Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Transportation is the bridge! It should be a fundamental right!

July 4th or August 15th the two independence days of note in my life- US and Indian always make me ponder on what is the meaning of independence , what is the meaning of being a citizen? what are the right and duties?  Given my current involvement with all things digital and mobile- it is no surprise then that my focus was on digitization of transportation and services and what it means to an ordinary citizen.

Consider the facts, most of the job creation is in affluent areas of cities and most of the affordable housing is remote. Most of the medical facilities are in the heart of cities and most of the people who are in dire need of health care- are immobile or unable to afford transportation. the likes of Google maps, Uber and Lyft have meant massive gains and advantages for those digitally savvy but a large section of those needing affordable transport are not digitized yet- in fact a recent trip on the SF BART made this point clearer to me than ever before. I was traveling from the East Bay to the airport when a differently abled person with vision impairment and I got talking. It so happened that she was from Switzerland and I happen to speak German so the conversation was engaging and enlightening. The most striking part of it was that she owned a cell phone with buttons due to the ability of "braille" and secondly she ordered a taxi because she could talk to an operator! It occurred to me that no one was thinking about her needs in the new age economy as a priority - the touch screen had eliminated what she was most conversant with - the touch screen rideshare app  or with transport on demand in the future that would make it hugely convenient for her to travel were not designed for her and many such people who needed shared mobility as a fundamental ingredient of life. If the taxi call center would go away- she would not be able to go teach, or do groceries or go to her doctor! There are several such stories of the economically weaker section as well! Any divide that separates us- ability or economically - should not define our ability to approach or reach the opportunity !

To break the cycle to fully allow people to capitalize on opportunities we need to transport those in need to where their needs can be met- be it jobs, educations, healthcare or other forms of activities, in the most economical manner- so that transportation and digitization don't divide but unite the people. We need to start with making transportation a fundamental right !

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

consolidation of various observations!

It has been a while since I last wrote here - and lots has happened! Really Lots!I am fully immersed and baptized in Natural Gas and have been involved in the whole nine yards- from wells to wheels! I have also completed a full year working in India and living in Mumbai! First things first - Natural gas is now unstoppable as a transport fuel- the big daddy of energy users- America- has finally warmed up to the idea- this means one thing- big money and capital- so if this trend can be sustained - unlike ethanol - we are in for a big change in acceptance, model availability and infrastructure. Capital spurts innovation and so we can finally hope to move way from age old systems to new natural gas transport solutions. So my hunch is that we will move away from engined made for gasoline and run on natural gas- to engines that were designed to run on a gaseous fuel! II feel Natural gas engines or may be micro turbines and fuel systems and filling technology will develop and evolve to give an experience far superior than todays converted low end machines. In essence you wont get an afterthought model with a riveted steel plate with the necessary kit specifications but a full fledged engineered machine - that was developed right from the start to run on CNG or LNG - depending on your need of city run or long haul transport! The change will be bigger than you can imagine because small towns will suddenly boom if they have shale rock or LNG terminals and there will be geopolitical energy production shift! There will be developments right from drilling safely to using efficiently- ins harp contrast from today! I have strong hope also for bio gas and bio CNG to transform rural developing countrysides and not just advanced nations like Germany and Sweden. I think Waste Management in USA has been quietly but surely making large strides o waste to energy and gas and the model will evolve and adapt- already 1 in 2 new garbage trucks run on natural gas in America! Early adopters will be large machines with access to gas like fracking tucks and gensets used in the drilling and transport of natural gas and even oil. The shift has been set in motion! Now to Mumbai - and an amazing experience of the road marathon! what stood out most was the amazing spirit of people - in a city too busy on a normal day to even stop and breathe- the crowd support and even the spirit of participation is AMAZING! I salute the spirit of the city and all those volunteers who came out - some spending their own money to provide the runners with beverages and glucose supplies in various forms and flavors. I also salute two men in particular who I had the honor to run with - one was a 67 year old gentleman by the name of Mr Kothari who finished the half in around 2:38 and another gentleman who was running the half with a blade right prosthetic - unfortunately I could not get his name during the run- but they were a true display of the strength of human spirit! My other comments of Mumbai - after living for one year are mostly negative and it is hard to be optimistic in a city bursting on its seams and torn by unnecessary politics. If industrial, financial and political power houses came together though- I dont think the problems are insurmountable! - Mostly one has to rethink some basic "accepted ideas" like traffic flow- stop lights (or the lack of respect for the red!), resource utilization - waste management - and waste to energy to name a few important points! We have some isolated models that work - but its time Mumbai- Navi Mumbai, Thane, Belapur, Panvel and all other nearby suburbs came together to improve the quality of life and reduce the pollution, scarcity, traffic indiscipline and various other issues that are slowly eating the good basic nature of people and destroying their natural spirit - a spirit that they displayed on the Mumbai Marathon day!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

CNG is coming to a pump near you!

