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Dubai Becomes First Internet of Things Network City in Middle East

Dubai will be equipped with sensors throughout the city, delivering information that will lead to better allocation of resources and alert city officials of infrastructure problems.

(TNS) -- The UAE's vision for smart city is set to become reality as the telecom du successfully tested a new breed of 'sensor-friendly network' to establish the smart city ecosystem in the country. The new cost-effective system, the first true Internet of Things (IoT) network in the Middle East, will revolutionize the modern-day cities and appropriate usage of resources by relaying data from sensors and consuming less energy to prolong sensor battery life for years.

The new network will be a key component of the smart city that will enable smarter management of a vast array of city resources such as smart street lighting, waste management and parking, among others.

"The telecom firm will roll out the first phase of revolutionary IoT network in Dubai by first quarter of 2016 and complete the countrywide project by yearend," Carlos Domingo, senior executive officer, New Businesses and Innovation for du, told Khaleej Times on Wednesday.

Elaborating the new development, he said existing networks are not designed to transmit data between millions of sensors across large areas. He said IoT requires a new type of low power consumption, long-range network, which prolongs battery life of sensors, making it both cost and energy efficient.

"One of the biggest aspects of smart city is the IoT. This requires a new breed of network that essentially makes the city smart by connecting sensors placed in everyday objects. Thanks to du, this capability now exists in the UAE and is a first in the Middle East," Domingo said.

According to the latest report released by Monitor Deloitte, the number and value of smart cities will expand substantially across the globe and led by European, North American and East Asian Cities. In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Dubai is leading the initiative by announcing a Smart Dubai move in March 2014 with the mission to make the emirate smartest city in the world by 2017. The report further predicts that the smart cities market will increase significantly over the next five years anywhere from over $400 billion to more than $1.5 trillion by 2020.

"This is a defining moment in the UAE's smart city transformation" and the company is looking into many other aspects of smart city with this new revolutionary development "We need millions of sensors to relay information over long distances to make a smart city -- existing networks cannot support this. We now have a more suitable and sustainable network that works over large areas and uses less power to prolong the life of sensors."

Dubai bids for smart city

Domingo said this revolutionary technology was recently showcased to Dubai's community and business leaders as part of du's growing capabilities as a smart city enabler.

"Dubai is our home and we want to lead its transition to become a better, smarter city for all to enjoy. Today we've shown how our network capabilities and digital know-how can deliver the Smart City ecosystem Dubai needs.

"We will not stop in Dubai, our deployment will continue countrywide throughout the UAE."

Unlike other smart city projects where cost is the main driver, he said Dubai's objective is to make people happy and du will share its due part to realize the smart city project.

"We want to make this happen by enhancing the way residents interact with their surroundings, enjoy their city and make life easier for them. This can happen in many ways, for example, using sensors to guide them to available parking to save time or creating a smart home where they can better manage their energy consumption and save money," he said.

To a question, he said du will explore the other gulf and international markets to deploy this state-of-the-art IoT network, but the immediate focus is to strengthen the domestic market.

"The prime focus of du will remain on the UAE domestic market and we may explore other international markets at a later stage," he said.

In reply to a question, he said the new IoT network will not have any negative impact on telecom firms' data revenue and actually it will pave the way for more business opportunities in coming years.

"IoT network will open new window of opportunities for telecom companies in the near future as more and more people will be connected to the system and use the Internet services," he said.

LoRa Alliance

To implement its IoT network, du has chosen LoRa, a technology promoted by the LoRa Alliance, an open, nonprofit association initiated to standardise networks globally to enable IoT, machine-to-machine, smart city and industrial applications.

"While we've helped establish the early foundations of the smart city with Wifi UAE, new technologies are also required that don't exist here -- and du is leading the way in bringing them here," Domingo said.

Earlier this year, du became one of the few operators in the world to deploy LTE Advanced across its network. In August last year, du also announced that VoLTE technology had successfully been installed and tested over its commercial LTE network.

©2015 Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.