The Internet of Things and the future of transport

The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to drive new and exciting projects. Here in my home of Dubai, smart city initiatives are underway designed to transform infrastructure, under the umbrella of the Dubai Plan 2021 which was launched at the end of 2014. One of the aims of the project is to make Dubai one of the world’s best connected, smartest and happiest cities by 2017, achieved by IoT – and IoT technologies could see Dubai reach a potential value of around US $5 billion by 2019.

The Dubai Plan 2021 is made up of ambitious programs and projects designed to lower costs, improve employee productivity, generate new revenues and enhance benefits for citizens. A key pillar of the Dubai Smart City strategy is smart transport.

Transport is a big deal in Dubai. As a relatively new city they have had the opportunity to design bespoke systems that fully address people’s transport needs, and advent of IoT technology has very much helped in this regard.

The smart city projects are created and driven by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), the government transportation authority in Dubai which is responsible for planning and executing transport and traffic projects. The RTA has recently launched a range of initiatives around smart mobility, with a view to testing the technologies involved and adapting them to smart city goals.

Connected cars and beyond

Connected cars is one of these schemes and smart transportation could be set to be a real game-changer for Dubai. One research report forecast that the connected car market in the Middle East and Africa region will be worth around $950 million by the end of 2016, which is a pretty amazing growth rate.

The RTA is also building on global demand for more smart cars by implementing a unique smart car rental service using connected vehicles. The service targets technology-savvy commuters and will use an hourly rentals system where people collect cars at public lots and return then to kiosks close to metro stations. There are also plans to introduce more smart city infrastructure and systems to help the public get around Dubai. One is a new smart parking system that gives drivers suggestions on the most convenient places to park cars close to their destinations and is designed to reduce congestion in busy parking lots and reduce time wasted searching for vacant slots.

Research reports have shown that as much as 40 per cent of city center traffic is caused by drivers searching for parking, so the impact of Dubai’s smart parking scheme could be significant. A new smart ticketing system for bus passengers is also being planned, and will remove the need to tap cards on a scanner when boarding the bus. Safety is set to be improved too with a new smart system for monitoring the physical condition of bus drivers while on the job. The system will identify any signs of tiredness, exhaustion or illness and could positively impact accident rates on Dubai’s roads.

All about the smarts

So with transport set for a revolution in Dubai, how does the RTA deliver on all of it? These innovative solutions are designed to maximize resources and, very importantly, make life better for every citizen. In a city which does not have the historic infrastructure in place to adapt to a large rail network or bus system, smart transport solutions, shared car schemes, smart parking and other digitally-powered solutions can all help keep the people moving smoothly and efficiently, effective delivery is key.

Orange has worked on for smart transportation initiatives, digital transformation and IoT solutions and services for many years in the MEA region and has the expertise to ensure successful delivery. With the region set for greater tourism and travel demands in the near future – Dubai is preparing to host the Dubai World Expo in 2020 and neighboring Qatar will be home to the 2022 FIFA World Cup - more smart infrastructure and transport is required.

Orange’s capabilities in passenger-centered mobility services, digitization of pricing and payments, integrated, intelligent transport networks and particularly the experience of working on major government initiatives in the region means we will have a key part to play as the MEA region makes its transport and cities increasingly smart.

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Fadi Shanaah
Fadi Shanaah is Business Development Director at Orange Business - MENAT, responsible for planning, managing and developing the business of the strategic verticals (Smart Cities & Healthcare) for Orange Business in Middle East, North Africa & Turkey. 
He has over 17 years’ experience in business development and leadership in the GCC & Middle East regions across a range of local and multinational technology organizations in the ICT, Smart Cities/IoT, ELV and Automation & Control Industries. Prior to Orange, Fadi worked at Schreder, Honeywell, conject and others.