After years of burning in the background - used for domestic heating and cooking, industrial production of fertilizers, firing commercial boilers for steam and running turbines for electricity - it is finally coming to the US transportation market in a big way.

Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome to the main stage- Natural Gas!

Found abundantly - priced nicely- requiring little or no more processing than filtration- easily transportable in pipes - the solution we always knew existed is finally being taken seriously!

Ironically Natural gas used to be flared as waste at most oil rigs and refineries! Now it is being promoted by a business tycoon Pickens and many energy companies who have bet heavily on this fuel - there is traction now in the chambers of powers that matter!

The solution has been proven successful despite much criticism in India, Argentina and even Iran. After all if something can fire a turbine to create 1MW of electricity why cant it run a passenger car?

Honda is offering the Civic Natural gas already and many mid and large size commercial vehicles are already available. In fact school busses and taxis have adopted it since over 5 years. Unknown to most - there are already over 1100 fueling stations in America. In Los Angeles alone there are over a 2000 CNG busses.

UPS has been using CNG since late 90s, Waste Management has used it since 2009, AT&T has newly made the switch, Ryder is testing it with trucks, Chesapeake energy has switched 800 of its fleet already and many more smaller operators and airport fleets have been quietly getting off their diesel/gasoline gluttony and moving to a frugal CNG diet.

The advantages are too obvious to miss: local production and abundance, no need for expensive sea transportation and refining, 50- 705% lower emissions and very little change required to the traditional IC engines.

So get ready - you might be soon seeing three new letters next to the gas pumps - "CNG"

I must caution that challenges always arise and technology must be used to conquer- for example for the safe drilling and early leak detection of natural gas. But truly these are not insurmountable and no different to those we face with any fossil fuel or combustible gasses.

Ready to make the switch?

PLEASE go to NGVC.org for more information!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Water Reuse - a second life for a sparse, precious resource!

About 1 billion people lack the access to clean water! More children and adults die of water borne diseases than HIV or Cancer!. These are just some of the heartbreaking facts associated with the lack of clean water!

Yet we take this resource for granted- Everyday in the developed parts of the world!

While the gas prices soar and catch everyone’s eyes, water being relatively economical and "readily" available goes unnoticed as a key resource. Yet water is as much a back bone of any nation as energy! Wars have been fought on this very subject in the past, kingdoms have been wiped out by water shortages, tribes have been consumed borne diseases and lest we be careful, history will repeat itself!
Respect this natural resource! Soon summer will arrive and people will dump water on their lawns to keep them green. While I am certainly one who appreciates green lawns, manicured gardens and golf courses- I also believe in balance. Do we really need ultra- purified drinking water for irrigation? Certainly not! A new wave of technology and thinking can help re-use domestic gray water for such purposes. Some nations have taken the lead on this subject- Singapore being the model. Others lag behind. The acceptance of water reuse lies in educating people on the advantages and dispelling the key stigmas in their minds.

It is for this reason that I will take up this issue in depth and coordinate with various agencies and not for profit organizations to spread better understanding of water, filtration and water use .

I hope you will join in and help me in my campaigns

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

... and the winner is...

This month the Indian Cricket Team won the ICC Cricket World Cup - and the real winner is the Indian masses- and specially our cultural diversity, tolerance and unity! How?

A significant start was engineered by destiny when India and Pakistan played in the Semi-Final at Mohali , Punjab. Remember Punjab was at the center stage of discord at the time of partition in 1947 and again in the terrorism era in the 80s. The Wagah border post remains one of the most heavily manned border posts in the world and unfortunately there is still the theatrical flag hoisting and un-hoisting ceremony everyday! For the sake of two nations with very large populations and enough issues to tackle, settling the border dispute and moving on to purposeful nation building would be extremely welcome and productive. Every dollar spent less on border protection and diverted to basic issues such as sanitation, education and infrastructure will help improve the living conditions of millions. I firmly believe that a well educated and employed population is less likely to develop frustrations. Frustration in the masses is the key manipulation point for evil forces that are at the very root of this unnecessary conflict.

I am an offshoot of dislodged refugees from the 1947 division, yet I feel strongly that the time has come to bury the hatchet and move on!

