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Smart cities will be driven by needs of Oman’s residents

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Smart cities in Oman will be driven by the needs of residents of the country, according to officials at the Smart City seminar held yesterday. Based on the concept of sustainability, efficiency and economics, smart cities are tipped to drive high standards of living in the Sultanate. However, in contrast to a technologically driven industry, Omani society is likely to embrace the concept of smart cities through consumer demand. “Smart cities should and will be driven by what the citizens need,” Dr. Ali Al Shidhani, director of research centres and ICT at The Research Council, said.

“We are in the early planning stages of the pilot project with various government entities, including the Supreme Council for Planning and the Muscat Municipality to transform the historic city of Muttrah. This is where people require smarter applications to improve their standard of living,” he said, announcing details of the Smart City platform.

The Smart City platform is an online networking stage where various entities, including researchers, academicians, and government organisations can come together to suggest the best possible methods to develop the Muttrah district. According to Al Shidhani, the platform will grow and branch out to develop other cities, such as Duqm and Sohar, where there is a demand for smart services. “A smart city is about people, their lives and how it can be improved. We can use cameras to stream traffic and find out what is the fastest route to a place. This is an example of technology complementing human requirements. This is what smart cities are all about, to improve one’s standards of living. At Microsoft, we are very well versed with this and have some excellent solutions that can be used in Oman,” Ahmed Raffat, technology strategist at Microsoft, said.

Oman is no stranger to smart services, with the ITA taking major strides in changing manual processes to electronic procedures through smart applications. Newly developing cities, such as Madinat Al Irfan, are smartly designed to reduce energy consumption with a window for further improvements. However, districts like Muttrah have an already existing physical infrastructure and a large population presents a more challenging scenario for experts. Solutions, such as smart traffic management, parking, and better resident connectivity are all being considered for Muttrah.

“I think the idea to develop a place like Muttrah into a smart city is excellent because it is very hard and people need these services there. If we can do it there, we can build a platform anywhere,” Raffat explained.

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