Smart Cities – start with a vision, design around people, and build on trust

Mohammad Al Otaibi of Orange Business Services Saudi Arabia explains how smart cities need a vision and a plan

Tags: Orange Business ServicesSmart cities
  • E-Mail
Smart Cities – start with a vision, design around people, and build on trust Smart city developers need the right partners, says Al Otaibi.
By  Mohammad Turki Al Otaibi Published  March 24, 2019

The rapidly developing smart cities in the Middle East will improve the lives of citizens and residents, through everything from mobility solutions to sustainable energy and smart grids, but they are dependent on the free, frictionless and efficient flows of data - this is what really makes cities ‘smart'.

With annual smart city technology spending in the Middle East set to double over the next four years, with a concentration on Dubai and Riyadh (KPMG "The Rise of Smart Cities - Digital Transformation in the Public Sector" report) the sector is inevitably attracting a lot of interest from players interested in entering the smart city eco-system; but a smart city is a complex ‘system of systems'. Focusing on data (not infrastructure) is vital in the context of the smart city and we focus specifically on the six steps of the data journey - collect, transport, protect, store and process, analyse, share and create.

However, smart cities developers should have the trusted advisor who can help in guiding and developing the ICT master plan that articulates clearly how the technology could enable and contribute to building the required ‘smartness' from day zero, by developing a vision and strategy, infrastructure design guidelines, and building the blueprint for the ICT model. Then, it's the challenge of securing the partner who can manage the inter-connection between multiple service providers, handling the vendor management process for the ICT streams on top of setting up the right governance model for successful implementation.

Smart cities should essentially be designed around human needs (human-centricity) and built on a foundation of trust. Blockchain is a key enabler in addressing the issue of building ‘trust' into the smart city. The disruptive technologies of Smart Cities include both blockchain and machine learning, which combine to accelerate a smart city's ‘IoT economy'. BaaS (Blockchain-as-a-Service) is one route to ensuring that the blockchain platform can enable smart city services and contracts across multiple use cases from digital currencies to in-store retail analytics. Proof of concept work is already underway in the region.

Smart cities are a major focus for Orange Business Services in the Arabian Gulf region, where we have been tailoring solutions for some of the region's most high-profile smart city developments over the last 10 years, including in Saudi Arabia at The Digital City - ITCC; The Royal Commission at Yanbu; King Abdullah Financial District; King Abdul Aziz Road; Jeddah Economic City; and Al Widyan.

Orange Business Services was recently awarded a smart city consulting contract for the new seven million square meter real estate development (Al Widyan) in Riyadh's northern growth corridor, where Orange consultants are defining the smart city services, ICT infrastructure engineering guidelines, the operating model for the development, and the business strategy and options for the open access network.

In the UAE, Orange Business Services is partnering with du to deliver a complete range of smart city services for Silicon Park in Dubai. The government of Dubai has created a roadmap that comprises over 500 smart initiatives and services spread out over eight government entities and two smart districts. The infrastructure for this roadmap is extensive and has required investment of around US $8 billion. The first stage of these initiatives has been designed to focus on connectivity and technological infrastructure, including programs such as Smart Governance.

Innovation never stops in a smart city as new use cases and possibilities arise. Dubai's innovation leadership is influencing the entire region - we recently opened a new Middle East ‘innovation hub' and regional business headquarters in Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO), aimed at encouraging collaboration and innovation; the hub is also our regional centre of excellence for smart cities. DSO is home to the Dubai Smart City Accelerator, which is work with startups to drive innovation in smart city solutions.

Mohammad Al Otaibi is Managing Director, Orange Business Services Saudi Arabia.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code