The IoT, or Internet of Things, is catching the attention of both the media and IT companies as they begin to see the value in a growing network of physical objects that can connect to the internet. And it certainly hasn't escaped the attention of Dubai, which is looking at every possible avenue to lead the race to become the smartest city in the world.
The IoT is the intelligent network of smart devices. Any items that have software, sensors, or electronics within them can connect and exchange data between them. This allows objects to make decisions about our physical world that will drive efficiency, quality of life, and business growth. The network can also allow cities to manage services in a more effective and active way by learning how citizens use services and other trend lines. This, in turn, can offer a wide range of business opportunities to the private sector as it delivers greater value to customers and employees, find more operating efficiencies, and enable them to create new business models. The IoT is catching the attention of both the media and IT companies hoping to tap into the growing market of IoT services. Arab Advisors Group’s research on the IoT in the Middle East reported that, by October 2015, 22 mobile operators in 12 countries offered IoT. It looks like private companies and governments in the Middle East will make the region one of the world’s fastest adopters of IoT in 2016. The UAE is willing to lead the race to become the smartest city in the world. Monitor Deloitte reported that Dubai is leading the initiative in the GCC by announcing its Smart Dubai initiative in March 2014. Deloitte also predicts the smart cities market to increase by at least $400 billion up to $1.5 trillion by 2020.
And with that, the UAE’s vision is now set to become a reality. The Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, du, will implement the first smart city ecosystem in Dubai and the whole Middle East. The intelligent network’s first phase will be completed by 1Q2016 in Dubai and it is expected to be implemented in the rest of the country by the end of the year. This will revolutionize the way in which cities operate. Through the analysis of gathered data, cities will be able to make more appropriate use of their resources.
In 2015 Cisco and Smart Dubai published a report that stated that the IoT would create new opportunities for the public and private sectors and attested that this technology has a potential of AED17.9 billion in value by 2019. Entrepreneurs, the innovative minds that will drive Dubai’s knowledge economy, can really contribute to the success of this sector. Over the next three years, Dubai will initiate 1,000 new digital data-gathering projects to develop and improve the infrastructure provided to residents. These projects will increase the city’s competitiveness by improving efficiency and productivity. Furthermore, the other telecoms giant in the country, Etisalat, has announced a collaboration with Dubai Parks and Resorts to develop the region’s first smart theme park in order to join the country’s IoT ecosystem. All these projects are creating the necessary infrastructure and services to accommodate the additional 25 million visitors that will arrive on time for World Expo 2020.
Looking back, only 1,000 connections to the internet existed 30 years ago throughout the world, while nowadays there are about 13 billion connections. Cisco’s ‘Internet of Everything Report’ estimates that 37 billion new items will be connected and 2.5 billion new people will be online by 2020. Juniper Research recorded 13.4 billion connected items in 2015, which means that there will be a 275% growth in connectivity in only five years. Additionally, Cisco’s report forecasts $19 trillion in IoT opportunities worldwide. It is no surprise the momentum that the IoT craze is gaining not only in the Middle East but also worldwide, with endless connections still to take place, many of which can help us improve how we live and work in ways we cannot yet understand. Nevertheless, international standards need to be developed in the IoT industry. The huge amounts of data that these devices will produce involve exhaustive legal, economic, and societal aspects. Companies and governments need to determine how to track, analyze, and store all generated data. But once this is done, the IoT industry will create endless opportunities. The IoT is the biggest technology trend happening at the moment and the time to jump on the bandwagon is now.