune and are awiting registration with PVD in Kolkata. Of course, the range of travel (150km on one charge), charging time safe speed, driver-helper shifts and other factors will have to be considered by the committee.

New AC Electric Buses in New Town
Recently, representatives of Zoomcars discussed with us the possibility of introducing self-driven electric vehicles on a public hiring scheme. Quite like the GPS tagged Apps driven public shared bicycles that are already in operation in New Town, the idea is to have driver-less rent-an-electric-vehicle (like e2o ) using apps. Of course, one has to register beforehand and have driving licence that will have to be scanned and uploaded and approved before registration on-line is approved. Public charging points will help take the matter forward as the EVs will have to be kept charged.

Recently, representatives of Pratt & Whitney discussed with us the possibility of having electric three wheelers on a shareable basis roughly like an Ola/Uber. Locating a local site for charging stations of 150 such eTotos is an area they are looking to solve, they informed. I suggested time sharing in existing parking lots near Axis Mall / Home Town etc where the eTotos could be charged during 10pm-6am on payment of a fee.

New Town Dockless Bi-Cycle Sharing (watch video)

Meanwhile, PEDL, who is operating the public cycle sharing scheme in New Town is looking at expanding to Sector 5 Salt Lake while Bike Taxis which are operating in New Town and Salt Lake are looking at expanding to KMC area. Also, at NKDA we have taken a decision that all paid parking areas would be slowly integrated with Apps and digital sensors (ultrasound or magnetic induction) so that car users would know in advance the availability of parking spaces, NKDA would be able to cross verify the quantum of revenues collected and discount pricing through intelligent software at the back-end could free up spaces taken up on roads at least during off-peak hours.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Institute For Future Cities: "Light As a Service"

Ms Manjari Chakraborty (Br DHC), Dr Richard Bellingham, me, Robert Rogerson, Debapriya Biswas,
Debjit Ganguly: Yesterday (28 Feb 2018) at Hidco

Daniel Broby, joining in from Glasgow, Scotland over Skype
At last BGBS, we from NKDA had signed an MoU with the University of Strathclyde's Institute of Future Cities. Yesterday, we had a detailed meeting at Kolkata with Dr Bellingham, Director of the Institute of Future Citiesand Robert Rogerson Deputy Director for Institute of Future Cities. Daniel Broby and George Pasky joined in from Glasgow, Scotland, UK over Skype. It was snowing in Sctland and weather was harsh and the connectivity wasn't very good. but we managed. Dr Robert is doing work on Blockchain and time stamping of blocks while the second professor is doing work on geothermal energy.

We decided to collaborate on several areas such as renewable energy, fintech and data observatory.

In renewable energy, the concept of 'light as a service' was discussed where the lifetime costs for illuminating streets could be lowered using geothermal  and solar energy as supplements, efficient light accessories, controlling level of illumination by smart controls, waste to energy, multitasking street poles for data connectivity, pollution monitoring and innovation district.

In Fintech, fast broadband access, large capacity local servers and blockchain stratups using the Institute's atomic clock for time stamping the blocks could be looked at.

In Data Observatory, a Centre of Observation in Kolkata was discussed, using public cycles and buses to monitor air quality parameters among other things.

A scoping memorandum would be proposed by Dr Bellingham shortly based on which future collaboration would be founded.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Calendar on Emerging Technology Workshops


Yesterday I was in Santiniketan. I visited the IT Park where a certificate course is going on, being conducted by NIELIT.
I interacted with the trainees. Most were from Tier 3 towns of Rampurhat / Bolpur. I asked them if anyone knew some coding like C+ or Java. Few raised their hands. Some had also done some mobile apps programming. I asked all to learn coding while they were still young if they wanted to be in the IT field for careers.

I informed them that WIL, on behalf of State Govt, was already conducting introductory 5-day on Start-Ups throughout their 100 plus district units. Some inputs would be given here too at IT Park Santiniketan. I asked them to think creatively: Santiniketan's handicrafts and Bolpur's / Rampurhat's / Tarapith's Totos / Rickshaws could be co-ordinated through Uber-Ola-like apps that could be homegrown by the trainees' start-ups. I suggested that digital marketing could be an area where small groups in small towns could also be profitable.

