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Innovation and co-creation driving intelligence in Middle East Smart Cities

Innovation and co-creation driving intelligence in Middle East Smart Cities

Digital TransformationTop StoriesUAE

Advait Thakur, IoT and Analytics Solution Expert for Business Solutions & Innovation Orange Business Services – Indirect, Middle East, Africa & Russia, talks about how co-innovation programmes are playing a leading role in meeting the demands of Smart Cities in the MEA region.

According to International Data Corporation, spending on Internet of Things (IoT) technologies in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region will accelerate and reach $17.63 billion by 2023 as governments and businesses increase their investments in Digital Transformation projects and further development of innovative industry-specific solutions.

Co-innovation programmes are playing a leading role in meeting the demands of Smart Cities in the region and supporting enterprise Digital Transformation by applying the essential ‘intelligence’ required through new IoT Apps and solutions.

Abu Dhabi – the capital of the UAE – is at the heart of the action and was the first Arab city to host the world’s most important conference on cities and human settlements, the World Urban Forum, which was the perfect platform to showcase a local example of Smart City co-innovation.

Smart City developers face the growing challenge of rapid urbanisation driven by rising global population – an additional 2.5 billion people and an urbanisation rate of 70%, by 2050. And the inevitable increase in global energy demand, which is predicted to rise by 35% between 2008 and 2035. Today, our cities already account for around 80% of greenhouse gases, and water shortages are affecting around one third of people worldwide.

Abu Dhabi Municipality (ADM) has a five-year plan to achieve sustainability with a range of projects and initiatives, from public parks to public infrastructure to enhance the living experiences in one of the world’s developing smartest cities. ADM is also promoting effective collaborations that deliver innovations through strategic partnerships with leading private sector companies, such as Orange Business Services.

Our co-innovation programme with ADM has developed a bespoke, cutting-edge Smart Cities visualisation app that will enhance the city management services delivered in Abu Dhabi.

‘IoT Cockpit’ has a role to play in the management of Smart Cities, smart districts and buildings; it also has wider potential in associated areas such as mobility and public transport planning, and industries that are transforming rapidly, generating large volumes of data and need a high degree of digital intelligence.

IoT Cockpit provides this visualisation through an immersive, interactive user interface for the city authorities monitoring elements of the urban landscape. With the city management solution, connected objects and tangible objects are virtualised, enabling ADM to see, interact with and manage the smart utilities network across the city, including water, electricity, and fibre, as well as visualising the situation on the ground, at key points. The municipality can see whether street lighting is working correctly or whether public transport is operating normally, enhancing control over vital elements of the city.

‘IoT Cockpit’ is an example of a bespoke city management solution developed in the region and for the region, with the UAE providing a test bed for Smart City innovations that are transferable to other sectors and other regions.  

The Smart City is a complex ecosystem with an array of vertical activities, all co-ordinated by the Smart City integrated operations and security centre, providing safe city and digital living services and experiences. The key to success is embedding intelligence, integrating sophisticated technologies including IoT and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make sense out of the massive amount of data generated across the Smart City.

While IoT Cockpit visualises the entire Smart City estate, it can also focus on the more specific Smart City services, such as public transport and mobility. For example, a French transport customer has adopted IoT Cockpit as the platform for its solution developed to visualise a transport map as a basis for new route planning, through a co-creation process with Orange Business Services.

It’s not just Smart Cities that are befitting from enhanced intelligence and other sectors can benefit from innovative industry-specific solutions, with a co-creation approach.

Technologies such as IoT and AI are combining to dramatic effect in bringing a new level of intelligence to some of the most complex industrial environments, including airports and maritime ports.

Next generation ‘smart ports’ are becoming a reality. Once again, Abu Dhabi is taking the lead and Abu Dhabi Ports’ inaugural Innovation Month highlighted the impact of technology on smart ports – safety, security, data analytics – and introduced ‘IoT Cockpit’. Ports face their own distinctive challenges with the complexity of their ecosystems – port authorities, customs, carriers, importers and exporters – and sea ports around the world are perfect candidates to benefit from IoT solutions, cloud computing and network connectivity, through a co-creation approach to address the industry’s specific needs.

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