Juniper Networks, an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, has announced at GITEX Technology Week 2018, new market research that it conducted with YouGov which suggests that consumers place capabilities like interoperability over technological advances like 5G, cloud, IoT and automation when it comes to which key factors will support the enabling of ‘smart communities’. The market research is in line with this year’s GITEX theme of driving ‘future urbanism’ and highlights how communities are using Information Technology to act as a catalyst for transforming life and work across a wide variety of environments and use cases. Spanning rural villages all the way to the newest mega cities, these use cases include innovations in automated infrastructure management, environmental monitoring, autonomous vehicles, social change and population information and protection.
The online survey of over 2,000 adults living in the UAE also reveals that service providers and local authorities are the lynchpin to enabling, securing and educating smart communities. Furthermore, the research highlights that there are high expectations for the potential benefits that smart communities can deliver, but also shows that there is still a need for education on how specific communities can benefit from individual projects.
Smart community implementations can deliver a wide range of benefits, but different opportunities exist for different groups. The location, environment and types of available technology will all impact the nature of a given initiative, as highlighted by the variation in responses about what potential benefits smart communities offer and what environments are expected to benefit most. This can lead to confusion when talking about smart communities and reinforces the need for clear education on the benefits to the community, as well as reassurance about privacy and security concerns.
- In the UAE, more than half (54%) cited interoperability as a key factor to support the success of any smart community initiative. Furthermore, more than a third (39%) cited sensors and connected devices i.e. IoT as a vital enabler of success. These were ranked as higher importance than Internet-based infrastructure i.e. cloud (38%), next-generation mobile connectivity (36%) automation through Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (31%) and cybersecurity (30%)
- Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed said that the local authority or government should be primarily responsible for the security of all devices, services and data within a smart community. More than a quarter (26%) said this responsibility should lie with network operators and service providers. Together, this represents more than half of the respondents and highlights the need for a joint approach to ensure the successful acceptance of any smart community project
- Better access to public services and information was the primary benefit, cited by more than half (58%) of respondents, followed by increased public safety and improved emergency services (50%), environmental improvements (48%) and services that enhance lifestyle (44%). Four percent said they did not know what benefits a smart community project could bring, reflecting the need for education
- When asked how they would expect the connectivity across smart community services to be achieved, over four out of 10 (42%) said that it should be ‘a collection of network service providers relying on common standards’. However, a quarter (25%) said it should be a single network that is owned and operated by the local authority/government and 12% cited that it should be a single provider commissioned by the local government
- When it comes to the potential challenges of implementing a smart community project, data privacy (46%), cost of implementing and running extensive systems (40%) and data and infrastructure security (39%) were highlighted as the top three concerns
Yarob Sakhnini, Head of Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Juniper Networks, commented: “Smart community projects and initiatives have the potential to leverage cutting-edge technologies such as IoT, 5G, multicloud and Machine Learning to enhance and even transform, people’s daily lives, particularly for those in rural and developing areas. This research shows that consumers recognise this, but want common standards and security to be at their heart. Similarly, the wide scope and variation within any given smart community initiative reinforces the need to inform and reassure constituents about specific benefits and how challenges are addressed. We see there is a great opportunity for service providers in the UAE to become a fundamental part of a community’s fabric, supported by local authorities and government. Implementing, evolving and sustaining these smart community projects are often complex undertakings and Juniper Networks is committed to simplifying that complexity with service providers by delivering a simplified, secure and automated infrastructure.”
Juniper Networks is currently participating at GITEX Technology Week 2018 where it is showcasing to enterprise customers how simplicity in engineering can reduce operational complexity, secure network infrastructure and innovate services in the organisation’s automated multicloud journey.