Trinity Mobility’s General Manager of Product Management and Marketing, Mithila Holla, joins Ryan Chacon on the podcast to talk about smart cities. Mithila and Ryan open up the podcast with an introduction to Trinity Mobility, its role in the industry, and its applications. Mithila then discusses how she has seen the smart city industry evolve. She and Ryan wrap up the podcast with a high-level conversation around challenges in smart cities and what to expect from Trinity Mobility in the near future.
Mithila Holla is the General Manager for Product Management and Marketing at Trinity Mobility, an applied IoT and AI company based in India. With over ten years of experience in multiple domains, she heads the Product Management, Ux Design, Business Analysis, and Marketing functions at Trinity. She works closely with smart city industry experts to streamline and improve smart city project deliveries globally. Mithila is responsible for the products and solutions that the company offers across six segments – Smart Cities, Safe Cities, Emergency Response Management, Smart Communities, Utilities, Early Warning, and Disaster Management. She holds a Master’s degree in VLSI from Manipal University and a Master’s degree in Business Management from the European School of Technology, Berlin. She was recently recognized as one of the 10 Most Impactful Women in Technology 2021 by Analytics Insight, in their global annual listing.
Interested in connecting with Mithila? Reach out on Linkedin!
About Trinity Mobility
Trinity Mobility is a leading provider of IoT and AI-based smart city digital platforms and applications. The company was founded in 2010 with the mission to develop IP-led unique solutions and transform the way we LIVE and WORK. Trinity’s smart city software suite, based on IoT and AI technology, enables cities to build a city-level digital platform that seamlessly connects to various urban systems, automates core processes of various in-line departments, and uses advanced analytics to drive efficient city operations. The company’s applications cover public safety service delivery for emergency services, intelligent public transportation, solid waste management, smart street lighting, smart parking, smart utilities such as electricity, water management and distribution, environment and disaster management, public health management and more.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(01:22) Introduction to Mithila
(02:34) Introduction to Trinity Mobility
(8:39) How smart city landscape is evolving
(13:33) Challenges in working with smart cities
(22:38) What’s happening at Trinity Mobility?
– [Voice Over] You are listening to the IoT For All Media Network.
– [Ryan] Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the IoT For All Podcast, The number one resource and publication for all of IoT. I’m your host, Ryan Chacon. And on today’s episode we have Mithila Holla, the Vice President of Product Management and Marketing at Trinity Mobility. They are a leading provider of IoT and AI based smart city digital platforms and applications. So we’ll talk a lot about smart cities, we talk about smart city use cases, the current state of the evolution of, and the future of smart cities. So very fun conversation we have today. We also dive into the AI and the IoT side components to the value it provides for citizens, personal experiences and challenges as it relates to smart city, customer adoption, technology, landscape, and complexity in IoT and in deploying different solutions for the smart city landscape. So yeah, like I said, fantastic conversation, a lot of good stuff here, I think we get a lot of value out of it. But before we dive into this, if any of you out there are looking to enter the fast growing and profitable IoT market, but don’t know where to start, check out our sponsor Leverege. Leverege’s IoT solutions development platform provides everything you need to create turnkey IoT products that you can white label and resell under your own brand. To learn more go iotchangeseverything.com, that’s iotchangeseverything.com. And without further ado, please enjoy this episode of the IoT For All Podcast. Welcome miss to the IoT For All Podcast. Thanks for being here this week.
– [Mithila] Thank you so much, Ryan. I’m very happy to be part of this podcast and thanks a lot for this opportunity.
– [Ryan] Absolutely. Let’s kick it off by having you give a quick introduction about yourself to our audience.
– [Mithila] Yeah, great. My name is Mithila Holla. I’m the vice president for product management and marketing at Trinity Mobility, which is an IoT and applied AI startup in the smart and the safe city space. So at Trinity, I basically had the product management, the UI UX design, the business analyst and the marketing teams. So that’s basically what I do as part of work. And apart from work, I’m a professional Indian classical dancer. And yeah, I love dancing and I also love traveling quite a bit and I do wite some of my travel blogs as well.
– [Ryan] Oh, that’s fantastic. Where’s the best place you’ve traveled to?
– [Mithila] Number one, New Zealand, new number two, Cambodia.
– [Ryan] Oh, wow, okay, very different kind of areas. So that’s fantastic.
– [Mithila] Yeah.
– [Ryan] So tell me a little bit more about the company kind of the overall role you play in the IoT space and that kind of thing.
