Connected, smart cities will be a vital part of the UAE’s reinvention.
The internet of things (IoT) has been spoken about widely in recent months. It’s a conversation that is being led by technology companies who see its potential, but for people, businesses and governments across the Middle East and the world, it’s important that we demonstrate the disruptive capabilities and advantages it offers.
What we know is that IoT is taking us to a more efficient, more intelligent, happier place – featuring streamlined services and greater control of one’s own time through networked objects (or things).
Recalibrating the notion of dialogue, IoT will allow people to enjoy an exchange with physical things. Imagine the time you’d save if city centre parking spaces could communicate with you in advance of your arrival. Or think of the money you’d save if your washing machine or air-conditioning could respond when energy costs were low.
To take the idea further, IoT is about integrating our hand-held devices with the tasks, services and possessions that directly and indirectly affect our existence.
And like all great innovations, necessity is its driving force. Global population expansion and urbanisation trends are driving solutions that ensure that our cities remain hubs for enterprise and sustainability.
Powered by IoT, the smart city will feature intelligent buildings, roads and public transport systems that are connected to each other and people through sensors. This real-time information exchange will save people time, lessen environmental impact and create value for businesses.
The headquarters of the Abu Dhabi Investment Council features an intelligent outer casing that senses sunlight and responds by blocking direct light. This is a great example of how a smart building can reduce energy consumption.
Another great example is Monaco. The densely populated principality known as much for traffic and congestion as glamour and celebrity, is exploring the full potential of IoT.
Called Monaco 3.0, the pilot project aims to demonstrate – and fully realise – the competitive advantage of a smart city, delivering commercial benefits to businesses and social benefits to citizens. It hopes to offer a blueprint for smart cities and elevate the principality as a model for future urbanisation.
Similarly, Dubai has a great opportunity to demonstrate leadership in this field.
As the UAE continues its journey of reinvention beyond oil to a future defined by knowledge, technology and innovation, its agility and enterprise may prove to be one of the most compelling economic success stories of our time.
The recent Government Summit was further evidence of this transition in action.
Time and again, the leadership of the UAE has emphasised its commitment to investing in human capital – a strategy designed to deliver long-term opportunity, prosperity and security.
IoT is the framework upon which the pledge to introduce smart services, smart cities and a sustainable future can be built.
“In 50 years, when we might have the last barrel of oil, the question is: when it is shipped abroad, will we be sad?” asked Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, during his keynote address at the summit. His response was that if the UAE continues to make smart investments in strategic sectors, that moment will be one of celebration rather than sadness.
Technology investment, network availability and clear vision are key ingredients to the IoT ecosystem that technology experts envision.
And, in what is the UAE’s year of innovation, I am confident the country will continue to make the strides required to realise its smart ambitions.
Volker Bischoff is the general manager and vice president for Robert Bosch in the Middle East.
Volker Bischoff March 23, 2015.