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Freitag, 1.07.2022
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The emirate took advantage of the World Expo 2020, which closed in March, to build a huge area filled with sensors and cameras. While some argue this technology can aid in combating climate change, more and more cities are being tempted to use such devices for security purposes.

It took the man in the dark suit and pink tie no more than two seconds and a click to display the water consumption of building SA07, or to view the electricity consumption, find out how many people are on the second floor or check that the temperature is set correctly. On this particular Wednesday in March, the outside temperature was already near 30°C and the air conditioners were running at full blast. Two neighboring buildings were exceeding the initial thresholds, he explained to his audience, who were attending a tour of the building via a screen. The maintenance team was notified and would be able to make adjustments.

The World Expo in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, lasted six months and welcomed 20 million visitors before it closed at the end of March. During this period, a simple application allowed a team of technicians and engineers, including Afzal Shabaz Mohammed – the man in the pink tie and head of innovation at the local Siemens office – to have real-time readings of the innards and oversee the functioning of this mini-city that was built for the occasion. No less than 200,000 sensors and 15,000 cameras were installed on the grounds, which were twice the size of Monaco.

This battery of sensors does not belong to Siemens. However, as it competes with the digital giants in the global market for connected cities – the so-called smart city, data city or safe city, as the case may be – the German company is running the control tower. The company saw Expo 2020 as a unique opportunity on the scale of a medium-sized city to test MindSphere, its in-house digital platform capable of interacting with any other system, analyzing data and thus controlling major urban functions: networks, infrastructure or security. The lives of 137 buildings, the entrances and exits of the district and the countless parking lots were placed under a microscope.

Zero-carbon city

The expo ended at the end of March, but the sensors and control tower have not stopped transmitting. The technology, already tested in Aspern, a suburb of Vienna, Austria, is to be deployed in the area that is to succeed the World Expo and which will therefore continue to serve as a proof of concept. Istanbul, Turkey, has already expressed interest. And if Neom, the $500 billion (€475 billion) futuristic city envisioned by Mohammed Ben Salman Al Saud (known as "MBS"), the Saudi crown prince, ever emerges from the sands, the Germans hope to get in on the action.

In Dubai, no one is bothered by the fact that urbanization is still nibbling away at the desert – the municipality is projected to double in population by 2040 – since the so-called smart city will be "zero-carbon." The same arguments were used by Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Google's parent company, Alphabet, when it touted its futuristic neighborhood project in Toronto, Canada. The 5-hectare Quayside would be an environmental model, Sidewalk Labs' chief executive said. Expo 2020 has declined to release its numbers. "[But] we think we've achieved 20% to 30% in energy savings," said Matthias Rebellius, the global director of Siemens Smart Infrastructure.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Emeline Cazi

Quelle/Source: Le Monde, 14.06.2022

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