Kuwait’s Ministry of Electricity and Water announced this past September a new smart meter project which will connect hundreds of thousands of buildings across the country.
The project is a partnership with telco Zain and business consultants Oliver Wyman, with Ericsson acting as systems integrator.
The project will install a total of 800,000 electrical meters and 300,000 water meters to homes and office across the country, helping to meet the New Kuwait Vision 2035 goals of effective governance.
Smart meter sensors will transmit water and electricity data on Zain’s networks to the ministry’s digital core. Ericsson will provide SAP’s HANA in-memory platform to process the data, which will be used for real time data on utilities usage and billing.
By running on a digital core, the ministry can enable customers to pay bills online and via mobile apps, alert customers if their utilities usage spikes, and “gamify” the experience to encourage more sustainable utilities usage. The ministry can also contact customers in case of utilities emergencies.
“Kuwait’s residents expect to interact with their utilities providers as quickly and easily as any private sector company,” says Dr Meshan Alotaibi, assistant undersecretary of consumer affairs at the Ministry of Electricity and Water in Kuwait.
“By partnering with global technology companies, real-time utilities usage and billing will help our customers to save time and enhance our utilities maintenance and sustainability, all in line with Kuwait National Development Plan’s smart government goals.”
Ahmed Al-Faifi, senior vice president and managing director at SAP Middle East North, says: “Digital energy networks and smart meters are transforming utilities providers around the world, with the Kuwait Ministry of Electricity and Water demonstrating leadership in developing next-generation energy infrastructure. We’re exchanging global best practices in smart utilities for the Ministry to have a 360-degree customer view, for more efficient utilities maintenance, transmission, and distribution.”
what the challenges are – and not overcomplicate things. “We just want to see one interface, see one surface in an app. For the companies to be able to achieve that, it’s important the infrastructure, the network is virtualised, it runs on softwaredefined storage, is taking advantage of the cloud – it’s important that all of that works in a seamless infrastructure.”
He also advocates collaboration as a way for dealing with the network and security challenges of smart cities. “If you think about it from a technology perspective, I would say 80 to 90% of what every company does is the same,” says Miles.
Abdul Wahid Mattoo, security incident response manager at du, says with each IoT device having an IP address in a smart city, it can be hacked – and the exponential increase of IoT devices means that many more things that can be attacked. Plus, there’s another issue. “The bad guys also communicate with each other,” he says.
“We need to unite. When we don’t collaborate, who takes advantage? Hackers do.”
In a smart city, he says an example could be a shared firewall everyone contributes to, or government regulations requiring sharing of information and collaboration. Not only would this provide security benefits, he says, but also create a more seamless experience.
Another solution for managing network capacity is 5G, according to Huawei deputy and rotating chairperson Ken Hu. Much of his speech at Huawei’s Global MBB Forum, held in London in November, focused on how 5G could help with data demands in smart cities, especially in that upgrading networks for 5G services provides a good opportunity to use the latest technology to increase network capacity simultaneously.
At the same event, GSMA director-general Mats Granyrd stressed the importance of what he called “intelligent management.” He said managing network demand, especially coming from the explosion in IoT devices, will be key to “the development of a rich and vibrant digital economy.”
Yet a smart city is more than new technologies and investing in new infrastructure and managing the data demands – at least according to
Mary Ames, director of strategy at Xische & Co. She argues a smart city is really about services – something telcos should keep in mind when ironing out strategies for smart city development.
“Telcos already own and operate world class infrastructure to meet the connectivity requirements of their customers, and have the in-house expertise required to not only manage these networks, but also to create value from the data generated by this network,” she explains.
“Telcos can provide similar services for each layer of the smart city project: from installing, managing and securing IoT connected sensors, to data orchestration, management and storage; to supporting enabling services such as data intelligence or APIs, to delivering customer-centric applications for businesses and individuals.”
We need to unite. When we don’t collaborate, who takes advantage? Hackers do.”
Abdul Wahid Mattoo
Marwan Bin Dalmook, senior vice president for ICT solutions and smart city operations at du.
Red Hat's Lee Miles.