Just as the rest of the world was facing the prospect of a lockdown due to the worldwide health crisis, Ashish Agarwal found himself in lockdown as well. Except his shelter-in-place was a tiny town.
To be specific, it’s the Connected Hub tiny town at Oracle’s Innovation Lab in Chicago. Agarwal moved into a position at the Innovation Lab just as the lockdown took effect in March. In addition to the Connected Hub, the Innovation Lab, currently under construction, includes technology from two other Oracle other business units, Construction and Engineering, and Communications.
The Innovation Lab will have other Oracle products and features, from the construction engineering global business unit, and communications GBU each contributing different real-world solutions. From this technology-laden building, Oracle can demonstrate its technological prowess across multiple platforms using both physical and virtual demonstrations.
And physically, it’s within the Innovation Lab that most of the Tiny Town/Connected Hub model resides. Sections of the town can be sent to events, or other sites for physical viewing, but the best way to see the complete features of Tiny Town is a virtual visit.
That’s where Agarwal’s digital expertise really shines. Since the health crisis, a virtual visit is the only way to see the systems work together to create energy efficiency and customer savings. Its buildings are connected to an electrical network with smart meters, substations and a bevy of other high-tech connections (including a working drone) normally found in every neighborhood, town and city in the world, just on a much smaller scale.
“Tiny Town shows how solutions can work with a neighborhood at scale,” says Agarwal.
Like the technology for utilities, the Innovation Lab offers a broad scope of solutions that solve complex business issues, and accelerate customer success. And a big part of those solutions is the technology embedded in Tiny Town, both physical, and digitally. Visitors will soon be able to “drop in” and explore Tinny Town in a virtual model.
“We’re developing a Sim City approach to Tiny Town,” says Agarwal. “Right now, myself, or someone has to help a customer experience Tiny Town. By the end of the year, we’re planning that a customer can do the virtual tour themselves.”
Agarwal spends a lot time working in and around the tiny town models, and helping customers understand the neighborhood’s benefits mostly virtually. The Connected Hub exists both as a physical representation of a neighborhood, and as a virtual community open to online (and socially-distanced) visitation.
“The big thing about Tiny Town is it’s experiential,” says Agarwal, who has become something of a hit on social media as well. It’s been so engaging, even Agarwal’s sons have gotten in on the action. His oldest even joined in a Star Wars themed activity on Twitter while both boys were featured in a fun blog Agarwal wrote.
Agarwal’s ability to converge technology expertise with a collaborative spirit made him the best person to work in the new Innovation Lab, guiding customers through the Connected Hub’s virtual town square. That technology proficiency allows him to innovate even further.
“It’s that collaborative effort from within the company that makes this lab so unique,” says Agarwal. “This is where we can demonstrate what can be achieved for customers, and it’s in a remarkable setting that is very impactful.”
Tiny Town inside the Innovation Lab, and all the other one-of-a-kind solutions will be available for up-close viewing someday for customers. In the meantime, Agarwal is ready to take everyone on a virtual tour.
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