– [Mithila] Yeah. So Trinity Mobility is basically a company which is like the software OEM provider for smart cities. So if you see the scale of a smart city project, it’s pretty huge, right? So you have a lot of infrastructure. And the idea of a smart city is to make this infrastructure digitally enabled. So you will have IoT devices and sensors across multiple assets in the city. So it could be your smart street lights, for example, or smart bins, parking sensors, and flood sensors, environment sensors, et cetera, right? So, our software basically has… It comprises of three layers, right? The first layer is like the connectivity part, which is the code of the platform, which helps to connect any such device in the smart city ecosystem to the platform so you can… It helps to ingest the data, process the data and analyze the data, so that forms the platform layer basically. And then this… So you can actually integrate either external applications or you can integrate urban systems like how I mentioned. Then the second layer is where we have created certain value added applications on the platform. So in the smart city space, like this flagship product that every city would want is the command and control center application. Like what is the point of integrating all of these devices and applications, right? They would want to centrally monitor these assets and they also want to make informed decisions. So that piece comes from the command and control center application. So you have a city authority who is basically monitoring all the various anomalies, which are generated across the city. And then he’s able to take an informed decision as to what to do next to mitigate this, right? So if you have pre-defined SOPs for each type of anomaly, like say there is an anomaly with respect to street lighting. And if you have a pre-defined standard operating procedure, this can be automated by programming through our platform. So we have a component of PPM, which will help to automate some of these workflows. Another application that we provide to connect the loop is a workforce management system. So you have a lot of field workforce and today, once you get an alert and anomaly, the general tendency is that you have to raise it to a specific department and that field workforce will go to the ground and reflectify the problem. But then how are you tracking and tracing whether this activity has been completed as per the defined SOP, right? So we have a mobile application for the field workforce, which helps the workforce to get an alert and he or she’s able to go to the incident location and rectify this problem. The third application that we have is for citizens because at the end of the day, smart city is all about providing great living experience for citizens. Right, so that’s most important. And how do the city authorities connect with the citizens? So this piece is provided by the citizen engagement platform. So here we have a city app as well as a citizen web portal where citizens can raise certain grievances which they want the city authorities to resolve. Also, we see some of the cities, you can say the Greenfield cities, right? Like cities, which are new and evolving, they want to enable all of the services also through the city app itself. Like if they want… If the citizen wants to request for parking services or any utilities related services, like they want a smart meter connection for their home and they want maintenance activity to be scheduled for those smart meters, all of this can be done through the citizen app and the citizen portal itself, right? And to bring all of this together and add more value, we also provide AI and BI applications, which goes well with the command and control center piece. So the BI applications are basically dashboards. So we are able to… The city authorities or even respective departments can monitor their key KPIs and they can also see any kind of KPI breaches and take action accordingly. And we have some of the AI applications, which come as a standard package with some of the… With our applications. Like we have an AI application for predicting the dynamic pricing for the parking. We also have an AI application for optimizing the solid base management collection process by predicting the bin fill levels in advance, right? And also optimizing the root for the solid base management vehicles basically. And we also have certain applications for the disaster management, like, you know, flood prediction or heavy rainfall prediction and things like that. Yeah, so this is basically the whole ecosystem of applications and the platform catering to various personas such as the city authorities, citizen, the workforce, et cetera.
– [Ryan] Right, right, right. Okay, fantastic. Now, tell me from your all’s perspective, how the smart city landscape has kind of evolved. And one thing it’s an interesting thing to talk about as far as, you know, where the smart city landscape now, how has it gotten here and where do we kind of see it going? And I’d love to kind of get your perspective on that kind of across those three areas.
– [Mithila] So if you see how the smart cities landscape started, right? So sometime around 2013, 20114, we were hearing this buzz around industry or industrial IoT, right? So it was some of the manufacturing companies and also a lot of other companies which brought about digital transformation for optimizing processes and improving efficiencies, and also helping to see if there is going to be any kind of return on investment basically by reducing the cost. So once this started happening in the industries, it made real sense to bring this kind of digital transformation in city, at top cities as well, because the biggest pain point that city authorities have today is like most of their functions work in silos, right? So there is lack of interconnection between different departments. Also engagement with the citizens is also is quite limited. And even they’re able to actively take feedback or recommendations from the citizen itself. And third is like, you know, we, the cities of today, I mean, everybody wants a better standard of living in terms of better quality of life. So cities today are mandated to provide that kind of a quality of life and thereby increasing city livability index. Keeping these three goals in mind, right? To reduce the operational complexity by breaking down silos and then providing better citizen liability index and increasing the interaction between the city authorities and the citizens, the smart city concept was, you know… Basically the smart city concept started that way. And as we see, it started with also because of technology, right? Like technology such as IoT, big data, cloud, these are the technologies which help to enable this smart city concept. And people were now able to not just imagine or visualize, but to turn into a reality, like connecting millions of sensors and getting that data in a central platform and analyzing it, all of this was possible through these cutting edge technologies. Now, if you see how the smart city landscape is evolving, it’s like, you know, we are able to first level of connect and monitor is possible, right? And the second level of automating some of these workflows are also possible. Now, the city authorities is looking at how can I improve my operational efficiencies? Can AI help to solve some problems? Can digital doing or the concept of like the whole metaverse, can that help to solve additional problems in a much more… In a better manner, in the sense like they’re able to take preemptive actions rather than just reacting to a particular incident, right? Are they able to respond to situations much better? So if you see the smart city landscape now has moved from just being connect and monitor to actually optimizing operational efficiencies. And that is where I’m seeing this heading towards in the future. And in future, we’ll also see that, you know, city authorities will not have that much of a workload with all these technologies coming into play, where they’re able to make much more informed decisions without having to grapple for resources and they’re able to manage their resources also much better.
