Ramboll supports Indian city Udaipur through smart transformation

19 May 2016 Consultancy.uk

India's government recently launched a plan to transform 98 of its cities into smart cities. This year 20 cities have been chosen for the upgrade, including the walled-river city of Udaipur in the Rajasthan province. To develop a plan for its ‘smart’ transformation Ramboll has worked with the National University of Singapore, to create a comprehensive water, traffic and biodiversity plan for the city.

As the world is turning ever more towards urbanisation, the number of people living in cities will continue to grow over the coming decades. This increase comes with both challenges and issues for the urban eco-system – from housing and traffic management to public health, water use and education. According to the Indian Government criteria, a smart city is one that is equipped with the basic infrastructure such that its people have a decent quality of life and live in a sustainable environment through the application of smart solutions. Smart features include, among others, proper recycling of waste, renewable energy sources, energy efficient & green buildings and smart parking and intelligent traffic management systems. The city plans will need to address the basics such that citizens have regular water and electricity supplied; proper sanitation and solid waste management; efficient public transport; and good IT connectivity, among others.

India’s Urban Development Ministry, in a bid to improve the future infrastructure outcomes, will transform 98 Indian cities to smart cities. To deliver the ‘smart’ in the smart cities, the minster has asked 37 consulting and engineering firms to develop action plans for their transformation. The action plans will be developed in consultation with local authorities and state government in relation to programmes already being implemented. The plans will contain end-to-end area development action plans and financing plans.

These actions plans will then be carefully considered with the 20 best plans to receive the first funding of around $7 billion for their development this year, with 20 to 40 cities to receive funding next year. “We are not aiming at making our urban landscape look fanciful and flashy. The prime objective is to enhance the quality of urban life by addressing deficiencies in infrastructure,” said urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu.

Smart city transformation of Udaipur, India

Udaipur, India
One of the 20 cities taking part in the first round of the programme is Udaipur. The city of around 600,000 is situated in the Rajasthan province along the Banas River. The city, founded in 1553, boasts a rich cultural heritage, yet has fallen foul to environmental degradation and traffic problems that have had a knock on effect on living conditions and inhibit tourism and growth. Increasing urbanisation is creating further strain on the city’s already taxed infrastructure.

One of the consultancy firms responsible for developing the smart city plan for Udaipur is Danish consulting firm Ramboll, supported by the National University of Singapore. The firm and master’s students from the university, leveraging expertise from its Liveable Cities Lab, first turned to desk research into Udaipur’s water systems, mobility, cultural identity, tourism and morphology. This was followed by a visit to the city, and its sites, to gain first-hand experience of the issues facing the city.

The firm sent the Director of Ramboll’s Liveable Cities Lab, Herbert Dreiseitl, as well as master's students from the National University of Singapore, to the city. The party met with, among others, the Udaipur’s Municipal Commissioner to discuss how to transform the city in the smartest way possible. “To be successful in drawing on our experiences from the Nordics and Singapore, we need to prove that it can be applied in India, and a strong understanding of the local culture and ecosystems is therefore essential. To investigate this, a pilot study, or ‘studio’ of Udaipur was initiated in conjunction with nine landscape architecture master students from the National University of Singapore.”

The focus of the efforts from the party was a redesign of policies and the built environment around water, traffic and biodiversity in the city. The project proposal, which was presented to the Municipal Commissioner as well as city officials and NGO groups at the Indian Institute of Management in Udaipur, aims at a green-blue engineering programme that redesigns the Ahar River and outflows from the city using constructed wetland and cleansing biotopes.

Neel Strøbæk from Ramboll, concludes “We have now reached an important milestone through a great collaborative effort with the National University of Singapore. And if we are successful here, there is very high potential that it will open up new opportunities since there are many Indian cities that are experiencing the same challenges as Udaipur."

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How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.