Smart cities key to sustainability, not technology
by Paromita Dey
Connecting everyday items like bridges, traffic signals, and oil and gas equipment to the "internet of things" can be a key to achieving sustainability in the region, according to experts.
Alaa Dalghan, one of the experts on smart cities in the GCC and a key speaker at this year’s The Big 5, has said that the idea behind smart cities is not about technology.
“Smart cities are never about technology,” he said. “The essence of smart cities is two-fold. It is about using resources more efficiently and being environmentally-friendly, and most importantly, it is about creating services that enhance lifestyles.”
The Internet of Things is essentially when places such as manufacturing floors, energy grids, healthcare facilities, and transportation networks are connected to the web and, having started out as a marketing buzz word Alaa said it is has since developed into a concrete initiative capable of solving complex everyday challenges.
“The Internet of Things extends across many verticals in the technology industry and is shaping up to be the key enabler of smart cities,” he added.
“The biggest challenge in this regard, is efficiency. GCC nations are often listed among the top nations in terms of emissions, waste, and other environmental impacts. These are real problems that can be addressed, can be reduced, and can be fixed, dare I say it, by smart cities driven by the Internet of Things,” Dalghan mentioned.
Drawing on an example in Ireland, where traffic signals connected to the Internet were used to replace timing systems and cut commutes by up to 30%, he said Dubai is also playing its part in shaping understanding towards smart cities.