– [Ryan] Right, yeah, I totally agree. I think it’s very exciting space to be in and kind of monitor and see how it’s evolved from just helping the city itself to have more insight into what’s happening, be create, you know, better efficiencies when it comes to processes and such, energy saving, you name it, to now helping citizens in creating a different environment for them in a better way. So tell me a little bit about the challenges that you’ve seen when it comes to working with cities to implement smart technology, smart solutions and things like that. I’m sure there is a adoption side of it, whether it’s the city adopting it, or maybe just getting their citizens to adopt certain things that they implement, as well as the complexity with different technologies now in the landscape, like how how’s that playing in and at the same time are the businesses and the organizations within the city able to see real value generated for them? And I think those three things I’d love to kind of have you expand on a little bit.
– [Mithila] Yeah. So I think this is a very nice and valid question, Ryan, because, and nothing comes easy, right? So when the whole smart city concept started, everybody were initially skeptical like, okay, is this for real? Is this possible? And even if it’s possible, will it real generate the value that it is supposed to generate and things like that. So if you see some of the projects that we initially started, right? Like even the city authorities were skeptical and things like that. Nut when we started demonstrating real outcomes, like they were able to see just by deploying street lighting, I’m not kidding, Ryan, just by deploying smart street lighting cities were able to see almost a 33% reduction in their energy cost, right? So, these have been some of the outcomes that we have been seeing. Also in terms of just by enabling a better safety… From a safety perspective, you know, better safety management and also emergency response management. We’ve been able to see that whether a police vehicle has to reach an incident location. Here, if it was taking about 30 minutes, now it’s taking about 15 minutes, which is almost like a 50% reduction in this time, right? So once city audit seeing the outcomes for themselves, I think everybody was sort of getting convinced that this is something that can work, okay. So the challenges that we saw initially, like I said, like I think you can connect it to back in the days when, you know, when automated telemachine started or in shopping centers where they were no longer using calculators, but, you know, you had an automatic machine which was generating your bill. And then the customer was still skeptic and they were actually manually calculating and seeing if the machine is right, right? So it’s… Initially when the technology adoption is there’s always some skeptic skepticism. But once they start seeing the outcomes, it is much easier to handle. So what we learned from our process is upfront decide on the KPIs with the specific department you’re working with, right? If you’re working with the solid waste management department, what is their KPI, right? What is it that they want to solve? And if you’re working with the energy department, what is there? So if you’re able to hit on those one or two KPIs, which they really are looking at, then it’s much more easier to transform it to other departments as well. In terms of citizen adoption, what I felt is like, I think citizens are much more, you open and easy to like, you know, they open to technologies, at least in India with… If you see in the last two years, because of COVID, right? The adoption of technologies, like some like digital payments, right? Adopted it so fast and I can even go to a small seller, a shop, right? And still be able to make my payment through my mobile, I don’t really have to carry my wallet anywhere. And so I have seen that, you know, at least in the Indian context, the adoption from the citizens is quite faster. So when you roll out something like a smart parking application, everybody will want to try it out. They will have the app on their phone and they will want to try it out and they start giving recommendations on how you can make it better and things like that. So, the problem that we have here is more offer demanding. It’s I wouldn’t say a problem, it’s a good to have problem where you have a more demanding citizen and you always have to live up to the standard so that they trust the system and they trust what is being what is happening, right?
– [Ryan] Right.
