Sustainability, Sensus, and the value of teaming up for the greater good

Can telcos help save the planet? Yes - at least when they team up for projects such as smart water metering, says Sensus' Ian Sykes.
Sensus, Water, Smart, Services, Tech, Innovation, Technology, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, STC, Business, Society, Future, Sustainability, Connectivity, 5G


Smart meters can be useful in areas where water is especially precious, such as the Middle East.

Think about “smart” things for a moment. Smart cities. Smart homes. Smart cars. Smart transit. Smart lighting. Smart phones. Smart tuna sandwiches (OK, maybe not that last one). The point is, a lot of the stuff we interact with today could be considered “smart.”

But what makes “smart” things, well, smart? Something needs to power them, of course.

That’s where Sensus comes in. In short, the North Carolina (United States)-based company – which has offices around the world, including in the Middle East – offers solutions for connectivity, network communication, and more. Oh, and smart grids and smart metering – which GCC strategic sales lead Ian Sykes says is a growing field as the technology develops and markets mature.

“Smart metering is maturing quite well,” he says.

“It’s in a good spot, but there’s still some distance to go. A lot of the focus at the moment has been on the consumer side.”

In markets such as the Middle East, smart metering – which monitors pipes and other utilities systems, sending a constant stream of data that can be evaluated by humans or artificial intelligence programmes – can be a “game changer,” Sykes says, because it can help reduce water leakage – since, of course, water in the region is especially precious.

Exciting as the technology and ambitions may sound, the question of relevancy to telcos might come up. But Sykes says telcos are actually the ideal partner for a company like Sensus, because telcos already have extensive national and international networks that Sensus can harness.

In fact, Sykes says, Sensus recently inked a deal with STC for smart metering for utilities and other services in Saudi Arabia. The first tests will be conducted in the capital of Riyadh. Eventually, Sykes says, the hope is to roll it out across the entire kingdom. “That’s the aspiration.”

But could Saudi Arabia’s extreme desert environment, coupled with its vast size, pose a problem? Sykes claims the geography of the kingdom is no barrier at all. “We’re used to operating in diverse environments,” he says, highlighting projects in areas with challenging geography such as the Scottish Highlands and the hot, dry (and normally very rocky, with wildly varying elevation) deserts of the US state of Arizona.

As Sykes describes it, the Middle East has a bright future with smart meters that is “robust and reliable” – and reiterates the role telcos can play to assist in that. “You need [the network] to be robust and reliable to realise the potential.”

So what might the region look like in five years? Could smart meters – and extensive networks of them at that – be a thing throughout the entire Middle East and in Africa? Sykes says it’s a distinct possibility. “We’d like to see some significant growth in the GCC,” he says.

“It’s a really important market for us.”

And let’s be honest: we can all do our part to save water.

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