• Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

For its year-end edition, Telecom Review sat with key industry players to discuss the impact of telecom initiatives on smart city development. Marc Veelenturf, CEO of Middle East & Turkey at Atos; Bernard Najm, Vice President telco MEA at AWS; and Eng. Saad A. Al-Sadhan, Chief of Business and Wholesale Officer at Zain KSA, shared their insights on how the ICT sector can help shape smarter and more sustainable communities. Stay tuned as the three experts shed light on the evolving landscape of technology and connectivity.

Smart Destination Platform: Global and Local Partnership Reshaping Saudi’s Smart City Projects

As the world becomes increasingly urbanized, cities are facing a multitude of challenges. From traffic congestion to pollution, these issues can have a significant impact on the quality of life for residents. To address these challenges, many cities are turning to smart city initiatives that leverage technology to improve efficiency and sustainability.

In the dynamic landscape of mega projects, Atos works in partnership with AWS, a leading cloud provider, and Zain KSA, a leading digital services and solutions provider in Saudi Arabia, steering the course toward a future where smart solutions are not just a possibility but a reality that transforms the very fabric of Saudi Arabia's giga projects. “By combining our award-winning 5G network with the global expertise of Atos and AWS, we seek to bring smart solutions to power a wide range of smart city functionalities,” Al-Sadhan said.

Navigating Digital Challenges

To build smart cities and enable hyper-connected communities, one of the key challenges is managing large amounts of data from various sources and integrating multiple technologies and systems into a cohesive and interoperable ecosystem. Through this partnership, Zain KSA will utilize Atos’ Smart Destination platform to enable smart city initiatives and improve the quality of life for residents across the Kingdom.

The Smart Destination platform provides a centralized data management system that allows for easy integration and analysis of data from multiple sources. Moreover, this platform relies on openness and interoperability. By using open standards and APIs, it can easily integrate with different systems and data sources - from traffic sensors to weather forecasts - to provide a comprehensive view of what is happening in the city. This allows citizens and visitors to access up-to-date information about everything from public transportation schedules to local events.

With the platform’s ability around context brokerage and MACH architecture, the platform can offer many benefits for both citizens and businesses along with creating more liveable, sustainable, and resilient cities. Additionally, the Smart Destination platform helps cities reduce their environmental footprint through energy management systems and waste reduction programs.

Smart city solutions must also address concerns regarding data privacy and security, in compliance with the local regulations of each market. Zain KSA, AWS and Atos all acknowledge the paramount importance of security in the implementation of smart city initiatives. As a leading digital enabler in the Kingdom aligned with international best practices and local cybersecurity requirements, Zain KSA supports its global partners in navigating the local cybersecurity landscape.

As a global leader in digital transformation services, Atos has developed innovative approaches and thought leadership to address these challenges. The Smart Destination platform includes advanced security features such as encryption and authentication protocols that ensure sensitive data remains secure at all times. “By collaborating with market-leading partners in Saudi Arabia, like Zain KSA, Atos is committed to delivering a holistic solution that extends far beyond initial deployment. The company’s comprehensive Managed and Support Services stand as a testament to our dedication to ensuring the longevity and success of our partners' endeavors,” stated Veelenturf.

Creating Smart Solutions for Smart Cities

Bernard Najm, Vice President telco MEA, AWS

AWS cloud is a scalable, robust and secure platform for agile and fast paced innovation. Their approach is to put the tools for this innovation right into the hands of developers of telecom operators and ISVs to help the public and business sectors create smart solutions, including smart cities.

As smart city environments comprise a broad range of complex and fragmented use cases, each with different and sometimes very specific objectives, financials and ROI metrics, the economics of AWS cloud remove barriers by providing the freedom to scale up and down. “AWS’ focus is to marry those benefits with the secure and advanced connectivity services from telecom operators to enable smart city environments that deliver new experiences and can evolve quickly as new technologies and new innovations are brought to market,” said Najm. ISVs and integrators, such as Atos, play a critical role in accelerating the implementation of smart cities as they facilitate the use of AWS services by Zain KSA and their B2B2x end customers, while also developing their own services on AWS.

