Smart city initiative launched
The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has launched the “application of smart city concepts” initiative as one of the municipal transformation projects emanating from the National Transformation Program 2020 and the Vision 2030, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said. The initiative aims to enhance urban development in the Kingdom through the application of the smart city initiative to increase the level of satisfaction of people, boost competitiveness of cities and urban sustainability. The plan also calls for to improve efficiency of city management, minimize the negative environmental impact, attract local and foreign investments, and create job opportunities.
The initiative is targeting five Saudi cities by 2020 in gradual phases that are to be carried out in partnership with the private sector, the ministry said. Smart cities contain several components, including smart buildings, smart transport systems, smart security and safety services, parks equipped with smart communication systems (WiFi), smart rain and floods drainage networks, smart street lighting systems, quick emergency response system, and smart economy supportive of small, medium and big companies, among others. The ministry had earlier conducted a study project on the components of smart cities to implement smart and leading infrastructure projects aimed primarily to achieve higher levels of happiness and welfare for city dwellers.
The ministry is currently conducting a study to determine the preparedness of Saudi cities eligible to be transformed into smart cities based on the best global scientific practices and field studies. It said the field studies cover 17 major cities whose population makes up nearly 72 percent of the Kingdom’s total population. The study showed that there is disparity in the Kingdom’s cities preparedness to shift to smart cities, with Makkah coming in first, followed by Riyadh, Jeddah, Madinah and Ahsa. The ministry said it adopted five smart initiatives to apply the concept of smart cities, including smart parking, smart lighting systems, smart solid waste disposal, smart cameras and environment pollution monitoring tools.
It also said that it was cooperating with some global firms to implement an experimental model of the initiative in the city of Riyadh. The ministry stressed that it seeks to address some obstacles facing the application of the smart city program in the Kingdom through implementation of necessary procedures and policies.