Smart Cities, Wearables, and Connecting Cities

Sarah Saleh, Contributor , Jun 21 2016

Introducing IoT and the Panel
IoT has evolved quite a bit – there is much hype going on about wearables today, and moving towards healthy lifestyles. According to Raph Crouan, Managing Director and Founder at Startupbootcamp (IoT London), the IoT Landscape started in 2013, via people such as Matt Turck, a VC in Europe. Raph also said that the key apps making a difference today are the ones focusing on verticals: “IoT is big in healthcare now, and we have access to cheaper and cheaper gadgets.”  

This was said during the ArabNet Digital Summit 2016, which featured a very interesting panel about IoT and Smart Cities, moderated by Youssef Khalili, Senior Partner, Smart City Practice / Head of UAE Government Sector at neXgen advisory group. The panel featured Raph Crouan mentioned above, as well as Colonel Khalid Nasser Alrazooqi, General Director of Smart Services Department at the Dubai Police General Head Quarters. Colonel Khalid has implemented strategic projects such as UAE E-Passports, Smart E-Gates, Kiosk Machines, Mobile Visa, Online Services, Integration services with partners, Facial and IRIS recognition systems, API, and PNR.

Col. Khalid had much to share regarding the government’s move towards IoT, as well as its integration, and building of a standard sensor on top of IoT, available to everyone including the private sector. He spoke of Dubai’s launching of the open data law, the classifying process and the exchange of data across sectors.

Products & Props
Raph made a comment about how people have great ideas, but that execution is the difficult part. It takes a lot of effort and commitment for physical devices to come to life. IoT has brought back hardware to the scene, which includes hardware makers, makerlabs, fastlabs, 3D printers, key sensors and so on! The next phase would be to integrate it. “Everyone knows that the value is not hardware itself but the data that comes out and the analytics.” Many have tons of data, but what matters is making sense of that data; the product lifecycle must include this.

As for props, Dubai Police is apparently the first government in the world to use Google Glass in order to control careless driving and issue tickets on the spot. A picture of the violation is taken straight and sent to the traffic system; it is a simple process with huge effects on the law. Unfortunately, Google Glass stopped being manufactured, and so they started using other wearable devices. With security, the most important aspect is to provide a service on the spot, in the shortest time. Colonel Khalid gave the example of a speedy response, describing how one could press an SOS button on their wearable, which would help locate and reach them within minutes. Blind people may shake the phone instead.

In case of an accident between two cars, one can take a Snapchat of the accident and send it through the app. This would help police officers as well as the general population quite a lot, especially in saving time. The Dubai police has won many awards for its integration of technology, helping make Dubai into a smart city.

What’s In?
Raph believes that the fitness era is done – “the Chinese are producing for $12!” So we look at how to go further, integrating different industry types. People are currently working on integrating into AI devices, to give an extra smartness and allow for further data to be processed. Emerging technology includes Bitcoin / Blockchain integrating IoT. These two trends are coming through.

The use of robotics in both the industrial sector as well as safety has picked up. When asked about Artificial Intelligence at the Dubai Police, Colonel Khalid said that the plan is to continue working on robotics, to be presented by 2020, as Dubai hosts the World Expo. They do have a machine at this point, as well as a software, and an intelligent IoT. They are currently working on phase 1, while they have already previously introduced a robot during GITEX. They are looking to integrate such technology in order to reduce the time and effort spent by the Police – there is a plan to implement this by 2020.

IoT Adoption
When speaking of adoption of IoT, Raph said that most people’s span is quite short, as they behave like children; most are early adopters. Technology is evolving so fast that it becomes hard to maintain a specific technology for more than a year and a half. “How to build a sustainable solution, which has impact, software, hardware integration, and on top of it all analytics?” he asked, adding that gamification has an element of sustainability.

To tell you a bit about Raph’s background… an angel investor/advisor to various startups, he is a Founding Board Member & Chair for the SMEs in the AIOTI at the European Commission, and MakerWharf, a community of Maker Spaces between London/Palo Alto & China, as well as the French IoT Think Tank, and the newly announced UK French Tech Hub; Raph knows quite a bit about IoT.

Regulatory Framework
In Europe, there is a centralized way to certify said Raph, “there are companies specialized in certification.” Depending on what one is trying to certify, regulations change, and approval may take between 6 to 8 months.

As for Colonel Khalid, he spoke of Dubai Police’s involvement with the city to create laws that regulate privacy as well as tracking people. In the end, the technology will be available to everyone, the choice is theirs whether they wish to use it or not, whether they enable or disable tracking. The aim is to have laws that regulate the use of wearable devices and how they integrate with each other. He continued saying that they at the moment have over 150 services on the mobile app, one of which can be used by citizens to upload any picture that may help police provide better security. He said that they are receiving many pictures as well as information that help in solving cases.

Moving into the Future
Youssef made a joke, saying that he has contributed by taking a picture of a motorcyclist who was breaking a law, to which Colonel Khalid wittingly replied that he should be fined for taking a picture while driving! Youssef then asked how can such a service be protective of those whose photos are taken, “does it not violate their rights?” To which Colonel Khalid replied that there are instructions on how to take the picture, “we have a law and everyone should know about it.” Time will make it a habit.

“Know where you want to be, and which regulations to follow. Know ahead of time, to enter a new market.” Those were Raph’s last words as he ended the panel. It is not one size fits all.

He said that many conversations turn around privacy these days, that we tend to see people embedded, they even call themselves cyborgs!

One thing’s for sure – this is but the beginning, and more is yet to come.



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