Saturday, September 14, 2013

Singapore Diary - Part IV

Alum Meet
Our only weekend
IIMB Alumni meet has been organized over the weekend so as to explore the business environment and opportunities and learn from their experiences. The alums first mentioned important takeaways from their career journey and there was 45 minutes of Q&A session. An important part of this meet was that we were divided into groups of 4-5 to have informal chat for 1 hour. I was particularly impressed with the humility and frankness of alums.

In the evening, we went to marina bay Sands to try our luck at Casino and I was surprised to learn that locals actually have to pay fees of S$ 100 for getting entry, and entry was free for the tourists.
We have heard a lot about Sentosa Island and one of the must visit places in Singapore. It is an artificial man-made beach and fun park and is frequented by everyone who comes to Singapore. No wonder a small country like Singapore is having so many tourists. It has worked very well within the constraints it had and developed its economy.

Day 9

Smart Cities, Siemens perspective
For week 2, the primary focus was on the industry and to learn about new developments here. One of the interesting concepts we learnt on this trip is about Smart Cities. As part of our international project, we are working with Prof Sekhar Kondepudi on defining Smart Cities and the work done so far on this. Monday was an interesting day with senior people from Siemens, Cisco, IBM discussed in detail on Smart City work, progress being made, lessons learnt so far and the opportunities it presents in future. Prof Sekhar discussed about the need for Smart Cities. He revealed mind boggling numbers on the data lying around and how most of it is unstructured. The way we are using the natural resources, there will be need to work on concepts of smart sustainable cities. We also had a chat with Mr. Steffen Endler, Siemens on their view and research projects. They have developed an interesting model to rate and compare the current city health which gives good indicator on where a city should target and invest to improve the quality of life of its people.

Mr. Gordon from Cisco has worked on a live project on Masdar, a new smart city being developed in Abu Dhabi. He discussed his experiences, views and lessons learnt. Some of the questions raised were around the return on investment, green energy and funding for smart cities. Similarly we had a session by Dr. Chen-Ritzo Ching-hua where she explained the research being done by IBM on these projects. How IBM is making inroads on such projects and why it makes sense for them to explore this area.  We also had some insight into the way Sodexho is doing business. They have discovered a unique opportunity in providing quality of life services at remote sites for industrial projects. Later in the day, we had a panel discussion with these speakers where people clarified their queries. I was wondering that this concept actually presents new wave of business opportunity as it is an elite market and cities and countries are making huge investments in such projects.

Discussion with our mentor

In evening we had a meeting with our project mentor, Prof Sekhar to discuss on the progress of the project and how we should take it forward. We discussed on the content of report and what areas to be targeted in report.

Day 10
The day started with session by Jayson Goh on Media companies and what lies in future. There will not be any need for typing in future and the machines will understand what you speak. This can open up whole sea of opportunities ad one critical barrier in using technology will be made redundant. Afterwards, the sessions revolved around the waste and water management in Singapore. Environment business is one of the biggest industries (to the tune of $300 billion) in the world today as all the nations are fighting to manage it. Singapore has very limited source of natural water and is dependent on water pact they had signed with Malaysia years ago which is due to expire. Besides this source, it is very costly to process sea water. Within these constraints, they invested in technology to recycle water. The water recycling technology is so advanced that one can drink water from any tap in Singapore as it meets WHO standards.

We also had a visit planned in the evening to water processing unit and waste management plant. Almost all the waste in Singapore is incinerated and is used to produce energy. This helps in dealing with the waste produced. The ash from the plant is dumped at a remote site in ocean and there is a plan to use that site once it is completely filled.

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