Smart city initiatives gaining ground

Smart city initiatives gaining groundThe Saudi IT market is unique in terms of technology adoption and investment, according to a report released in Riyadh. “The Saudi market is unique in terms of technology adoption and investment, as well as infrastructure development, specifically in the fixed and wireless broadband, mobility and cyber security forums, following recent developments in the country across these three verticals. All of this is likely to play a major role that will touch upon other domains, such as nationalization initiatives across the country,” Abdulaziz Al-Helayyil, country manager-Saudi Arabia at International Data Corporation( IDC), said at a presentation made at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
International Data Corporation announced its annual predictions for 2014 for the information and communications technology (ICT) industry in the Kingdom. IDC’s predictions reflect the ongoing factors that will set the trend for the country’s ICT development. “Experts anticipate that the trickle-down effect of these predictions will initiate a change within a variety of industries, such as government, healthcare, logistics, and finance. ICT-based transformation, such as smart cities, mobility and security will be the hot topics for 2014 in the Kingdom, directly affecting government investment in cyber security, corporate investment in cloud, and a major shift in consumer brand preference in tablets and smart phones,” said Al-Helayyil, The predictions include transformation of telecom operators will accelerate while they develop their role as an end-to-end ICT solution provider — operators will move beyond merely launching ICT offerings and farm clear strategies to acquire a broader role in ICT solutions value chain.
Partnerships will flourish as operators move to offer complex IT services. Also, acquisition that boosts teleecom IT service delivery capability or expand their professional services cannot be ruled out. To this end, he added that the opportunities across the digital services spectrum such as mGovernment, mHealth and mEducation will be closely monitored by telcos, while M2M, Cloud, Mobility, Smart cites and Industry Intelligent solutions will remain key technology focus areas. Enterprise mobility will become more prevalent supported by the rapid penetration of SMBs — Instant globalization facilitated through use of social media, connected applications and mobile resources will continue drive to acceptance of Enterprise Mobility in 2014.
Growing economic activity backed by the government’s focus to diversify its economy will continue to push businesses, particularly SMBs, to acquire ICT solutions in general and mobility in particular. Businesses are enthused about cost optimization and process efficiency delivered through mobility solution, which will drive the mobility solutions market in 2014 and beyond, continuing a trend that started in 2010, where deployment of business applications on mobile has doubled by 2013 as an important technology priority among Saudi businesses, according to IDC’s Enterprise Communications Survey. Saudi Arabia will increase its focus on smart city initiatives — both for greenfield and existing cities.
There will be two dimensions to Saudi Arabia’s focus on its smart cities’ efforts: focus on existing cities, as well as focus on its greenfield initiatives. In terms of its existing cities, IDC predicts that, in 2014, the discussion for smart cities will move to the next level. Municipalities in the Kingdom will start to allocate resources toward developing ideal smart city projects to meet the specific needs of citizens. As a complementary effort, the Kingdom has been investing billions of dollars to build new economic cities in order to diversify its economy away from the hydrocarbon sector.
IDC predicts higher demand next year for ICT solutions and services arising from developments related to these economic cities will begin to gain traction. As the Kingdom is building these cities from the ground up, they will be able to adopt the latest technology solutions to make them truly competitive. IDC expects that the immediate focus of IT spending will be concentrated on the deployment of fixed and wireless broadband infrastructure.

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