Safder Nazir, regional vice president of Smart Cities and Internet of Things at Huawei Middle East talks about the future of Smart Cities in the region and how to achieve a sustainable model.
The world is undergoing a wave of mass urbanisation, bringing with it inevitable challenges that cities must look to resolve. The ICT industry is also at the cusp of great technological and business advancements inspired by an increased mandate for Smart City initiatives across the Middle East.
While the cities of today are at various stages of development, many are already heavily reliant on both fixed and wireless ICT networks. The cities of tomorrow, however, will be shaped by ubiquitous mobile broadband coverage that enables the seamless interconnection of systems, multi-agency sharing of all relevant city data, and consistently high-quality service delivery to end users.
The evolution of mobile networks must, therefore, be a key consideration for a Smart City network design. But what does this mean for existing city infrastructure, and what considerations do operators and city owners need to keep in mind when powering sustainable cities of the future?
The Building Blocks of Smart Cities and the Role of Mobile Broadband
In Huawei’s latest white paper, written in collaboration with IDC, research reveals that the current availability of 3G and the increasing deployment of 4G LTE create a sound foundation for enabling Smart Cities. Mobile technologies have matured rapidly in the last few years, and consumer acceptance has moved beyond tech-savvy early adopters.
As consumers realise the benefits of ubiquitous, fast and reliable mobile connectivity, cities will increasingly rely on mobile broadband as a key enabler of Smart City services in many areas; from government to transportation, utilities, healthcare, and education. While high-performance fixed networks form a foundation, mobile broadband holds promise for cities of the future to meet the growing need for omnipresent connectivity, high performance, resilience, and reliability while keeping latency low.
Telecommunication operators are uniquely positioned to offer a full array of mobile broadband-based Smart City solutions. More than that, our research with IDC reveals a number of recommended steps for city planners and operators when rolling out a successful Smart City broadband strategy:
Formulate a clear vision for the city
• Start by formulating a clear vision for the city in terms of citizen-centric services and sustainable urban development built on strong network infrastructure foundation. This long-term vision must encompass an understanding of the possibilities of the next decade and must thus incorporate flexible, future-proof infrastructure backbones.
Deliver a reliable user experience
• Consider the technological levers that enable a reliable user experience. This includes seamlessly integrated fixed and mobile networks with open-access features that are self optimising and can be scaled as needed.
Ensure planning is comprehensive
• As each city is different and thus possesses unique needs and priorities, leaders should place strong emphasis on gathering knowledge about the public sector and how mobile broadband best addresses requirements for service quality on both the citywide and single building levels.
Consider truly holistic solutions
• Work with vendors that can bring together the technological capabilities needed to provide a holistic solution. Most city owners prefer to deal directly with a single partner for ease of management, meaning operators must ensure all of the necessary skill sets are available to fulfil city owners’ requirements.
Provide tailor-made services
• Operators in particular should approach city owners with tailor-made offerings that provide a mix of technologies and solutions — including IoT/M2M, mobility, cloud, and big data analytics — that offer vertical- and horizontal-specific features.
An important part of this historical process is creating initiatives that build a better connected world. In the Middle East, this will require delivering on pillars such as ubiquitous broadband, agile innovation, and creating inspired experiences. As the public and private sector continue to invest in Smart City projects, ubiquitous mobile broadband infrastructure will be a key enabler—one that is able to address both a city’s current needs and its future requirements.