Connecting government growth

du is working closely with public sector partners to enable smart government plans
Marwan Thani, Vice President, Government Sales, du
Marwan Thani, Vice President, Government Sales, du


Building a connected society requires close collaboration between the public sector and its strategic partners in the telecoms sector. In the UAE, du is supporting and participating in a number of key government initiatives to improve technology capabilities of public sector organisations, and supporting them with a range of next generation services.

The telco is also testing and deploying new network capabilities which will provide vital connectivity for smart initiatives and to secure national ICT infrastructure. Marwan Thani, Vice President, Government Sales, du, explains some of the key projects and future plans for the operator.

What is du’s involvement with FEDnet?

In 2014, du was chosen as an operator partner of the TRA’s UAE Federal Government Network (FEDnet) programme that provides a common infrastructure creating a convenient and on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources for all federal government entities. The programme connects all Federal government related entities with each other as well as providing seamless, safe, durable and ongoing connectivity between entities using a common infrastructure. du’s dedicated FedNET Service encompasses a cloud command and security operations centre.

Our ongoing partnership with the TRA’s FEDnet is a testament to the crucial role of the ICT industry in creating the fabric of, and sustaining, Smart Cities.

What cloud services are you offering to government? How are you addressing security and privacy concerns around cloud?

Having successfully implemented its FedNET platform, du now provides a common infrastructure for seamless, safe, durable and ongoing connectivity between Government entities. Our Cloud Command Center provides all private cloud associated services within the logical environment. In addition, du’s Security Operations Centre has operated effectively since its implementation, without being penetrated and has worked successfully with aeCert to ensure the longevity of this Government initiative.

This year we are also bringing together eminent national, regional and international personalities and businesses to address cyber security threats in emerging markets at the du Cyber Security Conference. The primary aim of the event is to support the UAE government in its transformation to a smart government by highlighting information security challenges in smart cities and mobile government, and showing the role of information security in enabling national initiatives.

What other enterprise services do you have for government clients?

We are providing all our enterprise services to our government clients as and when the need arises. At du, we recognise the fact that each customer has unique needs when it comes to their ICT requirements, regardless of whether they are government or enterprise customers. For this reason we customise our offerings to suit their needs.

Our enterprise mobility management solutions, for example, can be tailored to meet a variety of needs including mobile device management, application and content management, email security and BYOD. Leveraging this comprehensive service ensures that customers benefit from fast deployment and configuration, 24x7 monitoring, software scalability, as well as expert support and training.

Our government clients are particularly concerned with security, and our award-winning services offer government clients peace of mind when it comes to their security needs.

What is du doing in the smart cities area?

We are living in a world where, very soon, everything that can be connected will be. This connectivity will be the backbone of our smart city. We have been working tirelessly with the UAE government to ensure that all ‘things’ including utilities will be IoT ready. Our smart building solutions, for example, integrate building systems into a single operating platform providing an optimal way to manage energy consumption. Our Smart Parking and Smart Lighting solutions also use IoT technologies. Smart Parking offers real time information of the available accessible spots, reducing traffic congestion and improving parking ticketing control through a single solution. Smart Lighting transforms streetlights into intelligent, energy-efficient, remotely monitored managed networks, minimising CO2 emissions and energy consumption.

How are du’s trials of IoT network technology proceeding?

We started trials and testing for IoT technologies last year in anticipation of realising our Smart City vision, as well as the expected 5G rollout in the coming years. Mid-2015 we showcased the Middle East region’s first Long Range (LoRa) Internet of Things (IoT) Proof of Concept. We highlighted the possibilities of transmitting data over several kilometres using lower power than that required by cellular networks. Typical applications of this technology includes sensors to monitor and control sensors and devices in smart solutions such as street lighting.

This year, in yet another regional first, we successfully demonstrated the capability of state-of-the-art Light Fidelity (Li-Fi) technology in Dubai — the latest technology in data communication. Li-Fi is a wireless optical networking technology that is 100 times faster than Wi-Fi technology as well as being significantly cheaper. In addition, Li-Fi complements Wi-Fi technology, by minimising the risk of loss of data in a high density area in a confined region. The integration of Li-Fi enables us to provide solutions for our business customer across municipal, commercial and industrial environments. To date, we have demonstrated three use cases over Li-Fi technology including internet over Li-Fi, video and audio streaming over Li-Fi.

Most recently, we announced the establishment of UAE 5G Innovation Gate (U5GIG) as a consortium of technical and academic organisations in UAE as well as global telecom vendors to plan and use their expertise to define and develop a global 5G network that will radically change lives across the UAE. Here we will test and validate early 5G and Internet of Things ( IoT) equipment and services. U5GIG will also allow universities and technical organisations across UAE to work together and participate in the development of the 5G ecosystem, and for academia and industry to test applications and technologies in a real-world setting.

What other plans do you have with the government sector?

We always strive to anticipate our customers’ needs, so that we can proactively offer them services that add life to life. We will continue to monitor the changing requirements of the government sector, paying particular attention to their increasingly evolving ICT needs.

As proud strategic partners of the UAE government for the Smart Dubai Platform, we are staunchly committed to making a positive contribution to the UAE Leadership’s vision of a smart city by being at the forefront of the digital evolution and always delivering enhanced technologies. We work hand-in-hand with the UAE government to ensure that our service offerings always meet their requirements.

How is your commercial relationship developing with government, in relation to increased calls for Public Private Partnerships (PPP)?

While the PPP model is typically associated with physical infrastructure (e.g. Dubai Metro), we’re now seeing this model adopted in some of the more advanced Smart City projects across the globe in places like Kansas, and Valencia.

With our network experience and digital know-how, telcos in particular can be a vital resource for governments looking to establish the infrastructure required to make a city smarter. For a telco this means creating a platform to enhance the quality and performance of urban services, reducing costs and resource consumption.

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