IT campuses around the country are virtual sitting ducks when it comes to safety and security, besides lacking in adequate infrastructure

Information Technology (IT) parks that helped India take centre stage in the global business arena and allowed its young entrepreneurs to prove their mettle now need to seriously focus on re-building infrastructure and prepare for future challenges in a changed global environment.

According to a pan-India study — ‘Assessment of IT campus environments' — conducted by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Vestian Global Workplace Services, these IT parks are not prepared to combat terror threat and deal with natural disasters, while other infrastructure issues related to power supply, parking and transport also needs immediate attention.

The study, which was conducted to evaluate existing IT campuses on parameters such as basic amenities, planning highlights, safety and security, operations and maintenance (O&M) and innovation, covered 15 renowned IT campuses in Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Gurgaon, Noida and Thiruvananthapuram that employ around three lakh professionals.

The study says that limited effort are being made towards safeguarding IT campuses from terror threat, while companies feel that installation of expensive terror combating features does not necessarily add economic value to the parks. Similarly, the IT industry is reportedly not serious in implementing safety plan and training programmes; even fire drills as prescribed under the National Building Code (NBC) are not conducted regularly.

IT parks were also found wanting when it came providing better access to physically challenged people. Suggesting major improvements in building designs, the study found that the building design across IT campuses is not 100 per cent compliant to The Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 where aspects like dedicated parking space for physically challenged people, lifts supporting their requirements, anti-skid material on floor have been found somewhat lacking.

The study suggests that in order to ensure full compliance to NBC guidelines for technology space, a few changes in the NBC are required. It also calls for separate classification as technology parks under commercial buildings in NBC with guidelines that cater to the sector. On the power shortage issue, it says the government needs to improve electricity provision to IT campuses, while developers of large IT campuses should evaluate feasibility of developing captive power plants (if possible through using renewable energy sources).

Referring to the evolution of the Indian IT and ITES sector, the study says the first decade (1991-2000) of the sector growth period witnessed establishment of basic physical infrastructure to support its functions, while the next decade (2001-2010) improvised this and established support social and business infrastructure for IT developments.

Talking about trends in the current decade (2011-2020) in design and operations of IT campuses, the study points out that there will be further improvisation of social and business infrastructure in IT campuses and rise in percentage of development of integrated IT developments and townships. Apart from increased collaboration between developers and occupiers, the focus is also on enhancement of efficiency in building operations and systems through rise in adoption of green certification, and on adoption on sustainable transport infrastructure and systems.