In the afternoon, as I was waiting at Bolpur Railway Station for returning by Kanchanjangha Express, two trainees came up to me and said that they had been thinking and they thought that the idea f digital marketing was great and they would work upon it. I assured them that some inputs were given to them in their present course too: I talked to the Course-coordinator too. While on the train, I requested IT Department's Honorary Advisor Mr Ambarish Dasgupta to give me a concept note on how govt may make digital marketing as a career option for the districts in Bengal. He has agreed.

At the State Level, we plan to have a series of workshops organised by the IT&E Department to usher in a proper eco-system in emerging trends in IT. So far we have fixed the calendar for the next quarter. This is as follows:

1. 16th March 2018: Workshop on Cyber Security
2. 13th April 2018 :  Workshop on Blockchain
3. 18th May 2018: Workshop on Artificial Intelligence

(Some of the other areas that we will work on for the next quarters would be Embedded Software and Technology, Animation & Gaming, Fintech, AI driven Digital Marketing, Face Recognition etc.)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Cybercrime as a Course in colleges

I was in the Jhargram Administrative meeting yesterday where Hon'ble Chief Minister held meeting of all administrative matters and where all senior secretaries of the government and many ministers were present along with DM, SP and other officers of Jhargram district.

In course of the meeting Hon'ble CM asked Higher Education Department to introduce courses on Cyber-crime so that students would stand a good chance of  getting jobs in the police department and elsewhere. After the meeting, on the way out, I spoke to Secretary of Education Department and said that IT&E Department could help them frame the syllabus as we were already working on this and other fronts within the new Centre of Excellence on Cyber Security. This is based on the assessment by the CoE (Centre of Excellence) that skills at entry, middle and senior levels on cyber-security and digital forensics were in scarcity and commanded high remuneration. And that with increasing digitization of all aspects of our lives, the chance of cyber vulnerabilities would also increase manifold. Furthermore, not unlike physical warfare or actual crimes, the defence must be internal to the states' own set-up, almost a sovereign function which cannot be delegated easily. As such, the intervention to introduce education on a broad scale on cybercrime, cybersecurity, digital forensics etc is indeed a step very well directed and timely.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

IIIT

I am in Delhi today (returning today) to attend the meeting of the Search-cum-selection committee constituted by MHRD (Ministry of Human Resources) for the post of Director of IIIT at Kalyani.

The IIIT Kalyani is like the other 15 IIITs constituted by an Act of the Parliament with shares and partnerships among MHRD, DoIT&E (State Govt) and Industry Partners. For Bengal, the Industry Partners are Coal India and Roltas.

Today's meeting was a marathon meeting where Directors of 7 IIITs are being recommended.

In the morning, I went to MeITY to invite MeITY officers for our forthcoming workshop on Cybersecurity on 16th March.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

OYOs and Totos in New Town: The Economy of Pooling

While compiling data for the freshly launched "New Town Info Book", I discovered that there are 19 OYO Rooms in New Town. I will hold a meeting with them on 28th February 2018 not only to see that they are complying with all rules (Trade Licence etc) but to also understand this sector and help them. Because, this is part of the great sharing economy: OLA, Uber, AirBnB, and now, New Town's own Dockless Bicycle sharing scheme by PEDL. In fact we want to encourage this sector and already the IT Deptt is handholding a start-up who won the State Hackathon recently, that will give an Apps to Totos and Autos for shared paratransit options.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Planning Cities the Future Way

We have already coined the phrase "New Town - the New Future" in many of the digital communications . An example:

In New Town there are dockless GPS controlled public bicycles, bike taxis, public hotpots, Wi Fi Enabled Biswa Bangla Sarani of 10 km length, LED street bulbs with auto-timers to switch on and off, SCADA enabled Water Treatment Plant, New Town's own Citizen Connect Social Network, Induction Loop controlled light saving mode in street lights where one third poles switch off after 10pm when no care move, mobile charging USB ports on each chair n the main huge auditorium of Biswa Bangla Convention Centre, an Optical Fibre Duct Newtwork throughout the city and plans to introduce blockchain based loyalty tokens to tourists. Now Hidco is also designing the Gitabitan Township in Bolpur: work is going on in full swing.
And now a recent decision has been taken entrusting Hidco to plan the 60 acre Sports City in Howrah, only few kilometres away from Nabanna. Work has started and survey is on. Regulations laid down under the Town and Country Planning Act, the UDFI norms, the IGBC Green City Norms,  the Township Policy of State Govt and all the experience of New Town Rajarhat will be infused into the planning of the new Sports City.