Dubai will emerge stronger among the global smart city ranking following introduction of new features in a smart city project in the emirate, says an industry expert.
Issac Sutton, CEO of Valo Smart City, said Dubai is already at the forefront of the smart city concept globally and it will soon be able to enjoy economic benefits of a smart city concept to be rolled out shortly.
Referring to the IMD Smart City 2019 Index, he said Dubai ranked 45th out of 102 global cities while Abu Dhabi secured the 56th position. Other cities from the region included Riyadh at 71, Cairo at 99 position and Rabat at 101.
“As for the region, Dubai and Abu Dhabi lead the way all across the Mena region as per global rankings of smart cities, surpassing renowned urban capitals like Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo,” Sutton told Khaleej Times.
“Dubai is one of the most progressive cities in the world. It is already a smart city to a great extent. Once the city’s infrastructure is layered with cross integrated enhanced tech, Dubai will surely be at the forefront of the smart city concept globally, which in turn will further impact the emirate’s economy positively,” he said.
In reply to a question, he said his platform has chalked out a strategy to put Dubai as a leading smart city in the world.
“We definitely have great plans as far as Dubai and the region is concerned and have therefore established our regional presence out of Dubai. We are in talks with some key entities in the region and will be announcing major smart developments shortly,” he said.
Smart city investment
Sutton said technology spending on smart city initiatives worldwide is expected to increase from $81 billion in 2018 to $189.5 billion by 2023.
Referring to a KPMG report, he said the Mena Smart City sector is expected to double from $1.3 billion in 2018 to $2.7 billion by 2022.
“With a surge in urban populations and environmental concerns, smart cities are no longer optional. Large number of people now need to work with limited resources and any and all inefficiencies, excess or wastage need to be curbed and eliminated,” he said.
He said smart cities help optimise processes like public transport and traffic through smart mobility, resulting in energy conservation, reduced CO2 emissions and reduced commute times for commuters.
“Such smart frameworks also include revenue generation opportunities and potential and if designed right have the potential of making municipalities self-sustained,” he said.
He said smart cities are a growing concept with new technological and logical advancements making them more effective.
“So, expansion for any smart city integrator is a byproduct of what we do. The UAE in general and Dubai in particular, and the entire Middle East region are of great importance to our corporate roadmap and we foresee partnerships with major cities across the region over the next eight years,” he said.
“Our interest is owed to the region’s sizeable young population economic growth trajectory and the certainty of our plans is owed to our business proposition and partnership model where our partners bring the city…and we bring the smart!” he said.
Valo smart city initiative
While talking about Valo smart city initiative, he said it is a holistic smart city integrator. “We transform a city's utilities, infrastructure, and other municipal assets into a connected digital platform to integrate and deploy Smart City services,” he said.
“We engage in long-term public-private partnerships (PPP) with municipalities to develop, operate, and maintain city assets. The result enables cross-departmental integration that forms the basis of a holistic smart city,” he added.
Elaborating, he said Valo's own smart city platform has endless possibilities. It can integrate assets such as bus shelters, digital displays, benches, bicycle docking stations, EV charging, rubbish bins, street lighting, and much more.
“The assets combined with electrical and Internet connectivity create a unique foundational platform. This platform allows cities to collect and cross-reference data, such as traffic flow and air quality, deploy city-wide Wi-Fi, provide real-time information and alerts and generate revenues through advertising and commercial partnerships, making the city in question a truly smart city,” he said.
“All this comes at a very low and in some cases no cost to the city as Valo provides the technology, operations, and even funding for the project through a 15 to 20-year concession with the city to recover the investment,” he added.
He said Valo’s major operations have been across North America predominantly with some projects in the UK.
“We have implemented smart lighting and projects in the USA and have recently implemented a smart mobility project in Croyden (UK) that will connect the city’s public transport network for energy and human efficiency,” he said.
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