– [Mithila] So that is something which is… It is much easy to achieve if you’re able to deliver on those expectations. Yeah, so this has been basically the primary challenges and how we’ve been able to mitigate. So I’m coming to the tech third part of your question with respect to technology itself, right? So if you see IoT devices, they all come from different vendors. They all have their own, if have to get into a little technical details, they have payload structures and things like that. So onboarding multiple devices from different vendors onto our platform was a challenge that we saw initially. So how we mitigated that is we created a very simple tool, which is called as IoT ops , which helps the city authorities to onboard any device from any vendor in the matter of minutes. So it’s a very UI, it has a UI interface and then we are able to do that, able to onboard these devices quite easily. So this is one of the challenges that we saw earlier. It was taking like weeks of coding to get devices onboarded, but through the tool process, we have made it it’s from weeks to minutes, okay? And the second challenge that we saw is in terms of technology itself. Is AI part, right? Like, so until you have enough data and then, you know, what is the outcome that you want to achieve, it’s a little difficult to deploy an AI application itself. So we thought, okay, I think we should give the chance to democratize AI by creating a tool where city authorities can use it. Once they have the data coming into the platform, they themselves can actually use the tool and deploy their own machine learning algorithms to solve various problems that they see in the city space. So, through tool process, we have been able to ad address a lot of the technology challenges that kept coming in the course offered smart city deployment. The third challenge that we saw was in terms of the KPI dashboard. So every department wanted their own dashboard, they wanted to monitor their own KPIs with the data, which is coming in and wanted it in a certain way. So it was taking a long time for us to build these dashboards and make them functional. So now what we’ve done is we’ve created like a library of pre-configured widgets. So city authority saying who is part of the, say the utilities department, he’ll go through the library of widgets available for KPI monitoring for utilities and through simple drag and drop, create their own dashboard and able to monitor the KPIs. So we have tried to address a lot of these technology challenges, you know, that keeps coming in through these initiatives and approaches.
– [Ryan] Very nice, well, that’s fantastic. Yeah, I think it’s a very… Like I mentioned earlier, it’s super interesting space and each city is so unique, the citizens are unique, the governments are unique, the infrastructure is unique, so it’s not an easy challenge for any company to go in and embark on this, right? So the fact that you have been able to be successful, and even like you mentioned, just with the streetlights, which I’ve heard before, is that a lot of cities start with the streetlights. Not only does it help improve energy efficiency, but it also acts as a… Because of how high they are, it acts as a very good way to kinda disseminate connectivity and be a kind of hub for other types of things, which is super fascinating.
– [Mithila] Absolutely, yeah.
– [Ryan] But, yeah, you know, this has been a… It’s been a great conversation. I appreciate you taking the time to do this. I wanted to ask kind of over the next, you know, six to eight months or so, what’s going on over at Trinity mobility that we should be on lookout for or anything new coming out that we should kind of stay in the know about?
– [Mithila] Absolutely. So, one thing that we are launching is our next generation command and control center, which incorporates the 3D IoT digital twin. We are starting our roadmap with the building for a digital building, digital twin, and then extending it to communities and cities. So this will really change the game. And we are also, the future landscape is for deploying it with AR and VR capabilities. So if there are city authorities located across multiple regions and want to collaborate on a city problem, they can do so using this technology. So this is something definitely to look out and watch out for in terms of a new product or the innovation that we are bringing about, yeah. And apart from that, we are also going global for a lot of projects, so yes. So you will see a couple of exciting announcements around that as well.
– [Ryan] And how can our audience kind of stay up to date on what’s going on or reach out if they have questions kind of follow up in any way?
– [Mithila] Yes, so actually we have our… We are very active on our LinkedIn handle as well as our Twitter handle. So, if anybody wants to reach out or ask questions, they can directly reach out either through LinkedIn or through Twitter, and then we’ll have somebody from the team get back to them on the same, yeah.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. Well, this has been a great conversation. Like I said, thank you so much for taking the time. I think our audience is gonna get a lot of value out of smart cities is definitely a hot topic and the more knowledge and understanding that we can provide out there to the audience, the hopefully the more adoption increases. And as these cities start to ramp up their initiatives and really get behind the, the technology and what’s capable, not just for themselves, but like you’ve said many times for the citizens, which I think is an overlook aspect. So, I’m very excited to kind of see where this space goes. And thank you for your time again and we’d love to have you back to talk more about smart cities later this year.
– [Mithila] Yes, thank you so much, Ryan. It was so nice chatting up with you and I’m glad to have done this, and I hope the message reaches across a lot more people and we would be very happy to answer any questions from anybody who’s watching this podcast.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. All right, thanks again.
– [Mithila] Thank you, thank you.
– [Ryan] All right, everyone. Thanks again for watching that episode of the IoT For All Podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, please click the thumbs up button, subscribe to our channel and be sure to hit the bell notifications so you get the latest episodes as soon as it become available. Other than that, thanks again for watching and we’ll see you next time.