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Smart City: GIFTCL leverages telecom to meet communication needs

July 03, 2014
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The Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) is promoted by the Gujarat government, in partnership with Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Service Limited. Gujarat International Finance Tec-City Company Limited (GIFTCL) is responsible for planning and development of GIFT City.

GIFT City is being developed across an area of about 886 acres. The total built-up area will be about 92 million square feet, of which 10 million square feet is being developed under Phase I, 22 million square feet under Phase II and 30 million square feet under Phase III by 2020-22.

Being developed as a world-class city, GIFT City has incorporated a robust telecommunication and IT system to offer residents access to cutting-edge technologies.

tele.net tracks the development of telecom infrastructure at GIFT City…

Communications infrastructure

With a view to meet the current and future communication requirements of a smart city, GIFTCL has deployed a high speed fibre optic network. According to Ramakant Jha, managing director and group CEO, GIFT City Limited, “The company has laid high density polyethylene ducts of about 40 km to pave the way for more than 10 operators to offer optic fibre-based connectivity within GIFT City. The fibre optic network based on ring architecture allows the fast and easy deployment of technologies such as gigabit passive optical network, offering connectivity speeds in the range of 40G to 100G.”

Besides having a robust telecom network at its core, GIFT City is being developed using various IT tools. GIFTCL is using a range of infrastructure development applications including the Bentley suite of applications for infrastructure planning and development and Revit Architecture for design purposes. Further, master planning of the city is being done on a geographic information system-based platform. All development plans are being approved through an online system called the online development approval system. It provides developers the freedom to submit the proposed building plans online, without visiting the GIFTCL office, and obtain the clearance online within the stipulated time.

GIFT City has taken the lead in adopting the internet-of-things and machine-to-machine communication. The developers have commissioned Phase I of the City Command and Control Centre (C-4). All utilities involved in power distribution, water management, waste collection, smart traffic management, etc. are monitored and managed from C-4. The city will have two C-4 centres that can also be used for city-wide security and video surveillance. The access control system is installed at all critical locations to monitor the entry/exit to the building and floors. Further, the building-level infrastructure will be monitored from a building management system control room. These control rooms, housed in each building, are connected to C-4 and critical safety and surveillance parameters are also available at C-4.

At present, Tata Communications is constructing a state-of-the-art tier IV green data centre within GIFT City, which is expected to be operational by June 2015. The data centre will have an initial capacity of 900 racks. The facility will provide cloud services, managed hosting services, infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and security-as-a-service.

Challenges, benefits and future plans

Several challenges have been faced while developing the greenfield project. One of the major challenges was mapping the infrastructure and IT roadmap onto the city’s master plan to meet the required parameters of a smart city. Another issue was related to the return on investments on information and communication technologies. “In a new city development project, where there are multiple factors affecting the business, realising returns on investment in technology is actually very difficult and is spread across a longer period as compared to other routine business,” says Jha.

Challenges notwithstanding, GIFTCL has benefited immensely by adopting new-age IT tools. For example, having optimised its server infrastructure on the VMware platform, GIFTCL has been able to fully leverage the computing capabilities of its hardware and at the same time successfully reduced opex in terms of power and cooling requirement.

Being an urban development authority, GIFTCL is also responsible for providing citizen services to its residents. In 2014, it plans to implement the enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution for providing online access to citizen services. By using the ERP system, occupants of the city will be able to lodge and track their complaints and pay various charges online. At present, GIFTCL is using different applications for various functions like finance and inventory management, but with the introduction of ERP, all these functions will be integrated on a single platform. This would provide the management a holistic view of the organisation’s performance.

Further, GIFTCL intends to launch Meet Me Room (MMR) systems within GIFT City. This system will act as an aggregation point for multiple telecom service providers. GIFT City will be connected to the national and international internet backbone via the MMR facility through optic fibre cables. The MMR will also host a VSAT hub and gateways to various international financial gateways.

In sum, the adoption of cutting-edge telecom and IT tools is enabling GIFTCL to build a world-class smart city.

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