Innovative SMART City Projects with Grid's No Code Solutions

Vahishta Mistry
March 3, 2022
5 mins to read
Grid SMART City Solutions

With the advent of networked lighting, digital meters and other 'smart' innovations in city design and urban facilities, there's been a huge push towards retrofitting existing urban and suburban areas with smart utility and infrastructure upgrades. Although the new technology might be space-age, since it has to interface with existing infrastructure and legacy operations, especially during the installation phase, there is a huge potential for confusion, miscommunication and wastage. Simultaneously, these installation processes remain vulnerable to pilfering, misreporting and other losses. While new infrastructure might be 'smart', the process of installing it is still very much a legacy process.

It doesn't help, either, that there are multiple stakeholders in the process, from the city authorities who ultimately pay for the installed infrastructure and demand strict payment terms, to technology companies that evangelize the smart city concept and front-end the installation, as well as a plethora of contractors who handle the on-ground installation. The need for visibility into and transparency of the entire process is paramount, to ensure smooth operations and regular billing.

While there are many tools and software to manage discrete parts of this process (such as infrastructure installation, or inventory management, or billing), the lack of communication between these software means that the entire process is slowed down to the speed of its slowest component. A bottleneck emerges, which threatens to throttle the entire process.

What is needed is a single tool that handles everything from on-ground data entry to dashboards for visibility, in real time. Because every city is different, a one-size-fits-all tool is also impractical, since it would essentially need to be rewritten from the ground up, for every new geography. That's where Grid's No Code solution comes in.

Grid's No Code Solution For Smart Cities

Unlike legacy software tools, Grid is able to manage these installation processes from start to finish because it can accept almost any type of data and share that data among other projects. Survey data created for a street lighting project can be made available to planners immediately for installation and creation of Bills Of Quantity (BOQs) saving months of time in project execution, for example. Material availability statistics can be made available in a dashboard to vendors tasked with supplying materials, thus shortening the supply chain.

All progress can be tracked and shared with authorities to facilitate on-time billing. None of these benefits are possible when multiple different software are used by different teams, because the data in each software product lies in its own silo, inaccessible to the other software products being used.

Grid comes with a companion mobile application that makes field data collection incredibly easy. The mobile app's fields and inputs are auto-generated based on the templates and worksheets created in the Grid application. The app can use rich functionality like GPS recording, time-stamped, verifiable photos, QR codes and scanning, image based selection etc, to increase the accuracy and reliability of the data.

The mobile app thus also facilitates almost-instantaneous data capture. The data is visible in real time on dashboards that can be made available to any stakeholder who needs it, and course-corrections can be made on the fly.

SMART City Project Monitoring Dashboard

Finally, because the entire application is built without any code being written, changes in any processes can be accommodated quickly, often in a few clicks, by the (non-technically-skilled) person who needs the output - and then rolled out to the entire workforce instantly. For different geographies that pose unique challenges, even creating a brand new application with entirely different structures is possible, in just a few days.

This flexibility alone is a complete game-changer and has helped our customers reduce their project implementation costs drastically and bid for bigger projects more aggressively. Let's take a look at how this plays out:

Building Smart Cities With Grid's No Code Solution

Every smart city infrastructure installation process goes through similar stages:

  1. Survey: Before any planning can be done, an in-depth survey of the area needs to be done, taking into account topography, existing infrastructure, and other valuable data points, all of which need to be digitized. The information from these surveys, whether geo-spatial information, or information on existing infrastructure that needs to be upgraded, can be viewed in Grid. Cities can create their digital asset registers at lightning fast speed identifying dark spots in utilities.
  2. Installation / Construction plan: Based on the information in the survey, a plan can be drawn up using heuristics with timelines, deliverables and responsible parties for each step of the project for asset installation.
  3. Installation Tracking: During the installation phase, the progress needs to be tracked in as close to real time as possible, to ensure that the project is on track and timetables are being adhered to. The installation trackers designed on Grid gives near real-time visibility into project progress for tracking timelines and billing cycles. This saves more than 70% of data reconciliation time for back office teams.
  4. Inventory Management: A fast and accurate inventory tracking system is needed to ensure that materials are available at the locations they are needed, on time, without pilfering or over-assignation of resources, both of which can result in cost overruns and project delays.
  5. Operations and Maintenance Management: For the lifetime of the infrastructure project, the staff responsible for operations and maintenance will need mechanisms to track failures, repairs, usage and other activities that would need to be carried out from time to time.

