Sultanate has ‘foundation ready’ for smart cities

SALALAH, Aug 7 – Smart cities are not only externally smart. They are smart due to their comprehensiveness and capabilities of technology and adaptability which is derived from a strong data base. The Sultanate’s capabilities of technology to help build smart cities were praised at the recently concluded session of geographical information system (GIS) in Salalah. Shafiq Jiwani, Executive Vice-President of Rolta Middle East, praised Oman’s data collection capabilities and its desire to develop urban dwellings as smart cities.
He gave an elaborate presentation on the components of the smart cities, cited some case studies and appreciated Oman’s drive and ambition to work together for the benefit of all.
He, however, termed it a great challenge for many other organisations in many countries to establish good cooperation between them.
“Here in Oman I find this working. This makes things easy while doing infrastructure development because transparency is one of the requirements of a smart city where service components are dependent on cooperation.”
Talking to the Observer, Jiwani threw light on the concept of smart cities and their feasibility in the GCC countries.
“To get a smart city it is necessary to have collaboration between various agencies like the telecom, municipality, water and electricity and so far.
“All these government agencies need to work together and their various systems need to be able to integrate. Geography becomes binding force behind any such integration.”

Shafiq Jiwani

Commenting on the reality of smart cities, Jiwani said, “This project is active in many different countries, especially in the first world countries. There is strong drive in the GCC countries towards making the cities smart.”
He cited examples of some municipalities, transport system, cluster creative authority, telecom and water and electricity departments of the region which were working in tandem with the principles of the smart city.
“I see very similar drive in Oman. The government wants to do this as it has all the foundation ready. The basic foundation is data.
“Organisations like the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), Oman National Survey Authority (NSA), Ministry of Housing, and the municipalities, have got very good GIS data and have very good foundation to be able to implement a smart city,” he said.
Commenting on timeframe for developing a city as a smart city, Jiwani said that there is no real timeframe in the sense that there is so much that need to be done.
“You are able to see the benefits within six to 12 months, but a city becomes smart very quickly,” he said.
“When I see the level of commitment right from the top here in Oman, I am sure achieving that vision would not be difficult. It has financial and political backing towards smart cities.
“I see Oman is very advanced, not only in terms of the data, but also for the desire to work together.
“Typically what you see with many government departments that they do not want to part with their data.
They collect it and feel like it is just for them.
“Here in Oman there is a strong desire to share the data not only with the public, but also within the departments that make the system more transparent and efficient. So I see there is a very positive step in Oman for smart cities,” he concluded.

Kaushalendra Singh