Cloud economics drive innovation in telecom services enabling providers to run their solutions in adjacent markets and deliver them to consumers over AWS cloud. For example, the network-as-a-service feature enables scalable smart city solutions that are based on successful business cases and that create tangible outcomes.

Zain KSA: An Enabler of Smart Urban Hubs

Eng. Saad A. Al-Sadhan, Chief of Business and Wholesale Officer, Zain KSA

“Smart cities are not just about efficient systems but about improving the quality of life for all residents. Zain KSA's commitment to creating a robust backbone for these technologies is critical in ensuring that smart cities can function efficiently and effectively,” Al-Sadhan said.

With its advanced 5G network, Zain KSA is supporting the Kingdom’s transition into a digital economy, with a particular focus on smart city Giga-projects. Encompassing everything from connectivity to cloud platform development to an expanding suite of scalable services delivered to end users, and enterprise and government customers, Zain KSA has grown into a digital partner of choice offering reliable and advanced telecom and cloud services to millions of subscribers in Saudi Arabia.

One of their key areas of focus has been the development and deployment of smart city infrastructure, including through partnerships with MODON, NEOM and The Red Sea. With their resilient IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, and IoT platforms, Zain KSA is playing a pivotal role in spearheading this technological evolution. Zain KSA's platforms are designed to seamlessly manage data from multiple sources, ensuring that it can be analyzed and used effectively by city planners and other stakeholders.

Smart cities need to collect real-time data in all media types from various sources. Zain KSA’s telecom networks are instrumental in facilitating the integration of these devices into the IaaS-IoT framework, guaranteeing smooth communication and efficient data exchange. This means that everything from traffic lights to parking meters can be connected to a central system that can monitor and manage them in real-time.

Security and privacy stand as pillars in their journey. Zain KSA ensures round-the-clock monitoring to prioritize the security and privacy of data generated and processed within smart city systems. Zain KSA SOCaaS providers offer a range of services designed to monitor and protect smart city systems 24/7. These services include SOC (Security Operations Center), EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response), MDR (Managed Detection and Response), and MXDR (Extended Detection and Response). Each of these services plays a critical role in ensuring that smart city systems remain secure.

As smart cities continue to grow around the world, so does the need for reliable connectivity solutions. Zain KSA has taken steps towards implementing robust SLA maintenance and oversight procedures, ensuring smooth operations while building trust among its customers through effective communication channels.

Sustainable Smart City Development

Veelenturf continued, mentioning that the world has become more aware of the impact of climate change and environmental degradation. Hence, smart city development has become increasingly important.

The first way that smart city functions can contribute to sustainability is through energy efficiency. By using sensors and other technologies to monitor energy usage in buildings and public spaces, cities can identify areas where energy is being wasted and take steps to reduce consumption.

Another way is waste reduction. By using sensors to monitor waste levels in bins and dumpsters, cities can optimize collection routes so that trucks are only sent out when necessary. This reduces fuel consumption and emissions while also reducing the amount of waste going into landfills.

Smart transportation systems are another key component of sustainable smart city development. By providing citizens with access to public transportation options such as buses or trains that run on clean energy sources like electricity or hydrogen fuel cells, cities can reduce traffic congestion and air pollution while also promoting healthier lifestyles by encouraging walking or cycling.

In addition to these practical applications of technology for sustainability purposes in a smart city context, there are many other ways in which technology could be used for good causes, such as improving healthcare services or education opportunities within urban areas.

Al-Sadhan commented: “Zain KSA has been championing green technologies for responsible business practices, complementing our role in advancing 5G connectivity across the Kingdom. Our collaboration with the Red Sea Project to build the world’s first zero-emission 5G network actively contributes to Saudi Vision 2030’s net-zero emissions target by 2060.”

In line with Atos’ views on smart city development, AWS is also driving renewable energy projects impacting local communities around the world, innovating in transport (with the first ever zero-emission capable cargo ship), and detailing progress on sustainability through their climate pledge and regular reporting. 

“At Amazon, we combine data and science with passion and invention to drive everything we do. We set big goals and work backwards to achieve them. We apply that same tenacity to how we address some of the world’s biggest environmental and societal challenges,” noted Najm.

