How IoT is unlocking cash
The time is not too far when residents in Dubai will be experiencing the lifestyle we see in sci-fi films.
Dubai - IoT has the potential to contributeDh165 billion to the UAE economy by 2025
By Waheed Abbas
Published: Sat 12 Aug 2017, 7:42 PM
Last updated: Sun 13 Aug 2017, 10:30 PM
Imagine a world without human intervention.
Your home appliances will be synchronised and connected with your voice for activation. Your car self-drives you to the comfort of your home, and the moment you enter home, your car signals all sensors to activate, hence, your wardrobe pulls out your casual dress to relax after office-hours and microwave warms up food for you. Smart healthcare devices that monitor one's health and trigger timely alerts for medical attention. The list is endless.
Going by what we have been experiencing in terms of adoption of new technology in Dubai, the time is not too far when residents here will be experiencing the lifestyle we see in sci-fi films - thanks to fast adoption and quick implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT) we might see in the near future because industry estimates show that IoT will contribute billions of dirhams to the country's economy in the next few years.
Adel Belcaid, principal for the Middle East at AT Kearney, said IoT has the potential to contribute $45 billion (Dh165 billion) to the UAE economy by 2025 with nearly 60 per cent of contribution coming from transportation and logistics, public administration, healthcare, housing and construction, retail and wholesale and utilities. He believes that connected objects will help people spend less on their day-to-day lives; as such, GCC residents' purchasing power will increase by $35 billion, while enabling them to spend on other objects that can improve their quality of life.
For example, IoT-enabled air-conditioning systems could automatically reduce cooling power when residents are not at home, lowering people's electricity bills.
In addition, connected objects will reduce the time required for daily activities with potential time-saving value of $47 billion for both consumers and companies, such as commuting and machinery downtime. Combined with productivity gains, this will create more free time, a share of which will be spent on more productive tasks that can deliver personal and economic value.
Denis Batalov, solutions architect for Russia, the Middle East and Africa at Amazon Web Services, says one area where the GCC will look different in the future is in its cities, as municipalities and governments use IoT technologies to make cities smart.
"Building a smart city entails deploying numerous connected sensors and probes throughout a city to gather information and that information is analysed in the cloud to make cities better places to live. This can range from deploying air sensors to measure carbon dioxide levels to tracking traffic levels in order to make travelling a pleasurable experience. One area where we are already seeing cities become smart is through smart city lighting," he noted.
Belcaid believes that it's "too early to tell exactly how Dubai fares since IoT is still nascent. But several initiatives, notably by the local government, point to strong interest in IoT as a core enabler of the fourth industrial revolution that Dubai is very much intending to take advantage of".
"It is still too early to say how the governments and residents will embrace IoT compared to other regions given how nascent this technology is in the region. However, UAE infrastructure for digital services is ahead of regional peers as evidenced by the growth of smart government services and other private sector initiatives in transport, last-mile delivery, etc. It is thus fairly likely that the UAE will be the pioneer of IoT in the region and its citizens will lead the region in adoption," Belcaid said.
Since the industry is trading at a nascent stage, there are a few challenges that it could face.
The main challenge would be in supply-side delays, if the private sector, particularly connectivity providers and service developers, is slow to push the IoT agenda due to lack of capital and/or government incentives. Government support, access to capital and industry partnerships are key to catalyse the development of IoT offerings in the UAE and the wider region, Belcaid explained.
In terms of regional, IoT is expected to contribute $72 billion to Saudi Arabia, $45 billion to the UAE, $12 billion to Kuwait, $9 billion to Oman and $5 billion to Bahrain.
Cisco recently predicted that globally 6.3 billion machine-to-machine devices would be connected at homes by 2021 from just 2.7 billion last year. While several billions more will be scattered throughout offices, hospitals, factories and stores. Among the top countries, the US, Canada, Sweden, UK, Germany, Japan, Korea and Singapore are expected to lead IoT adoption globally.