Since these stages are present in each type of installation, once the basic framework is built (which itself takes just a few days) it can be templatized and applied to any installation projects, with just a few tweaks. Cities can thus have multiple teams working on Grid to manage diverse projects such as:

  • Road construction: Where new roads or extensions and widening of existing roads can be planned and executed. DPRs and Log Books can be completely digitized within hours.
  • Street Light Installation: Where energy efficient and remotely managed streetlights can be installed, maintained and operated. Using IoT technology, it is even possible for each individual street light to feed data into Grid- and have its status monitored and changed remotely for energy monitoring and O&M.
  • Smart Meter Installation: Unlike traditional electricity meters that need to be read, smart meters can collect usage data which feeds billing processes, as well as informs macro trends on electricity consumption, which can help with future supply planning and allocation of power on a dynamic, rolling basis (which reduces transmission costs and losses).
  • Water Meter Installation: Similar to electricity meters, smart water meters can also provide information beyond consumption and billing, especially when taken in the aggregate.
  • Cable laying: In order to facilitate high-speed internet access and other such services, for consumers as well as the infrastructure needs of the city, optical fiber cable and other cables need to be installed. These projects take similar shape as road construction projects and digitized measurements books can be created in real-time with GPS maps.

Once various teams are working together on their individual projects, the data from these projects can be aggregated into a command-center style dashboards, from where implementation agencies, city planners and authorities can take higher level decisions, authorize new plans, and monitor the operations of the entire city's infrastructure.

Smart City, Smart Results: Grid's No Code Solution Delivers

In order to truly appreciate the landmark breakthrough that a no code solution like Grid can offer, it's worth looking at individual benefits of using Grid that existing partners have received. For example, when any installation of some infrastructure has occurred, billing can only be authorized once the data regarding that installation has been submitted. Since this involves coordination with contractors, digitizing of paper log books, DPRs into digital spreadsheets and submitting them, there is a huge time loss here which is solved by the instantaneous nature of Grid's data ingestion.

Instead of paper logs, contractors use the Grid mobile app to enter data, which can instantly be made available to the billing department to authorize funds. Using Grid in existing infrastructure installation processes has shown a 25% increase in billing speed.

Capturing data on Grid's mobile app allows remote personnel to add information and complete survey stages much faster and more effectively than ever before.

Similarly, the simple act of having all the installation and infrastructure data on one platform, with easily configurable dashboards, has increased data discovery capabilities by 85%, allowing city planners to make decisions which materially affect the cost of running the city and increasing the quality of life for its residents.

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Vahishta Mistry
Content Team Lead at WorkOnGrid
“Using Grid to track drill program progress and day to day expenditures has allowed VR Resources to make better decisions more quickly. The highly customizable and elegant interface allows me to track and manage all aspects of our field work and it’s clear after just a few weeks that the possibilities are nearly endless. Cost tracking estimates were consistently within expected variance of invoices received giving me further confidence in managing agile drill programs. Further the development team and customer support have been top notch!”
Justin J. Daley
PGeo, MSc, Vice President Exploration
VR Resources
VR Resources
“Grid has been extremely helpful in changing the course of multiple operations, here at U-Solar. We started with one module for Materials Management, and have now adopted Grid for 3-4 more processes, all of which have been smooth and quick to implement.”
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Anirban Chatterjee
IT Manager - Corporate
Hotel Polo Towers
Hotel Polo Towers
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