The Internet Of Things: How Will It Affect People In The UAE?

Dubai’s smart city plan promises exciting times ahead, writes Jyoti Lalchandani, group VP and regional MD for the Middle East, Turkey & Africa at IDC.

The Internet of Things (IoT) represents a new construct in an ICT world. Within IDC’s view of the 3rd Platform, the IoT is at the heart of it. It is more and more clear that the future of IT will be driven by four pillars — mobile broadband, social business, big data/analytics, and cloud services.

This will result in millions of applications available with billions of users. The pinnacle of this next technology platform is that we will move in the direction of a future where there are “trillions of things” that could be connected to the internet and thus drive consumer behaviour and increasingly intelligent industry solutions that can operate either autonomously or non-autonomously. IoT will be critical to the success of the 3rd Platform as these connected “things” will shape business processes and the increasingly connected consumer.

It is this new plan that is occupying the collective mind of consumers, IT vendors and partners, and service providers, as it represents enormous potential for new streams of revenue and new customers. IDC defines IoT as a network connecting (either wired or wireless) devices, or “things,” that is characterised by autonomous provisioning, management, and monitoring.

It is estimated that the installed base of IoT will be approximately 212 billion in 2020. This will include 30 billion “connected (autonomous) things” in 2020, and is largely driven by intelligent systems that will be installed and collecting data — across both consumer and enterprise applications. The IoT opens up many IT vendors to the consumer market, providing B2B2C services to connect and run homes and automobiles — all the places that electronic devices will have a networking capability.

The momentum of the IoT is driven by several factors. It is without a doubt that business and consumer demand exists and will continue to expend for IoT solutions. IDC expects the current IoT use cases are just the tip of the iceberg. Other enablers to the rise of IoT include:

• Ongoing development of smart cities/cars/houses: There is development happening in many industries to find a way to diversify products and services. For smart cities, municipalities are looking for ways to become more efficient, and IoT solutions provide several options to save money, improve productivity, and better serve their constituents.

• Enhance connectivity infrastructure: With the recent wave of network enhancements, connectivity is becoming increasingly ubiquitous — whether using personal area networks, local area networks such as WiFi, or wide area networks such as cellular, in addition to fixed connectivity. This anyway, anytime ability to connect anything is helping make IoT a reality.

• Connected culture: Globally, individuals are developing a high affinity for full-time connectivity, which makes consumer IoT a compelling proposition.

The Dubai governments’ recent plan to convert the entire emirate into a smart city represents exciting times ahead for us, as consumers. The project involves using smart sensors and devices across three tracks: Smart Life which deals with health, educational, transport, communications, public utilities, energy services; Smart Economy which deals with developing smart companies, port services, smart stock exchanges, smart jobs; and Smart Tourism which deals with providing a smart and convenient environment for the visitors to the emirate, such as visa, flight, smart gates and smart hotel services.

With most of the underlying infrastructure requirements in place, Dubai is well placed to convert itself into a true smart city. The significance of Dubai’s smart city plan to the region lies in the fact that the emirate’s physical and technology infrastructure is developed enough to embrace the smart technologies across these six dimensions: smart government, smart services, smart mobility, smart energy and environment, and smart buildings.

UAE is the regional eGovernment leader and Dubai recently announced its Mobile Government initiative making it one step closer to smart government as well as smart services. Considering the second dimension smart mobility, Dubai is way ahead of its peers with an integrated transportation system already in place which uses intelligent smart cards that can be used across multiple modes of transport. The emirate has already integrated smart gate functionality into national ID card (Emirates ID) and envisages it to become a single card for the residents to access a myriad of services in the future. The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority has already commenced a five year project to implement 250,000 smart meters across the emirate. Dubai is also taking a major step towards green buildings through the Dubai Green Building Code.

IDC believes that IoT applications usage and adoption by the public sector, especially in the UAE, can have a profound impact that can span a variety of domains: public security, defense, transport, and healthcare. In these areas, connected objects can provide real-time updates for situational awareness that can help act and react at the operational level, help monitor the status or behavior of people and assets to make management decisions, and support very fine-grained, sensor-driven analytics that help with planning decisions.