AWS enables customers to build sustainability solutions ranging from carbon tracking to energy conservation to waste reduction, using AWS services to ingest, analyze, and manage sustainability data. “And we provide knowledge and tools for organizations of all sizes and across all sectors to build and implement solutions that meet their sustainability goals.” 

AWS is also focused on efficiency and continuous innovation across its global infrastructure, as it progresses towards powering operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025 (and is committed to achieving Amazon’s goal of net-zero carbon by 2040). As a result, AWS made the commitment to become water positive by 2030, with the intent to return more water to communities than what they use. 

“Overall, there's no doubt about it: Smart city development offers an exciting opportunity for creating more sustainable urban environments around the world,” expressed Veelenturf.

Generative AI: Data-Driven Sustainability

With the current hype globally, it is important to understand what generative AI is and how it can be used for sustainability. Generative AI refers to the use of machine learning algorithms that can create new content based on existing data. In the context of sustainability, this means using data from various sources such as sensors, satellites and social media platforms to generate insights that can inform decision-making.

Energy management: By analyzing data from smart meters and other sources, generative AI algorithms can identify patterns and trends in energy consumption that may not be immediately apparent to humans. This information can then be used by utilities and other stakeholders to optimize energy usage and reduce waste.

Supply chain management: By analyzing data from suppliers, manufacturers and logistics providers, generative AI algorithms could help identify inefficiencies in the supply chain that contribute to waste or emissions. This information could then be used by companies to make more sustainable decisions about sourcing materials or transporting goods.

Naturally, there are also potential risks associated with the use of generative AI for sustainability. One concern is that these algorithms may perpetuate biases or reinforce existing inequalities if they are trained on biased datasets or if their outputs are not carefully monitored. Additionally, there may be privacy concerns related to collecting large amounts of data from individuals without their consent.

“Despite these challenges, I believe that the integration of generative AI for data-driven sustainability has enormous potential for positive impact. By leveraging technology in innovative ways, we can gain new insights into complex environmental problems and develop more effective solutions than ever before. As we move forward into an increasingly digital future, it will be critical for organizations across sectors to embrace these technologies while also being mindful of their potential risks and limitations,” stated Veelenturf.

Building and Scaling Generative AI for Smart Cities

The use of AI in smart cities has become increasingly important as urban areas continue to grow and face new challenges. The first step in building a generative AI application for a smart city is understanding the needs of the community. Atos works closely with local governments and other stakeholders to identify areas where AI can make the biggest impact.

In the same context, AWS underscored that telecom operators monetizing their network assets with 5G connectivity and IoT solutions and related edge computing can extend their innovative solutions to meet the diverse needs of smart cities across various locations. Infusing this with new capabilities, such as machine learning and generative AI, brings new opportunities to Atos and Zain KSA. It also presents new service opportunities for smart city environments that public and business customers will benefit from. 

“When creating smart city solutions, building customized IoT solutions and manufacturing devices that address the unique challenges, demographics, and infrastructure needs of each city is essential,” according to Al-Sadhan. Being armed with the capabilities to enable customized IoT solutions for smart city applications can drive innovation and stimulate economic growth by ensuring the optimal use of resources in each city. Scalable applications also enhance sustainability by meeting environmental targets, such as efficient water usage in drought-prone areas. With more effective and human-centric services, these cities will ultimately enhance engagement and improve the quality of life of their residents.

Once these needs have been identified, Atos helps organizations collect and analyze data from various sources such as sensors, cameras, and social media feeds. This data is then used to train machine learning models that can make predictions or recommendations based on real-time information.

Traffic flow management: One example of a generative AI application that Atos has helped develop is a system that optimizes traffic flow in busy urban areas. By analyzing real-time traffic data from sensors placed throughout the city, this system can adjust traffic signals in real-time to reduce congestion and improve travel times.

Predictive maintenance system: Another example is a predictive maintenance system for public infrastructure, such as bridges or water treatment plants. By analyzing sensor data from these structures, machine learning models can predict when maintenance will be needed before any issues arise. This allows for more efficient usage of resources and reduces downtime due to unexpected failures.

