AI is a must now

AI is a must now to speed up digital transformation

by | Jul 30, 2020 | Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Transformation, Viewpoint

AI is no longer an either-or debate but a when-and-how discussion that board rooms must attend to now.
Share to lead the transformation

The history of humankind has also been the history of human intelligence and its continuous evolution. Ironically, this has enabled us to amass so much knowledge and information that it has become humanly difficult for us to process it in real time. Artificial intelligence aka AI is a must now.

Moreover, as we acquire new knowledge, we also tend to lose what we had gained in the past. This is a weakness inherent to us humans, but the digital information systems that we developed help us overcome that shortcoming amazingly well.

Today, we can store and retrieve knowledge at will. More importantly, we can store it in one form and retrieve it in another form. Speech recognition AI technologies have matured to remarkable levels today. One would simply record a conversation and transcribe it within minutes in a perfectly legible text form. Similarly, chatbot technologies are rapidly redefining the customer interfaces for many an organization.

AI is the new game changer

Artificial intelligence driven solutions are now playing a critical role in processing knowledge and utilizing the learnings to augment human activities.

These AI solutions help us shorten our response times to a situation, so that we are able to make the most of an opportunity and deal with a threat in the best possible manner.

However, the AI deployments are still in early stages, though it is hoped that the Covid-19 pandemic will accelerate these deployments. Specifically, technologies like speech recognition, chatbots, and robotic process automation (RPA) have rapidly matured in the recent years and are now ready for large-scale adoption.

Imagine what would have happened if all cities and governments were armed with sophisticated AI tools when the Covid-19 cases surfaced or were in their early stages of spread. It is quite likely that authorities would have been able to contain the spread before it spiraled out of control.

That brings us to the theme of digital transformation, which could accelerate widescale deployment and usage of AI solutions by governments, businesses, and citizens alike.

Transformation and agility – two sides of the same coin

Transformation could be accelerated by being agile. If you are agile, then you can transform quickly. And if you’re committed to transformation then you will be eager to embrace agility.

Organizations that had already advanced on the path of digital transformation, are today better prepared to adapt and respond to the challenges. Expectedly, they will also be the ones to recover faster than others.

Other businesses too must undertake rapid transformation routes to emerge truly nimble and agile if they were to survive a long and slow macroeconomic recovery cycle. Such an approach would enable them to respond to market situations in dynamic and resilient ways, create value for themselves and their customers, and muster growth and profitability in a sustainable manner.

Moreover, businesses could also leverage IT to change the shape of recovery curve to an extent and create greater value for their stakeholders as well as customers.

AI is the soul of future digital transformation initiatives

AI could significantly accelerate innovation and transformation. It is time to open up new streams of AI conversations that will help realign the digital transformation agenda of businesses to the changed needs of a post-pandemic era.

AI case studies and use cases already exist that could be adapted and used by organizations and governments. Leading organizations in areas such as banking, financial services, retail, logistics, healthcare, automobiles, e-marketplaces, and cybersecurity are already at the forefront of AI adoption. In the near future, while they work to further perfect and mature their AI applications, other organizations will be keen to catch up.

One good way to accelerate AI adoption would be to watch the early movers and learn from their successes and failures.

For instance, Mastercard has been an early mover. It introduced Decision Intelligence, a comprehensive decision and fraud detection service, in November 2016. According to Mastercard, the solution uses artificial intelligence technology to help financial institutions increase the accuracy of real-time approvals of genuine transactions and reduce false declines.

Similarly, AT&T, the world’s largest telecommunications company, has also been an early deployer. In December 2016, AT&T rolled out its entertainment chatbot Atticus.

In April 2017, Vodafone UK launched its AI chatbot, TOBi, powered by IBM Watson and LivePerson. The telco described it as a virtual customer services’ agent that could handle a range of customer queries including device troubleshooting, usage, and order tracking, among others.

The Covid-19 scenario has made a profound impact on the way people collaborate and work. In this situation, AI and ML will be the key navigational technologies to deliver results, and hence, are expected to be embraced widely by organizations of all scales.

[If you would like to share a use case and recommend it in the larger interest of other organizations, please drop me a word at deepakk@bmnxt.com.]

