Ushering in a new smart living era

Silicon Park / Image Credit: Gulf News ArchivesSilicon Park / Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Asmart city is a complex entity where complexity isn’t felt by its inhabitants. Smart technology reduces complexity and creates seamless functionality. In the UAE, particularly Dubai, the most sought-after and suitable smart city technologies are traffic, energy, water-saving and health-care solutions, as well as education and government services.

“Dubai is already much smarter than other cities,” says Amr Salem, Managing Director for Smart Cities and Internet of Things at Cisco Systems. “Dubai has invested in infrastructure many years ago and continues to [increase] its investment to develop better services for its citizens as well as for tourists. And I believe that the next journey for Dubai will be to bring smart city initiatives around the world to a level that will raise the bar on how a city can become carbon-neutral, how it can provide the best environment for citizens, how its economy becomes completely sustainable and how smart business models can be funded.”

For many residents, smart power and water meters and air-conditioning systems will be standard very soon. Other solutions that raise the intelligence of a home will follow suit, such as controllers and apps that have practical and functional use, enhance lifestyle and entertainment, as well as safety and security. This includes home automation systems, remote and lighting controls, home audio/video systems, surveillance and security devices and many other features.

Globally, the entire smart cities market is forecast to grow from $411 billion (Dh1.5 trillion) last year to $1.13 trillion by 2019 at an annual growth rate of 22.5 per cent, according to a Market-sand Markets study in December 2014. The report suggests that the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific are expected to be the highest revenue-generating regional market segments with the highest market size.

“Cities are seeking partners and suppliers to collaborate on ambitious programmes for sustainability, innovation in public services, and economic development that depend on significant technology investments,” says Eric Woods, Research Director at Navigant Research.

The UAE, along with a few other countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, is in the forefront in the region in adopting various technologies required for smart cities.

“Some departments such as the Roads and Transport Authority, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and Dubai Municipality have been actively involved in various projects,” says Biswajeet Mahapatra, Research Director at Gartner UAE. “The future looks very promising and we will see more benefits in areas of traffic management, crime control, health care, waste disposal, energy management and carbon emission.”

There are already some examples of smart city technologies that benefit homeowners. “One such solution is intelligent garbage bins,” says Mahapatra. “They automatically identify the garbage type and also notify the municipality for pickup when they are almost full, thereby optimising the number of trips of the garbage trucks and planning for the disposal methods.”

Other solutions for homeowners are electric charging points for cars in the community and all over the city, which would help increase adoption of electric cars and reduce carbon emission, says Mahapatra.

IBM is working with a Middle Eastern company to integrate latest analytics algorithms into its automated meter system software, which will help utilities reduce water losses, cut costs and better understand consumption. The aim is to develop a product that will help utilities and water companies use big data and advanced analytics technology to better manage drinking water. In this regard, Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) is one of the most advanced smart city projects in Dubai.

“Some of the projects include enabling solar energy-powered electricity in the area and implementing smart meters,” says Muammar Khaled Al Katheeri, Executive Vice President – Engineering Management, DSO, adding that 46 per cent of the development will have smart districts built from scratch such as Silicon Park, which will incorporate the latest global trends for smart cities.”

Silicon Park will feature charging docks for smart devices on the street, pop-up furniture and digital play tables. It will be completely devoid of traditional petrol vehicles. Instead, electricity-powered vehicles will serve as the primary mode of transport. The project will also include rechargeable electric bikes as an alternative means of conveyance.

“Silicon Park will include a control centre that collects and analyses data gathered through sensor-linked devices available on-site,” says Al Katheeri.

Another notable smart city pilot project is Dubai Design District (D3), developed in cooperation with Cisco. D3 is a community created to foster the emirate’s fashion, design and luxury sectors, and at the same time is one of the pilot projects of Dubai’s smart city strategy.

“D3 adheres to the basic elements of the UAE smart city strategy and also encompasses smart transportation and efficient energy and waste management, including smart metering, centralised district cooling, advanced lighting controls, intelligent car parking, efficient energy management systems, incentivised recycling programmes and real-time personalised dashboards,” says Mahapatra.

Rabih Dabboussi, General Manager of Cisco in the UAE, believes projects such as D3 are ushering in a new era. “Dubai is undergoing monumental change being further enabled by ground-breaking projects like the D3,” he says. “The era of inert buildings, unresponsive citizen services and lack of logistical transparency is over, and Dubai has everything in place to become an exemplary smart city pioneer, not only throughout the region but also on a global scale.”


Source: Arno Maierbrugger, Special to Property Weekly


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