Atos also helps organizations scale their generative AI applications by providing cloud-based platforms that allow for easy deployment across multiple locations. These platforms are designed with security in mind, ensuring that sensitive data always remains protected.

In addition to building and scaling generative AI applications, Atos also provides ongoing support through training programs and consulting services. This ensures that organizations can fully leverage the power of AI over time as new challenges arise.

“In conclusion, Atos is playing an important role in facilitating organizations' efforts towards creating more efficient and sustainable smart cities through generative AI applications. By working closely with local governments and other stakeholders, collecting relevant data sources, developing machine learning models, deploying them on secure cloud-based platforms and providing ongoing support services, Atos empowers its customers to achieve their goals while improving quality life standards,” affirmed Veelenturf.

Prioritizing Sustainable IT Practices

For Zain KSA, sustainability and environmental responsibility are key pillars of a broader ESG strategy that aligns with the national goals as well as the global sustainable development goals. We believe that responsible business practices today start with responsible connectivity, and that can only be achieved through collaborations with the right partners that share our same commitment to sustainability.”

As a global leader in digital services, Atos’ commitment to sustainable IT services is not just a trend; it’s a revolution that is reshaping the landscape of corporate responsibility and environmental conservation. “We understand the importance of reducing our carbon footprint, as the future of technology correlates with the future of the planet,” said Veelenturf.

With a holistic approach to sustainable IT services, Atos invests in renewable energy sources and optimizes its data centers. The company prioritizes sustainability in its data center operations and is committed to sourcing a considerable amount of its global electricity consumption from renewable sources.

Moreover, Atos is actively engaged in carbon offset programs, ensuring that the company’s net carbon emissions are not just reduced, but effectively neutralized. Integrating circular economy principles into its business model extends the lifespan of Atos’ IT equipment, reducing electronic waste and promoting responsible recycling.

Veelenturf emphasized that these sustainable IT practices are not only for them but for their customers as well. “By leveraging cutting-edge technology and innovative strategies, Atos is reducing its carbon footprint while simultaneously empowering businesses to do the same.”

With the support of AWS, Atos reduces the energy footprint of their computing, decarbonizes networks and increases sustainability and energy efficiency through the use of cloud-based data, highlighted Najm. Meanwhile, Zain KSA is utilizing AWS’ silicon innovation to reduce the energy footprint of their mobile cores and their radio access networks. 

Smart city environments can benefit from the reduced carbon and energy footprint of cloud-based solutions. They also provide the means to further improve sustainability of cities through the steering and management of resources based on the use of smart data.  

“Together, with our partners, such as Atos, we are bringing this innovation to telecom operators and to their customers using fast-paced innovation that we are really excited about,” concluded Najm.

"Zain KSA’s collaboration with market-leading partners serves our sustainability agenda which focuses on creating cutting-edge digital solutions that support the Kingdom’s transition to a circular economy that serves people and the planet,” Al-Sadhan added.

Without a doubt, Atos helps businesses optimize their IT infrastructure, reducing energy consumption and costs. In the supply chain management sector, the company works closely with suppliers who share the same commitment to sustainability and ethical business practices. This includes ensuring that suppliers comply with environmental regulations and reduce waste throughout the supply chain.

Overall, Atos focuses on developing and adopting cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, to optimize operations, coupled with education and awareness at the forefront of their efforts. 

Despite the common challenges many telecom providers face in enabling smart city initiatives, some of them, like Zain KSA, are successfully harnessing the opportunities, navigating these obstacles through collaboration with local governments and private sector partners who share similar goals towards building smarter communities. “Using technology innovations like 5G networks and IoT devices, Zain KSA will help improve quality of life for citizens, while also driving economic growth through new business models enabled by digital transformation,” noted Veelenturf.

Zain KSA's ethos of harnessing tech for sustainability and their cutting-edge 5G and 5G-advanced infrastructure position them as a driver of the Kingdom’s advancement toward a future-proof business ecosystem and a digital economy. “We believe in the transformative potential of technology in shaping sustainable, hyper-connected urban hubs in the Kingdom.”

Pin It