MORE FROM BETTER WORLD

Wind power companies to get lease rent waiver

Wind power companies to get lease rent waiver

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change has decided to relax the mandatory charging of lease rent of Rs 30,000 per MW for wind power projects.

In a review meeting Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar took a conscious decision to relax the condition of charging the lease rent of Rs 30,000 per MW for wind power projects. Javadekar said that it is expected that this step will boost the investment in wind power projects and will help in providing wind power at cheaper rate.

“The government envisages to meet maximum energy requirement by tapping renewal energy resources and, to achieve the target of clean energy in a time bound manner, various policies and regulations are being constantly updated,” said the Environment minister.

Currently, to establish wind power project over forest land, the existing procedure requires payment of mandatory charges for compensatory afforestation and Net Present value (NPV). In addition to mandatory charges, the wind power companies had to pay additional lease rent of Rs 30,000 per MW. This additional cost is not mandatory for other renewal energy projects such as solar power and hydel electric projects. Additional cost for generation of clean energy through wind power, in turn escalates the per unit cost of power at consumer level.

Promotions of such projects are part of Government of India’s growing commitments towards International Agreements. One of the National Commitment pledged in Paris in 2015 was to have 40% of the power from renewable resources by 2030 .It is noteworthy that currently India has over achieved the target and is well on track to ensure that more than 50% of the installed capacity will come from renewable by 2030.

Karnataka tops rooftop solar ranking index

Karnataka tops rooftop solar ranking index

RK Singh, Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy (IC) and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, launched the State Rooftop Solar Attractiveness Index (SARAL) in New Delhi yesterday. The State of Karnataka has been placed at the first rank in the Index that evaluates Indian states based on their attractiveness for rooftop development. Telangana, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh have got 2nd, 3rd, and 4th ranks, respectively.

Launching the Index, RK Singh said that it would incentivize rooftop solar by creating healthy competition among the states. He encouraged all states to adopt the best practices being followed by top ranking states.

SARAL has been designed collaboratively by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation (SSEF), Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), and Ernst & Young (EY). It was launched during the Review Planning and Monitoring (RPM) Meeting with states and state power utilities. SARAL currently captures five key aspects:

  1. Robustness of policy framework
  2. Implementation environment
  3. Investment climate
  4. Consumer experience
  5. Business ecosystem

It encourages each state to assess the initiatives taken so far, and what it can do to improve its solar rooftop ecosystem. This will help states to channelize investments that can eventually help the sector grow. In addition, such an exercise is likely to create a more conducive environment for solar rooftop installations, encourage investment and lead to accelerated growth of the sector.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has set a target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, of which 100 GW solar power is to be operational by March 2022, of which 40 GW is expected to come from grid connected solar rooftops. The Indian Grid Connected Rooftop PV (GRPV) segment is slowly gaining momentum with substantial interest from entrepreneurs, developers, financial institutions, development banks, end users and government entities. On a very positive note, rooftop solar PV has already achieved grid parity for commercial and industrial consumers and is fast becoming attractive for residential consumers as well.

To achieve our rooftop solar targets, it is important to develop an ecosystem that ensures information symmetry, access to financing and clear market signals. Thus, the MNRE has developed the State Rooftop Solar Attractiveness Index–SARAL that evaluates Indian states based on their attractiveness for rooftop development. SARAL is the first of its kind index to provide a comprehensive overview of state-level measures adopted to facilitate rooftop solar deployment.

Review, Planning & Monitoring Meeting held
Power Minister RK Singh chaired the Review Planning and Monitoring (RPM) Meeting with states and state power utilities. In his address to the state representatives, he emphasized the need to make power sector sustainable and viable so as to ensure 24/7 power supply to all consumers. The meeting discussed various schemes and issues pertaining to the sector such as Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), Integrated Power Distribution Scheme (IPDS), UDAY, 24/7 power supply, etc, said the PIB release.

The meeting was attended by the Secretary, Power, Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary, MNRE, Anand Kumar, Special Secretary, Power, Sanjiv Nandan Sahai, Senior officers of the Ministry of Power & MNRE, Principal Secretaries/Secretaries (Energy) of States, CMDs & MDs of Discoms and Power Sector PSUs.

 

Drive to eliminate single use plastic gathers pace

Drive to eliminate single use plastic gathers pace

A day after Lok Sabha Secretariat said it has banned the use of single-use plastic within the Parliament complex, Ministry of Railways has already issued a circular to ban single-use plastics, while Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying under Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, has also initiated steps in the direction.

