IOT World Forum: Dubai can be world's smartest city in 3 years

Ahmad Julfar, Chief Executive Officer of Etisalat Group, addressing the Internet of Things (IOT) World Forum being held in Dubai on Sunday (Supplied)

Dubai is all set to attain the status of being one of the smartest cities in the world in the next three years, according to experts at the Cisco Internet of Things (IOT) World Forum being held in Dubai.

As humans become things - connecting themselves to big data, robots are being developed and being made to be more human like. Revolutionary changes are transforming the way society functions and these changes are happening fast. While IOT is changing the way society moves forward, experts gathered at the forum feel that much more can be done in managing the rampant urbanisation, environmental problems and healthcare.

To put the growth of IOT in numbers, we could witness 40 to 80 billion connected objects by 2020. Smartphone is going to become the central connecting hub to various devices even as every human beings will be connected to ten different objects.

Analysts estimate that the revenue potential in IOT is between $1.2 trillion to $13.3 trillion and the most significant investments will go into civic management, healthcare, education etc.

"With the number of older people increasing, elderly care will become a crucial requirement. Home will become a connected care house," says Inbar Lasser-Raab, Vice President of Infrastructure and Digital Solutions Marketing, Cisco.

Dubai is marching ahead in its quest to keep pace with the latest technological advancements, and the momentum created by various public and private organisartions towards creating smart solutions and integrating Internet of Things (IOT) in our daily lives, be the Dubai Police, the Dubai Municipality or the Roads and Transport Authority, has made the emirate a key contender to march ahead of the rest of the world cities.

Speaking during the Keynote sessions at the IOT World Forum that is jointly hosted by Dubai Media Office, Anil Menon, Global head of Cisco's Smart+Connected Communities Business said that Dubai would go on to achieve the status and attributed this to the visionary leadership in the emirate.

Comparing Dubai to how it was just 30 years ago he said, "We have witnessed a massive development during the past years and within a short span of time. At the pace at which the emirate is moving forward I won't be surprised if Dubai goes on to become the smartest city in the world in the next three years," he said.

Referring to various initiatives including the $300 billion set aside for the development of technology and science he said, IOT could be the answer to many of our global problems including reducing poverty, healthcare and rampant urbanisation.

As Etisalat CEO Ahmad Zulfar put it, the idea is to improve the quality of life and quality of business. "It is ultimately about people being happy. We are not doing it for the sake of technology but for the sake of people," he said stressing the point that telecom providers would play a crucial role in this development.

What we have in the UAE today is the highest penetration of 4G and the next level is to expand into the IOT sphere. We need to scale it up and we will be doing it in partnerships.

According to him, within Mena alone cellular connection will increase 500 per cent, while IOT devices is set to go up from 12 billion to 50 billion in five years.

Commenting on the role of operators like Etisalat and du, he said: "We are part of a big value chain. We are seen as trusted partners, enabling the government and various other stakeholders to move towards a truly connected world.”

Indicating the structure of things to come he said, very soon pockets with multiple operators will cease to exist. It could soon become a market of two or maximum three operators in every cluster.

"Telecom sector needs to restructure. In the future, a market with five, six or seven operators will not be sustainable. There could be a maximum of 2 or 3 operator per market," he said adding that operators could go on to acquire IOT firms or it could even be vice versa.

"There will be a rise of 5 to 10 global operators, 20 to 50 regional operators and 50 to 100 local operators," he added.