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The GCC is leading the way in terms of smart tech

The Gulf is at the forefront when it comes to implementing a green future, adopting new trends and investing in technology and digital readiness

Deniz Akkaya is the VP for the Gulf, Pakistan, and East Mediterranean at Schneider Electric.
Deniz Akkaya is the VP for the Gulf, Pakistan, and East Mediterranean at Schneider Electric.

The future can be green — but with meticulous planning and innovation. Three mega-trends are provoking a huge increase in energy demand. By 2050, the world’s cities will be home to an additional 2.5 billion people; another 50 billion devices and “things” will be connected to the internet within five years; and industrial energy use will increase by 50% over the next 35 years.

Today, we still depend on unsustainable CO2 emitting fuels for 85% of our energy, trapping as much heat in the atmosphere as exploding 400,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs per day, 365 days a year. At the same time, we believe that access to energy is a basic human right, but 1.3 billion people have no electricity at all, and another billion have only an intermittent supply.

So, we are facing an energy dilemma: consumption will grow by 50% and at the same time we must cut our CO2 emissions in half. The only possible solution is to become three times more efficient. However, the majority of the economic potential to improve energy efficiency remains untapped.

Think of buildings, machines, homes, transportation, and the list goes on. This is why we embrace the Internet of Things (IoT). This is why we believe connectivity and intelligence is a 21st century game changer. This is all about efficient innovation of new world of energy and automation. Fortunately, countries in the Gulf are at the forefront of this change, adopting new trends quickly, and continuously investing in technology and digital readiness.

In this age, the ability to effectively conceive and manage an urbanisation process that is energy-efficient, while providing superior quality of services, and generating growth in the economy, is absolutely critical.

Smart cities also require collaborations between the public and private sectors. They require is a seamlessly integrated communications strategy that connects a range of devices to facilitate infrastructure management.

It is now possible to install millions of devices in cities, at relatively low cost. Smart cities, therefore, require ubiquitous broadband connectivity that facilitates machine-to-machine and machine-to-human communications. This is collectively known as the IoT, and when combined with big data and automation technologies across industrial segments such as oil and gas, power and utilities, this becomes the next industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, or the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

IIoT, when integrated into infrastructure, can go a long way in optimising resources. The regional cities, with their rapidly expanding property portfolio and upcoming mega-events, are now trying to create smart and digitally connected infrastructure to meet the high benchmarks of a sustainable smart cities. The great thing about smart solutions embedded with connectivity and intelligence is that they can be applied just as easily to city operations management, or an energy utility, as they can be applied to oil and gas, mining, or food and beverage (F&B) plant management.

New demand in the GCC also comes from green energy. In order to become a smart city, the region must use its resources wisely and diversify its energy mix. With the onset of the IoT, companies now have an exciting opportunity to contribute to the green energy sector.

Implementing renewable energy projects can result in massive savings. Studies conducted by IRENA, in collaboration with UAE institutions, have found that it could save up to $2bn a year by 2020, in terms of costs from subsidies, by increasing its renewable energy generation.

Urbanisation, industrialisation, and digitisation have thrown up challenges as well as opportunities. The time has come for businesses to embrace IoT-enabled innovation, which can enable industries to drive innovation at every level. We will see immense business value and a greener planet as a result.

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Construction Week - Issue 738
Apr 21, 2019