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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Smart Connections

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the largest economy in the Middle East, is universally recognized as the world’s largest producer and exporter of petroleum. In recent years, however, it has emerged as a visionary leader in leveraging networked technology, especially in developing a number of Smart City projects to attract business while controlling sprawl and congestion.

Cisco Consulting Services estimates that KSA alone can gain about $84 billion of total economic value from the Internet of Everything, which is the connection of people, processes, data and things. Nearly $16 billion of this is in the public sector, with profitability, cost savings and enhanced experiences coming from urban services such as smart street lighting, smart traffic management, mobile collaboration, chronic disease control, connected learning and healthcare, to name a few.

Globally, Cisco sees a total $19 trillion opportunity for both the public and private sectors. 

Last week, I revisited Saudi Arabia for the 16th time in five years and saw first-hand its progress in developing Smart Cities, or what we at Cisco call, Smart + Connected Communities. I had the honor of participating in the Cityquest KAEC Forum, jointly organized by the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) and New Cities Foundation, which assembled global thought leaders in some of the most advanced Smart City projects.

I had the pleasure of participating in an enthusiastic panel discussion on local and global urban innovations made possible by “Connecting Through Technology,” moderated by Andrew Sewer, journalist and former managing editor of Fortune Magazine.

As reported in The Arab News, Abdullatif A. Al-Othman, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), kicked off the conference by emphasizing that public sector investments to diversify the economy are “… the most promising and significant in terms of job creation, technology transfer and exports development,” pointing to KAEC as a prime example.

“Digital native” cities such as KAEC have the benefit of starting from the ground up to incorporate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) into the master planning process. Here, it is recognized that technology is the fourth essential infrastructure for cities, along with water, gas and electricity.

I had the opportunity to see first-hand the amazing progress KAEC has made since it was announced in the summer of 2008 with Cisco’s partnership as the ICT master planner. In addition to its urban planning foresight, KAEC represents a global model of how government, its people and investors worldwide can create a smarter and more sustainable community.

I also visited Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital and largest city, where a tremendous transformation is under way to build one of the largest rapid transit projects in the region, Riyadh Metro. Built on the strong vision of Riyadh Governor Prince Turki bin Abdullah, in combination with the strategic plan of Arriyadh Development Authority as well as all the hard work being done by Riyadh Municipality, Riyadh Metro is expected to be the beginning of a modern 21st century digital city.

My take-away is that public and private sector leaders throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recognize the power and potential of the Internet of Everything. They are diversifying their petroleum-based economy by embracing the digital era, focusing intently now on Smart City projects.

 

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Open Source at The Large Hadron Collider and Data Gravity

I am delighted to announce a new Open Source cybergrant awarded to the Caltech team developing the ANSE project at the Large Hadron Collider. The project team lead by Caltech Professor Harvey Newman will be further developing the world’s fastest data forwarding network with Open Daylight. The LHC experiment is a collaboration of world’s top Universities and research institutions, the network is designed and developed by the California Institute of Technology High Energy Physics department in partnership with CERN and the scientists in search of the Higgs boson, adding new dimensions to the meaning of “big data analytics”, the same project team that basically set most if not all world records in data forwarding speeds over the last decade, and quickly approaching the remarkable 1 Tbps milestone.

Unique in its nature and remarkable in its discovery, the LHC experiment and its search for the elusive particle, the very thing that imparts mass to observable matter, is not only stretching the bleeding edge of physics, but makes the observation that data behaves as if it has gravity too. With the exponential rise in data (2 billion billion bytes per day and growing!), services and applications are drawn to “it”. Moving data around is neither cheap nor trivial. Though advances in network bandwidth are in fact observed to be exponential (Nielsen’s Law), advances in compute are even faster (Moore’s Law), and storage even more.  Thus, the impedance mismatch between them, forces us to feel and deal with the rising force of data gravity, a natural consequence of the laws of physics. Since not all data can be moved to the applications nor moved to core nor captured in the cloud, the applications will be drawn to it, a great opportunity for Fog computing, the natural evolution from cloud and into the Internet of Things.

Congratulations to the Caltech physicists, mathematicians and computer scientists working on this exciting project. We look forward to learning from them and their remarkable contribution flowing in Open Source made possible with this cybergrant so that everyone can benefit from it, not just the elusive search for gravity and dark matter. After all, there was a method to the madness of picking such elements for Open Daylight as Hydrogen and Helium. I wander what comes next…

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#SmartConnectedCity Series Wrap-up: IoE, Smart+Connected Communities, and the Future of Cities

Imagine what a city could and should look like in several years. What do you see?

  • What will be top of mind for citizens?
  • How will citizens be accessing information and engaging with city agencies?
  • What tools will be needed in this future of cities?

Well, look no further because the city of the future is here today. Insight related to those questions, and many more, is provided by Cisco’s Wim Elfrink in Huffington Post, as he explores innovative concepts for urban sustainability and new possibilities for an improved citizen experience, as well as how the Internet of Everything (IoE) can help enrich people’s lives.     Read the full article via Huffington Post, published today.

IoE, the Smart+Connected Communities Framework, and the Impact on the Public Sector

Throughout the New Cities Summit, as well as throughout our #SmartConnectedCity blog series, we took a look at how IoE and technology are helping to re-define cities by providing a framework for city and local government leaders to improve agency agility and performance, to increase operational efficiency and reduce costs, and to enhance on-demand citizen services. Below, for additional insight, Anil Menon and Wim Elfrink elaborate on this topic from New Cities Summit last week, as well as kick off a discussion about the subsequent impact on the public sector, which includes expanding access to education and healthcare. 

To see more actual examples showing the impact of technology and IoE on cities and the public sector, click on the image below. Read More »

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#SmartConnectedCity Series: City Infrastructure Management, City Wi-Fi and a Global Urban Services Revolution

Cities have traditionally operated their various agencies—utilities, healthcare, education, public safety, air quality, water and waste management—in silos, creating duplication in investment and limiting effectiveness.

In the face of population shifts and rapid urbanization, cities and local government leaders are realizing that in order to compete economically and grow sustainably, they have to integrate these functions and the data they generate and require.

Developing and maintaining a city’s digital infrastructure is becoming as important as the development and maintenance of its physical infrastructure. Like a fourth utility, the services offered across a digital infrastructure are becoming as essential and ubiquitous as water, electricity or plumbing. Jobs and investment—the lifeblood of the city—will depend on it.

Making this vision a reality requires that the many city vertical systems operate more cohesively, adopting an open data approach to gather and share information across a single über network. Cisco refers to this as Smart+ConnectedCity Infrastucture Management (CIM).

Read More »

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How forward thinking cites are using the Internet of Everything to fix their economies

Chicago was recently announced as the host city for the Internet of Things World Forum this autumn, following Barcelona’s excellent performance as host last autumn. This forum is important because it’s already way more than just another collection of business types in a hotel.

It’s increasingly relevant for cities to want to host this event. Yes, the conference revenue is useful, but more than that it is an opportunity to showcase your city as forward thinking. Barcelona as host was a great example.

It’s fair to say that despite recent optimism, the world, and especially Western Europe and North America, is still recovering from the financial earthquakes of five years ago. Government deficit is everywhere. The response to the crisis in most western economies has been a series of austerity programmes, with social and other services being cut whilst taxes slowly rise. Everybody has been feeling the pain. Spain was one of the hardest-hit European economies. In Spain, youth unemployment exceeded 50%, with serious concerns in some parts of the country about the potential for social order breakdown. Read More »

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