We aim to create IoT hubs in major Andhra Pradesh towns: CEO, APEITA
“As a backbone and infrastructure, the value added services on the Fibernet is going to be the biggest business for startups”, says SA Srinivasa Moorthy, CEO, AP Electronics and IT Agency (APEITA), in a conversation with Ankush Kumar. Moorthy shares key insights on why the state is focusing on startups for its overall development.
APEITA is established with the task to promote electronics and IT industry in Andhra Pradesh. The agency is entrusted with designing blueprints for establishing the Mega IT Hub at selected locations with plans to promote the state among the top IT and Electronics manufacturing companies globally.
Andhra has been the first state to have a draft policy on IoT. Tell us the policy objective and some of the innovative projects initiated by the government so far?
Through our IoT policy, we have proposed to create or promote at least 10 IoT hubs in major towns in the state either by the Government or through private efforts. The IoT hub shall have world class physical and social infrastructure. Wherever we have manual intervention, we are trying to replace it with IoT. The PDS was the first project and similarly the medicine dispersal has been completely automated. A patient can now see the medicines that he has been given along with details of the exact dosage. The third important project was the monitoring of soil moisture, vibrations, earth density and pests. This was done to detect dangerous patterns in land conditions and create an online update mechanism for farmers. We are also capturing satellite images to give the projections to the farmers and guide them to plant the kind of crops that are suitable according to the conditions. We have even geo-tagged the water bodies in the state so that we can monitor it over a period of time. This helps in minimizing the risks of pilferage and encroachments.
The state has a huge emphasis on startups. How is the state government helping the startups in finding a foothold in the initial years?
For startups, we have a scheme called Suo Moto proposals. So, if a company has a product which is working and it has got an application to the government of AP then the government takes it to the respective department for trial. Any startup/ MSME / enthusiastic first generation technocrat / entrepreneur from Andhra Pradesh, with an annual turnover between Rs 50 lakhs and Rs 25 crores, in Electronics and IT sectors can apply with a Suo Moto Proposal under this category. The companies outside Andhra Pradesh can also apply under this scheme and will be evaluated by the evaluation committee. If their product/ solution is selected and they do not have a presence in AP, they shall open a development center in Andhra Pradesh. Assistance under this scheme will be provided only on opening of such development.
Can you give us an example of any startup project which is innovative?
The water level monitoring system is developed by a company called Vassar labs. They were initially given 10 km stretch to work on and display their potential. And when they were successful, they were given the project across the length of the river. So there are approximately 2000 to 3000 sensors working. The solution provides near real-time visibility into the respective waterbody, so that a water balance sheet can be prepared. Internet of Things (IoT) is a key technology which is leveraged to get real time visibility and accountability into last mile processes. All the major water assets are planned to be equipped with IoT water sensors to transmit information regarding level and flow of water in real-time. All this information will be consolidated in a cloud database to provide real-time dashboards and decision support systems to help authorities in taking better decisions. The solution also involved creating apps to facilitate officers of the irrigation department to feed data from remote and inaccessible locations.
How are these startups transforming the healthcare sector of the state. Could you substantiate your view point with few examples?
There is a startup in Vizag called Medic that has developed an application where they integrate the local doctors, the pharmacies, and the ambulances together. This application is really helpful in getting immediate medical care. In emergency cases, one can go to this application and check for the nearby doctor to get first aid. The app can facilitate online appointments for doctors, diagnostic and medical shop services and can also be accessed in the Telugu language.
It can also give hospital information online like number of beds available, insurance providers that have partnered with the hospital, emergency services, 24/7 ambulance services availability, blood bank information etc, apart from basic hospital information such as doctor’s appointment.
There is another application called Health Saathi, which provides personalized preventive healthcare assessment to parents for their children depending on the age. It is more of a knowledge based system as one gets the real value in the long run. The app also provides home-based services such as genetic tests, child care and elder care for residents of Vizag. It helps in getting the exact time slot for the appointment so that the patient’s waiting time is minimized.
Tell us about your startup policy 2014-2020. What kind of infrastructure has been planned so far for the startups?
As per our startup policy, we have retained professional incubators instead of the government dealing with the startups directly. Incubation centers at Visakhapatnam, Kakinada and Tirupati have been established which offer plug-and-play facility to encourage fledgling entrepreneurs. We have built our own space for incubators including the building of a complete infrastructure. We also pay Rs 12,500 per startup for their expenses every month. The job of the incubator is to choose the best startup and incubate them without letting them to spend anything from their own pocket. So for the first six months, we do not take any money from the startup. If they start to grow, then the next six months, we take a marginal fee. We have about 17 startups in Tirupati that are predominantly focusing on hardware and software. There are about 13 startups in Vizag which are mainly into software and healthcare. And in Kakinada, we have two companies. We mainly see students coming forward for creating startups in incubators.
How is the plan in the Fintech space shaping up?
Our focus on Fintech has really given us good response. We aim for a self-sustainable global Fintech ecosystem that focuses on converging finance and technology to create large avenues of growth through industry-enablers, world-class infrastructure, entrepreneurship and innovation. We are now seeing huge amount of Fintech startups mushrooming in the state. Right now there are around six Fintech startups in Vizag.
The state government has also come up with a separate cyber security policy. Tell us about the key aspects of the policy and the long run perspective?
Our cyber security policy is built on three levels. One is the citizen level, one is at the organization level, and the other is on the government level. The vision of the Andhra Pradesh Cyber Security Policy is to create a robust cyber ecosystem, wherein the citizens transact online securely and take steps to protect their identity, privacy and finances online. The businesses conduct their operations without any disruption or damage and the Government ensures that its data and ICT systems are secure.
With the increase in digital connectivity and demonetization, cyber security becomes a crucial element for India. A global research lab on cyber security is coming up with involvement of experts in Vizag. We are planning to set up this cyber security lab in Tirupati, which will be equipped with the latest gadgets to carry out investigations and advanced research facilities. In the long run, this facility will be used to test the products. As there are so many products coming into India, we want to make sure that that these products are secure. So we would like to have a facility to test and certify that this product is secure.
The state has also introduced the AP Fibernet project. How do you think the project can be helpful to the startups?
We are also guiding the startups as to how they can monetize the AP Fibernet infrastructure effectively. A Fibernet can give them Internet, cable, setup box, telephone cable and IP TV. For instance, one can start offering home security services. Small hotels can now use the Fibernet to use multiple services. As a backbone and infrastructure, the value added services on the Fibernet is going to be the biggest business for startups. Like rural BPO, they can put a VoiP PBX and can start the service without investing on an expensive infrastructure. If you have a cloud based exchange mechanism, it is easy to take 30 connections to start your own BPO.
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