Ministry of Railways issues a circular
Ministry of Railways has directed all Railway units to enforce ban on single use plastic material, with less than 50 micron thickness from 2 October 2019. Emphasis is on making necessary arrangements to minimize generation of plastic waste and its eco- friendly disposal.

In this regard, the Ministry has issued a circular stating the following instructions are to be enforced:

  • Ban on single use plastic material
  • All railway vendors to avoid use of plastic carry bags
  • Staff should reduce, reuse and refuse plastic products and to use inexpensive reusable bags to reduce plastic footprint.
  • IRCTC to implement return of plastic drinking water bottles as part of Extended Producer Responsibility.
  • Plastic Bottle crushing machines to be provided expeditiously.

Strict enforcement of these instructions is to be from 2 October, to give enough time to all concerned to prepare for “Plastic Free Railway,” said a release from the Ministry.

Ministry of Railways has also instructed its Railway units that a pledge can be administered on 2 October 2019 to cut use of plastics. Also, Information, Education & Communication (IEC) measures are to be adapted to create awareness among railway users.

Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying’s move
The Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying has requested Major Dairy Federations like Gujarat Milk Federation (Amul), Karnataka Milk Federation (Nandini), Punjab Milk Federation (Verka), Maharashtra Milk Federation (Mahanand) to encourage reuse of plastic milk pouches, in a campaign mode, with 3R strategy – Reduce, Rebate and Reuse. i.e. REDUCE consumption of plastics by subsidizing price of 1 litre pack over ½ litre pack, REBATE to customers for bringing back plastics, REUSE of pouches for users such as Road construction, recyclers.

Secretary, Animal Husbandry and Dairying has requested all Cooperative Milk Federations and Private Dairies to at least halve plastic use by 2 October.  Media was requested to start a campaign like Swachcha Bharat to discourage plastics and thereby improve environment.

AMUL and Mother Dairy were requested to formulate action plan/protocol to recycle milk pouches and share with Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying for circulation to other Milk Federations for implementation.

NPC holds meet on sustainable food safety

NPC holds meet on sustainable food safety

A two-day National Conference on Capacity Building of Sustainable Food Value Chains for Enhanced Food Safety and Quality organized by National Productivity Council (NPC) in collaboration with Asian Productivity Organization, Tokyo, Japan began in New Delhi today. The Conference was inaugurated by Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce & Industry and Chairman of NPC, Dr. Guruprasad Mohapatra. In his inaugural address, Dr. Mohapatra highlighted the relevance of sustainable food value chains and the international standards enacted through the Food Safety and Security Act, 2006. He also acknowledged the demand for food safety assurances leading to proliferation of food safety and quality assurance programs, a PIB release said.

Director General, NPC, Arun Kumar Jha, in his address, emphasized on the importance and potential of food processing industry. Chairperson, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Rita Teaotia, in her keynote address said that there is a need to develop the mitigation strategies for curbing food wastages, enhancing food security and food quality.

Dr. Manickam Asaithambi, Asian Productivity Organization, Japan, lauded the efforts of NPC to organize this program on sustainable food value chains which is an international phenomenon. Dr. Manickam Asaithambi expressed hope that the outcomes of the conference will lead to developing sustainable strategies for food safety in India. Technical sessions on various aspects of food value chains, food safety and quality will be conducted during the conference which will conclude tomorrow.

Environment min opens draft NREP for comments

Environment min opens draft NREP for comments

Natural resources form the backbone of any economic development. India, as one of the fastest growing economies with GDP at 2.6 trillion USD, has increased its material consumption to six times, from 1.18 billion tonnes (BT) in 1970 to 7 BT in 2015. The material consumption is expected to increase further to provide for an increasing population, rapid urbanization and growing aspirations. Enhancing resource efficiency and promoting the use of secondary raw materials has emerged as a strategy for ensuring that the potential trade-off between growth, resource constraints and environmental well-being can be minimized.

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change released Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy, 2019 on 25 July 2019 inviting comments and suggestions from stakeholders including public/private organizations, experts and concerned citizens on the draft policy.

The Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy (NREP) envisions a future with environmentally sustainable and equitable economic growth, resource security, healthy environment (air, water and land), and restored ecosystems with rich ecology and biodiversity. The Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy is guided by the principles of (i) reduction in primary resource consumption to ‘sustainable’ levels, in keeping with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and staying within the planetary boundaries, (ii) creation of higher value with less material through resource efficient and circular approaches, (iii) waste minimization, (iv) material security, and creation of employment opportunities and business models beneficial to the cause of environment protection and restoration.

The Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy provides an overarching collaborative framework for resource efficiency across all sectors in the country, covering both biotic and abiotic resources and life cycle stages and aspires for cross-sectoral stakeholder partnerships for the cause of resource efficiency for sustainable development.

The Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy (NREP) is available online on Ministry’s website at http://moef.gov.in/draft-national-resource-efficiency-policy2019-inviting-comments-and-suggestions-of-stakeholders-including-publicprivate-organization-experts-and-concerned-citizens/.

Comments and suggestions in prescribed format will be accepted till 24 August 2019.

MoHUA workshop lays focus on tech usage

MoHUA workshop lays focus on tech usage

Dr. Thawar Chand Gehlot, Union Minister, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJ&E) has stated that the Government is fully committed to eradicate manual scavenging through the ‘The Prevention of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.’ He was speaking at the national Workshop Cum Exhibition on Sustainable Sanitation organized by MoSJ&E and the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in Delhi today.

Through a series of panel discussions through the day, the workshop saw discussions and presentation of best practices on topics such as Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) based biomethanation under Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) initiative of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoP&NG), MSW to Bio-CNG through biomethanation and cotreatment of organic fraction of MSW with sludge.

The national workshop aimed at providing a comprehensive roadmap for ensuring sustainable sanitation in urban areas. (Image tweeted by @HardeepSPuri)

The day long interaction among stakeholders is aimed at providing a comprehensive roadmap for ensuring sustainable sanitation in urban areas. States and ULBs will take these insights into their respective areas to further strengthen their strategy for achieving safe, sustainable and holistic sanitation.

Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (I/C) for Housing & Urban Affairs, Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, MohUA, Nilam Sawhney, Secretary, MoSJ&E and more than 500 representatives including the Principal Secretaries (UD), Mission Directors of AMRUT & Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U) in States/Union Territories, Municipal Commissioners of 500 cities with population of 1 lakh and above and development partners besides senior official from both the ministries attended the workshop.

Gehlot added that the Government has been laying increasing emphasis on mechanical cleaning and preventing human entry into sewer and septic tanks to the extent possible through the use of modern technologies. Further, he said, “Through the National Safai Karmacharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC) formal integration of these workers is being done through the disbursement of grants, provision of loans and livelihood training programs. I am happy to see that this workshop cum exhibition today will showcase the varied measures, best practices and technologies available that will go a long way in preventing fatalities due to hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks. Swachh Bharat is indeed the first step towards Swasth Bharat.”

Addressing the gathering Puri said, “Our Ministry has consistently made efforts to devise efficient systems, processes and technologies for mechanical cleaning of sewer and septic tanks. The Ministry has undertaken various initiatives to eliminate human entry into septic tanks and sewers and create an ecosystem for sustainable sanitation – the publication of documents such as the CPHEEO Manual on Sewerage and Sewage Treatment Systems (2013) and Standard Operating Procedures for Cleaning of Sewers and Septic Tanks (2018) or organizing of the Global Technology Challenge, being some of them. The workshop today will be another step in this direction. The launch of the guidance document on “Emergency Response Sanitation Unit (ERSU) will go a long way in preventing fatalities of sanitation workers and guarantee their safety and well-being.”

He further added, “The Manual on Stormwater Drainage Systems, 2019 released today, shall add a feather to the recently launched Jal Shakti Abhiyan by the Government and help cities and towns in water conservation, protection from flooding and water security. The Ministry is fully committed to support the endeavors of States & Urban Local Bodies as they progress towards total sanitation or Sampoorna Swachhata.”

Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, MoHUA said, “While the Directory of Sewer & Septage Cleaning Equipment launched today will be a guiding book for Urban Local Bodies as well as practitioners, the exhibition by prominent manufacturers and vendors showcasing emerging technologies, equipment and best practices on sewer and septic tank management will help provide customized solutions to city specific requirements in this area.”

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