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Saturday, 2.07.2022
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The second panel highlighted the essential elements needed for smart city development and the challenges KSA is currently facing in their construction

Construction Week Middle East’s KSA Infrastructure Summit kicked off with a provoking discussion, analysing the Kingdom’s advancement of infra projects named ‘Building on Vision 2030’.

The second panel highlighted the essential elements needed for smart city development, and the challenges which are currently faced in their construction.

The panel was moderated by Ranju Warrier, editor, Construction Week Middle East, and featured Sameer Daoud, executive director of infrastructure, KEO International Consultants. Manal Sayed, senior director of geospatial systems integration (GSI) division, Khatib & Alami, and Omar Delawar, CEO, DHB Holding.

Saudi Arabia has adopted a new strategy, which aims to transform the municipal and residential sector services into smart services through digital technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The smart city objectives will further enhance economic prosperity, environmental sustainability, and adequate government supervision.

KSA’s ‘smart city’ objectives

Warrier initiated the conversation by asking what the foundation of a smart city is as well as the targets and characteristics which are necessary for the city to be labelled as ‘smart’.

Delawar kicked off the discussion by stating the key features of a smart city, saying: “A smart city is a city which promotes sustainable practices and fights urban challenges, improving the quality of life.

“I think we need to achieve a smart economy, smart people, a smart environment and government, as well as smart living and mobility within the city.

“The foundation is ICT and digital transformation, if we look at KSA, the overall expenditure is over $30bn in 2021. The government invested $4bn in digital infrastructure and is currently developing 16 smart cities. ”

The Saudi ministry stressed that through the strategy, it aims to achieve three main goals: improving the quality of life of citizens, achieving financial sustainability, and improving the quality of services.

Daoud added to the discussion by highlighting: “Smart cities have never been mentioned in the vision, but if you read between the lines it is there. If we analyse the numbers, the investment value was at $3.5bn and now it is projected to reach $14.7bn by 2027. That is proof of what is happening in the Kingdom.”

Furthermore, smart cities will create solutions to the complex challenges associated with development, namely sustainability, congestion, transportation, and energy use, as KSA seeks to improve the quality of life for all members of its society.

Sayed also commented on the topic, saying: “I think sustainability is very important, as you cannot have a smart city that isn’t sustainable. There will be more pressure on existing services as the cities will grow. Technology will play a key role in KSA in creating a more efficient and cleaner place to live in.”

She added: “I think the most important word is integration, and connecting all the different components of the smart cities. This is crucial to support KSA’s infrastructure.”

KSA has already initiated efforts towards transforming the first five cities, including Makkah, Riyadh, Jeddah, Al-Madinah, Al-Ahsa, and NEOM.

The country has a clear vision and has taken a holistic approach focusing on key dimensions such as governance, mobility, economy, environment, people, and living to achieve its aspirations.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Mina Vucic

Quelle/Source: Construction Week, 08.04.2022

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