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Smart cities building on data gleaned from public sector services

Smart city trends outlined in Huawei-commissioned report

Nazir: Cities in the Middle East need to start planning to support a huge number of connections across a wide range of smart city services
Nazir: Cities in the Middle East need to start planning to support a huge number of connections across a wide range of smart city services

Smart cities across the Middle East are increasingly using data collected from different public services to improve sustainability, quality of life and the performance and efficiency of services, according to an independent white paper from Analysys Mason that was commissioned by Huawei.

The report, Approaches to deploying IoT and smart cities in the Middle East, was released at this week's Arab Future Cities Summit, being held in Dubai. It outlines the operating models adopted by smart cities in the Middle East, identifies the key services that are being deployed in the region today, the benefits they hope to deliver, and the technologies and standards needed to support those services.

Looking to real-life applications, the paper also delves into services such as street lighting, city parking, smart metering, and waste management, recommending fresh operating models and technologies that smart cities in the Middle East may consider in advancing such infrastructure. The authors further make the case for stakeholders in the Middle East to deploy an "anchor" smart city service and develop a set of key learnings before moving onto other projects.

"Cities in the Middle East need to start planning to support a huge number of connections across a wide range of smart city services," said Safder Nazir, vice president of Smart Cities & IoT at Huawei Middle East.

"The deployment of the smart city projects will be driven by cities' needs to reduce CO2 emissions, use fewer resources, increase productivity and improve well-being. As such, this research can help organisations in the Middle East to carefully plan their projects, maximise return on investment as well as to deliver further benefits to citizens."

The report outlines a number of recommendations for developing smart city projects and deploying associated services.

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Erik Almqvist, head of Analysys Mason Middle East, said: "Cities in the Middle East should consider adopting the centralised or hybrid operating model approach to deploy a smart city project, as opposed to a fragmented approach, to minimise CAPEX and OPEX costs. They should also consider how to maximise the value of data that smart city services create."

In particular, the report made four key recommendations:

The operating model selected depends on a city's circumstance
Cities in the Middle East could consider adopting a centralised or hybrid model as opposed to a fragmented approach. Both the centralised and the hybrid models use a common, select number of technology networks and a limited number of platforms to support smart city services. These models help to minimise capital and operating costs.

A limited number of networks that address the needs of multiple services
Many smart city services have similar requirements, such as an ICT network that provides wide-area coverage, delivers high propagation, and only needs to connect to low-cost devices powered by batteries. Cities that are planning their smart city strategy may consider how low-powered, wide-area (LPWA) networks will address their service needs.

Cities should consider how best to support future smart city services
Cities will have to support an increasing range of smart city services, many of which are not yet being commonly deployed as part of smart city projects. The characteristics of future services may differ from services deployed early on in a city's smart city roadmap. For example, they may require additional privacy and security protection or have higher quality-of-service (QoS) requirements.

To maximise return on investment, harmonise data
Cities in the Middle East may need to consider how to maximise the value of data that smart city services create. Harmonising data across the value chain is an important step to making data accessible to all market participants-whether that is a government entity, a service developer, or a local business. It is important to use standard formats to support data harmonisation, and to allow that information to flow freely across networks, platforms, services and projects.