Comms MEA - - Smart Cities Special Report -

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.”

Smarter ser­vices

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.

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