This post is part of our Future of Smart Cities series which interviews the leading founders and executives who are on the front lines of the industry to get a better understanding of what problems the industry is facing, what trends are taking place, and what the future looks like.
The following is an interview we recently had with Harsh Joshi, Lead Developer, Technical Team Lead at Smart Joules.
1. What’s the history of Smart Joules? Where and how did you begin?
HJ: Smart Joules is on a mission to reduce energy wastage since 2014. Our very first client to use the version 1 of our DeJoule platform and JoulePays system, was Sant Parmanand hospital in New Delhi, India. In just 6 months we were able to achieve up to 35% reduction in their monthly energy consumption. Today we have a pan India presence and are rolling out version 2 of our DeJoule platform.
It's been an amazing journey so far, iterating over hardware, software, and system architecture in whole. We have big plans for the future of this industry with version 3 in works based on the feedback from our customers and engineers alike. My team's size has tripled in under a year of joining Smart Joules and with new young minds coming in this Spring, it's going to grow some more. Our beginning was very humble. However, our efforts have not gone unnoticed. We won First Prize at National Energy Conservation Awards from Ministry of Power, Government of India in 2016. We won the National Award for Excellence in Energy Management from CII in 2016 & 2017. Among various other awards and fellowships that we have received so far, we also received the Climate Fellowship from Echoing Green in 2015. We are expanding aggressively and everyone on the team is motivated by the core values upon which this company was founded.
2. What specific problem does Smart Joules solve? How do you solve it?
HJ: Today in this age of unprecedented growth in consumption of energy, our capacity to generate energy is not keeping up at the same pace. Wasting energy is a crime. However, like with most crimes, it's not the ones who are wasting this energy (industrial buildings utilizing energy processes) that are paying for their crimes. It is the households in villages who can not purchase electricity at such elevated prices from the grid, who pay for our wastefulness in blackouts.
The good news is, that these buildings and energy processes are constantly talking. They are talking in their language of signal and we can listen to that chatter in terms of data and understand the unique signatures of these processes and their behaviour as they go forward in time. But the BMS (Building Management Systems) that are in place, are designed from the perspective of ease of control, or data collection; as opposed to optimization of energy consumption.
That's where we come in. We design systems, that, monitor, analyze and control the energy processes; to optimize the energy consumption by estimating best controls as per their unique energy signature. All this from the data being streamed in real-time. IoT technology coupled with AI algorithms help in achieving this.
However, it's going to be a while till Systems AI is far from perfected. It's a fairly nascent field, albeit one, that's been picking up a lot of attention in the engineering community recently. And that poses a lot of challenges for our engineering as well as operations team. Deploying such systems in mission-critical industrial settings, like hospitals for example, where precision is of utmost importance, is an uncharted territory, which makes it all the more interesting for all the eager young minds at Smart Joules.
We design the complete pipeline for automated analysis in-house. From IoT hardware that interfaces with these energy processes to server backends that handle the data traffic and our control platform for detailed analysis, and off-course, all the firmware, and machine learning algorithms in between. This gives us the ability to tailor-make the solution as per the live feedback we receive and tune it with over incredibly fast development cycles. The entire process is field data-driven but inspired by the most cutting-edge technologies available to our team's disposal. And in this way, we get the best of both worlds to solve the energy efficiency problems for our customers giving them phenomenal results at affordable prices.
3. What’s the future of smart cities?
HJ: Today we have more data coming in than we know what to do with. But that's only because we are still waiting for the market adoption of some key technologies in Blockchain, Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence. Like I mentioned how Systems AI is still a fairly young field but the adoption of open source technologies and these communities of passionate engineers, economists and mathematicians alike, is changing this fast. And when the inflection point arises we are going to have to rethink our entire infrastructure in terms of these technologies; like how the advent of internal combustion engine, telephones and computers changed everything. From financial systems and energy grids to even that most basic things like how we consume edibles in going to be transformed by these big three. It is interesting that we are currently not capable of getting the intuition of how fast exactly is this going to happen, even when we understand the technology and its market adoption on some level.
“Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear”.
4. What are the top 3 technology trends shaping cities of the future?
Trend #1: IoT.
Trend #2: AI.
Trend #3: Blockchain.
Those are the big three. A couple of decades from now, we are going to look back at this time when everyday something new was in the news and almost every new finding was a breakthrough, and it always seemed like there was a shiny new toy in the market every day. But in the near future, we are going to wonder how we ever managed lived without it and will be telling our children and grandchildren the stories of our generation which will include these anecdotes of wastefulness and inefficiency. And this new age industrial revolution is going to be led by data, lots of it.
About Harsh Joshi
I lead the development of our DeJoule platform here at Smart Joules. My time is split between designing system architecture, writing the firmware for IoT devices, working with data intelligence and tracking project development status. Before joining Smart Joules, I was working closely with Agriculture scientists and farmers of India. I graduated in 2016 with Bachelors in Electronics and Communication Technology from Uttarakhand Technical University, India. I have been working with Indian Council of Agriculture Research, Central Soil Salinity Research Institute and NGO NEFORD for the development of affordable precision agriculture products since 2014.