It’s not uncommon for someone to take a municipality building plan approval for 3 floors and then build 5 floors – while violating permits and evading commercial and property taxes for the floors that don’t exist on paper.
Whether it’s using technology to tell municipalities about buildings not in records, (therefore evading taxes) or assessing complex environmental and engineering problems through their map-based products and tools, there is a need for intelligent space mapping that can help people make decisions. This is what Transerve Technologies, incubated at IIM-Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), provides: geo-spatial customised solutions to improve decision making through a multi-disciplinary team of environmental specialists, planners and engineers, all working on solutions using maps.
We speak with Amarsh Chaturvedi one of the co-founders of Transerve Technologies to learn more.
How it started
Ashwani Rawat and Amarsh Chaturvedi were at IIT-Kanpur when they interned with DRDO and saw the use of geospatial technologies in the military. They realised that these technologies could also have civilian uses. On graduating from IIT-K, they worked in a Gurgaon based analytics firm for a short while before launching Transerve in 2009.
Transerve is based out of Goa, a conscious decision by Amarsh and Ashwani – they figured that starting in a small state was good for a startup like theirs where government officials would be easier to meet and talent easier to source.
Transerve: supporting solutions out of data, from taxes to ecological preservation
Transerve’s flagship product based of their geo-spatial mapping technology is aimed at helping urban local bodies with their revenues. Municipalities levy various taxes – on property, water, roads, signage (yes, billboards are supposed to be taxed too) etc. Some of these taxes are easily evaded, and the municipality is often handicapped without manpower, technology, or resources to afford sophisticated solutions offered by big companies like IBM or Microsoft.
How is it different from a product like Google Earth?
The technology doesn’t just give a top view (like Google) – it also provides information on number of users etc. Data like this quickly becomes stale, so their platform is updated often and is supplemented with field data collection. They use a combination of mobile data collection and web based maps to give floor-wise visualisation. The team currently has 11 members handling end to end operations, from surveying to building analytics intelligence on top of their maps.
Smarter municipalities using Transerve
One of Transerve’s projects in a ward in Panaji showed that 23% of the buildings were not in records and over 60% were not paying commercial taxes. Their solutions provided a revenue increase of 112,170 USD in just one ward. There are two impacts from this kind of work – increase in revenue to the government and also greater accountability from the government.
This is just one of the solutions offered by Transerve and they are looking to provide solutions to real estate companies and other municipalities. They are working with the Goa Tourism Department in developing nature trails and visualisation of an eco-tourism complex in Goa. Their services could also be used to monitor mining and deforestation. They are also looking to start a project to monitor MNREGA projects and beneficiaries.
There are also solutions they could develop using data provided by the customer itself- for example, several local bodies have conducted surveys and have never meaningfully used the resultant data.
“As a startup- of course the biggest challenge has been costs! We’ve tried to tackle the problem using our location where real estate is relatively cheaper. We are looking at investors to come onboard,” says Chaturvedi.
Chaturvedi says he’d like to do something in the water and sanitation space – as this is so critical yet so neglected and perhaps in developing possible hardware to monitor water quality.
The Alternative is an online media publication focused on sustainable living and social impact.