Path breaking was the unity shown in the team by players from different regions. This should blow away the Raj Thackeray agenda and make everyone think about what matters most- how we are one nation and stand united. The players united to dedicate this victory to Sachin Tendulkar- perhaps one of the greatest sportsmen to grace the sport. His class oozing style, humble nature and inspiring attitude have made him the favorite of not just Indians but cricket lovers all over the world! Those who have followed the recent chants by Raj Thackeray, will know that this will go a long way in countering the man’s incessant and potentially inciting talk fueling regional separatism. India is a sovereign nation and any regional division is a threat to its prosperity and growth.
What I also believe is a winner, is the self belief in the nation- this sporting glory will bring self confidence to a billion people- after all this was a world stage!
Ok, Cricket is limited to a dozen plus countries - and yes we are the most populous out of these. It is still a well recognized team sport and needs all the tough physical and mental attributes to win - athleticism, tenacity, patience, drive, courage, self belief, selflessness, focus on the larger picture and the team goal to name a few important ones!
India overcame multiple teams and adversity- including a poor start in the balling and fielding department to be triumphant. To me the most heartening was the way they fielded in the final – as if they really wanted to get this win! It should sheer determination and grit, which are the hallmarks of true achievers!
You go India - you go!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What part of digitizing is surprising (the book publishers and et al)? The future of catalog sales?

This morning I was really shocked to hear on NPR that publishers of books still have not planned their digital strategy and are trying to fight it through litigation! Are we going to see another music industry repeat?

If the publishers and for that matter anybody in the business of distributing data/information that can be digitized - made easy to access online and on demand - still have not woken up- they have to be living under a rock!

Kindle / iPad, smart phones etc etc ... can you even step outside without smelling, seeing, and feeling the changes underway?

If the publishers do not want to serve the low end or the very high end market with published books and the mid tier market with digital publishing - and willing to cut costs - they might be looking at a very bleak future! And if they are surprised with the digital revolution - they must really look around at parallel businesses and even what happened to the encyclopedia!

I highly recommend more companies and industries to start thinking real time digital with compatible devices! This is the future- in fact if you have a lot of salesmen and customers regularly accessing data sheets and pricing for 1000+ products - getting them on-line , on demand and ready to order - even just by your partner channels is going to be key- so pick your device today, Pick your digitizing company today - and get going NOW - race ahead of the pack!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Innoventuitive Business Strategy or The Art of Delivering a Consumer Experience Beyond Great!

Innoventuitive is a word play on Innovation, Invention and Intuition!

Let us first read the meanings of the three words from one of the leading online dictionaries.

Innovation is defined by the Merriam Webster as
1 : the introduction of something new
2 : a new idea, method, or device: Novelty


Invention is defined by the same source as
1 : Discovery , Finding
2 : Productive Imagination
3 a : something invented: as (1) : a product of the imagination; especially : a false conception (2) : a device, contrivance, or process originated after study and experiment b : a short keyboard composition featuring two- or three-part counterpoint
4 : the act or process of inventing



Intuition is defined as
1 : quick and ready insight
2 a : immediate apprehension or cognition b : knowledge or conviction gained by intuition c : the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference.


I believe these three factors are the most powerful to understand and anticipate a customers need, put the imagination of creative minds to test and to come up with a product or service, not expected or delivered today !

There I could stop here but let me explain how I think companies need to go from innovation strategies to Innoventutitive strategies.

Business has dramatically changed and the speed of business and information flow is much faster than ever before. On-demand has a whole new meaning today and every day the time interval for any action becomes shorter and shorter. Top technology companies like Google certainly revolutionized the power of the online search and now is focussing on the mobile platform, Apple and Microsoft continue to challenge the way we think about computers, mobility and interfacing with technology, Intel continues to redefine the limits of processors, IBM is fostering a smarter planet , General Electric is reinventing the way we know energy and the examples go on and on.

What does this mean to your company? How and why are consumer behaviors changing?
For one the average consumer is becoming spoilt with choices,
second they have access to a lot more information to take a decision,
third, they are getting more and more simplification of previously tedious or complex processes,
fourth they are exposed to new challenges replacing the old ones which now do not exist because the essence of civilization is change and moving forward
finally they are being pampered to impatience through quick delivery!

The web and mobile options means, one can check the truth in your statements and value propositions anytime anywhere, including third party and consumer reviews. The smarter search engines mean they can get good answers and collaborate with someone on the other side of the globe QUICK. Smarter gadgets and appliances allow us to reduce the time we spend doing mundane chores and be more effective. I am willing to bet that smarter surroundings are making us think in new ways and dimensions. Finally if there is a customer, with a need not fulfilled, they want great companies to discover, understand it, develop into a product or service and deliver FAST!

So the only way to be beyond great is to actually anticipate the need without the rational yet being fully established- that is Intuition, to test the limits of current models or thinking that is innovation and actually deliver a product or service to fulfill it, that is invent!

Happy INNOVENTUITING! Hey on a current subject- can anyone make a vuvu filter before the round of 16?