Creating the IoT ecosystem
Safder Nazir, vice president - Smart Cities & IoT, Huawei Middle East discusses how the company is working with the public sector in the region to address the opportunities of digitalisation
In what areas is Huawei working with government in the region today?
At Huawei we are ultimately driven by a desire to build a better connected world. That can only be done through strong, long-term partnerships with the public sector. As we continue to drive the Smart City agenda in particular, Huawei is working with governments to identify how they can use ICT to enhance performance and public wellbeing, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and also to engage more effectively with their citizens. We do this through our unique and comprehensive ‘cloud–pipe–device’ strategy.
Huawei’s end-to-end capabilities are of particular value in the development of national ICT initiatives like Smart Cities; an example of how Huawei joins its expertise across the carrier, enterprise and consumer ICT markets to build a better connected world. That is seen in the region today as Huawei provides solutions and services to multiple industries including healthcare, education, finance, transportation, and energy, to name a few.
What are some of Huawei’s key focus areas?
We recognize that the boundaries of the Internet of Things are quickly expanding. Within the Middle East, cities are already becoming more intelligent and connected, changing the way that citizens and governments interact.
With that in mind, some of the latest innovations we are focusing on right now are in the domain of IoT applications, cloud computing, mobility, software-defined networking, 4G LTE, and the future build up to 5G mobile connectivity. Cloud technology has been a buzzword for several years now. However, ensuring reliable and convenient city services cannot be done today without having the ability to harness big data and cloud applications. Standardizing ICT infrastructure will also foster the development of Internet applications, including government IoT applications. To address this, we are starting to see innovations such as LiteOS, the world’s most lightweight IoT OS. The Internet of Things will also require massive access capabilities over wireless networks. The advancement of 4.5G mobile broadband will make these cellular IoT applications a reality.
What solutions do you have for smart cities and safer cities? Are any of these live in the region at present?
Huawei is uniquely positioned to help government and municipality leaders transition their smart city initiatives from concept to reality. To date, Huawei has participated in over 60 smart city projects in more than 20 countries worldwide, cooperating with over 1,100 technology providers and 800 services and system integrators. We regularly showcase to government leaders how municipalities are being restructured through more intelligent transportation networks, smart utility-management tools, and cloud-based virtual platforms that help governments to create more efficient e-services for their citizens.
In places like Saudi Arabia, Huawei has announced a partnership with Jeddah Municipality setting forth a clear vision and mandate to deliver leading smart city services in the country. The UAE is another country where Huawei has successfully showcased its wealth of experience deploying Smart City solutions. Huawei has helped build the mobile transmission network for the Dubai Metro Green Line, for example, which allows for its thousands of passengers to have access to mobile services across 18 of its metro stations. The UAE is also home to our Smart City Center of Excellence for the Middle East, a knowledge hub for industry professionals to share best practices in Smart City development that will prove fundamental in improving the quality of life of citizens in the region.
What solutions do you have in IoT, and how will networks adapt to support the large volume of IoT traffic?
As citizens realize the benefits of widespread and fast device connectivity through IoT, Huawei believes that cities will increasingly rely on mobile broadband as a key enabler of Smart City services in many areas; from government to transportation, utilities, education and more.
At the core of Huawei’s IoT portfolio, represented in our Smart City solutions, are our Smart Government, Smart Industry and Smart Life applications. These solutions ultimately promote stable urban development, optimal resource utilization, and citizen satisfaction. We see the potential for the Middle East region to lead the way in IoT deployment, and hence we are starting to trial innovations like our latest Cellular IoT (C-IoT) within the region.
How are you working with government, enterprise partners and telcos to make smart cities and IoT a reality in the region?
With an unparalleled commitment to ICT research and development and an end-to-end portfolio of technology solutions, Huawei is ideally placed to drive Middle East IoT initiatives.
At this year’s Jeddah Smart City Summit, for example, Huawei showcased to government leaders how municipalities are being restructured through more intelligent transportation networks, smart utility-management tools and cloud-based virtual platforms that help governments to create more efficient e-services for their citizens.
In places like Qatar, we are also putting forward intelligent transportation solutions to the public sector. Based on more than twenty years’ experience in information and communication technologies research and development, Huawei offers expertise in railway, roadway, aviation and seaport systems. Innovative technologies such as GSM-R and Hybrid MSTP are already helping Middle East companies get to the heart of transport development in line with their Smart City initiatives.
We maintain that as citizens realise the benefits of a better connected world, cities in the Middle East will increasingly rely on high-speed mobile broadband as an enabler of smart services from government. Huawei is thus focused on the advancement of 4G LTE and 4.5G mobile broadband together with leading operators.
How important are universal standards to IoT, M2M, etc.?
Standards are essential if we want to realise the full potential of IoT. We are already finding universal standards critical to implementing Smart City solutions around the globe. For example, communication security that is essential to M2M applications for banking cannot be guaranteed over unlicensed spectrum.
If we look at mobile broadband connectivity as an example of another ICT technology that required universal standards and regulation, we can see a variety of organisations both governmental and non-governmental at work. These will be essential to IoT as well.
What ICT solutions do you think will be most important to governments in the next two years?
The real power of digitization is being able to connect businesses, cities and people in ways that create better experiences for everyone. The emergence of the Internet of Things is fuelling this transformation and already bringing immense opportunities to the Middle East.
We see the ICT industry as a whole now moving towards more open standards and ecosystems. This enables the full industry chain to become a powerful engine driving the advancement of other sectors. We will be showcasing many of these ICT innovations at events like this month’s GITEX Technology Week and GSMA Mobile 360 Series. Now is the time for action, and we look forward to working with all government stakeholders to build a better connected world.