What it takes to realise smart cities

Orange Business Services' Dr Helmut Reisinger shares with us the requirements and challenges of smart cities.

By Nurdianah Md Nur
Aug. 2, 2016

Can you tell me more about Orange's smart city work globally and how the learnings can be applied in APAC?Orange strongly believes in the merits of the smart city movement. We are actively looking to support municipal governments across the globe with their IoT needs. In recent years, we have worked on projects in Europe and the Middle East. Each project has given us invaluable insights into the unique ways cities are run all over the world, many of which can be translated to cities in other regions as well.

In 2011, we created a dedicated smart city entity to support the digital transformation of towns. The objectives were to improve their economic and tourist attractiveness, streamline transportation flows, develop innovative services for residents, and to optimise resources. The smart city entity showcases Orange's digital research and innovation expertise to develop the technologies that will materialise the city of tomorrow.

A key learning with our smart city work is that most cities do not have the privilege of working with greenfield sites, and that technology providers need to exercise creativity in developing solutions that work around the constraints posed by brownfield sites. While there are greenfield developments in the Middle East such as King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia, Lusail in Qatar and Masdar City in the UAE, smart citiy projects in the Middle East are not just about brand new cities. Brownfield sites include Dubai and Doha, which aim to become 'smarter' cities.

In Saudi Arabia, Orange Business Services has been working with the Al Ra'idah Investment Company for years to develop the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) the largest of four smart cities the country invested $70 billion to build. Located north of Riyadh, KAFD will offer a futuristic smart city experience, extending across mass transit, energy supply, and more.

Orange is working with prominent French construction company, Eiffage, to implement all digital solutions for the new EcoDistrict Euroméditerranée, an eco-friendly development spanning, 58,000 m2 in Marseille. The EcoDistrict will see the installation of a very high speed global network infrastructure, which will support all the digital services available in the district, as well as provide free Wi-Fi coverage in all public areas. The city will also feature innovative urban solutions such as dynamic displays, interactive information points, shared parking. One highlight of the district is its web and mobile community portal, which will serve as the unifying bond between all services in the eco-district, and as a platform for exchanges among residents.

In France, we have also developed mobile applications for counties or towns, such as MaVilleDansMaPoche, an intelligent citizen's assistant on smartphone. These applications aggregate and distribute to the residents all information pertaining to the city and the greater region. Residents will receive information on events, parking availability, bus or tram arrival times, and security and weather alerts. They can also make use of the application to report safety or traffic incidents to the city. Such mobile applications facilitate the everyday life of a city's residents, and improve the quality and efficiency of public services.

While many of these solutions are already present here in APAC in various forms, we have learnt through our smart cities work that the success of these initiatives depends on the integration of solutions, and the sharing of information among stakeholders. Most smart city initiatives are spearheaded by governments, but the private sector and members of the public need to be engaged right from the planning phase so as to ensure the successful implementation and meaningful adoption of smart city solutions.

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