Dynamic digital and internet connected devices, alongwith a strong integration between sub-systems, will be the key drivers for Smart Cities of the future.
The Smart Cities industry is projected to be worth over $400 billion by 2020, with rapid urbanisation driving cities to become intelligent and smarter.
Technology experts at a media roundtable on smart cities and smart governance organised by Smartworld, a Dubai-based leader in digital ICT, said while this implies better living for the rapidly-growing urban population, it also brings forth the need for the cities to be equipped to meet the challenges related to digital security and capacity building.
Ahmed Qurram Baig, Senior Director, Strategy, Risk and Excellence, Smartworld, said: “It is estimated that more than 70 per cent of world population will be living in cities by 2030. This presents immense challenges in terms of effectively utilising infrastructure, resources and calls for better sustainability. We will witness inter-connectedness of infrastructure and require right investments toward smart management of resources, mobility and assisted living.”
In March this year, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched a strategy to transform Dubai into a ‘Smart City’. Under the strategy, more than 1,000 government services will go smart in the next three years.
Dr. Saeed Khalfan Al Dhaheri, Advisor, Information Systems, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “Smart cities will have intelligent exchange of information between various sub-systems, thereby translating into services for the benefit of people- ranging from public health, transport to utilities and other services.”
He added: “People are the key element of smart cities and as we build capacities to enhance quality of life using technology, it will be equally important to communicate with people, maintain strong integration between various sub-systems in the government and private sector. To gain the most out of smart cities initiative one need to ensure communication, cooperation and integration among sub-systems and implement the initiatives in partnership between government and private sector.”
Potential security and privacy threats must also be addressed by cities as they make smart use of technology to enhance quality of life.
Baig said: “By 2020, it is estimated that more than 50 billion intelligent devices will be connected to the Internet. This proliferation will not only change the way technology is used and bring a cultural shift in business innovations, it will also necessitate that we are well prepared to effectively deal with potential security threats.”
Daniele Di Fausto, CEO of eFM, an international engineering company, highlighted the need to shift from the conventional design, implement and build model.
He remarked: “We cannot build a smart city and wait to test how systems and sub-systems work. We will need to create small pilots and run simulation of services right away. A smart city starts much before it actually takes off and it does not end once it comes into place, it has the ability to change of a day to day basis.”
“Smart City is not only a matter of Apps and big data - Sustain engaging life & places - is the correct and comprehensive approach, in order to achieve a tangible lifestyle improvement we must integrate people&things&places.
Di Fausto said Public Private Partnership projects (PPP) are a winning model for developing Smart City because all the main stakeholders are not only involved but even committed in a common and sustainable path across the entire Smart lifecycle.
He concluded saying Dubai has the potential to become the best Smart City in the world within the next six to seven years if it follows this approach.