The digital transformation of cities entails daunting short-term and long-term choices for service deployments that are consistent with the current and future capabilities of software-driven networks, IOT platforms and data analytics. Software-defined networks play a crucial role in the data flow, network management and the execution of the services.
In Part I of this Q&A, Telco Transformation spoke to Orange Business Services' Fadi Shanaah, regional business development director of the Middle East Area, about how his company optimizes the multiple pieces in the design and execution of smart cities strategies aided by SDN.
In the second installment Shanaah talks about Datavenue, which Orange is using for IoT analytics.
Orange Business Services is an arm of Orange S.A. and specializes in integration of applications, networks, data flows and network management. It has undertaken long-term projects for smart city developments in the Middle East.
Telco Transformation: Smart cities have different verticals and technologies to address including smart lighting, energy conservation, flood control, traffic management and parking and telehealth. The technologies range from software-defined networks, IOT, cognitive intelligence, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Of these, which are the most mature and have a high probability of success? In your experience, how have the successful smart cities prioritized their short-term and long-term goals?
Fadi Shanaah: The first priority for each smart city is to design and build the ICT/IT infrastructure for supporting IP connectivity via fiber or 4G/5G. This includes IoT actuators/sensors and wireless sensor networks (WSNs), which will then power smart services, such as smart lighting, smart metering, smart parking and smart connected homes. All this data and services are aggregated and collected into data centers. To minimize the total cost of ownership in hosting this data, software-defined networks (SDN) can be applied.
SDN is a new emerging technology for data center architecture. All the network resources -- such as network management, configuration and routing-- are implemented through a unified SDN control plane reducing the cost of the hardware and storage. This will make the huge volume of data generated by the sensors much more manageable.
Taking a long-term view, we see lots of potential in open data; using advanced technologies such as big data, analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning for taking apart this data and putting the insights from it to good use in enhancing the quality of service.
TT: How has your approach to city data sharing, platforms, developers and startups evolved to achieve your goals of deploying smart city applications?
FS: The Orange Business Services approach is based on technology and business innovation that addresses 360-degree smart city requirements. This model allows us to cement a practical vision and objective for building a smart city. Our role is as the smart city "master systems Integrator," which is a specialized technology contractor with the capabilities to handle the design, procurement, implementation, integration, operation and maintenance and innovation phases of deploying ICT digital services within a smart city.
We prepare a conceptual framework based on the requirements gathered during our customer meetings with stakeholders, best practices and our previous experience with smart cities worldwide. The framework that is put together will offer smart ICT services and business proposals taking into account the following elements: safe city, smart environment, smart mobility, smart living, smart people and smart government.
We have a delivery approach consisting of four principles: time, quality, monetization and on-site presence.
Operation and maintenance is in our DNA as a global telco. Our lengthy history and experience in operations ensures that we can deliver a working model model for the run phase of a smart city, which also includes the MSI (multi-sourcing service Integrator) ICT service desk.
TT: Do you examples of how it all works?
FS: As an example, Orange is supporting the Msheireb Downtown Doha district in Qatar with the digital refurbishment of all the buildings and infrastructure in its city center. It is supervising the design of the primary smart city control center, which is responsible for controlling the operation of buildings and services, such as video surveillance, building access control, alarms, street lighting, automatic waste collection, parking lots and public display systems.
Orange has also developed applications for users in the areas of public services, online payment, energy and navigation.
An innovation ecosystem is vital in keeping cities "smart" on an ongoing basis. Orange Business Services’ smart cities initiatives include globally spread R&D centers, labs and acceleration programs; and we work closely with governments, other telco operators and startups to keep fueling cities with new ideas and meaningful smart services.
Here's another example. A few months back, Orange partnered with Dubai Smart Government, Du, Dubai Silicon Oasis and Startupbootcamp to launch the Dubai Smart City Accelerator, which is the first project of its kind in the MENA region. This intensive program provides 10 selected smart city companies with hands-on mentorship from over 100 industry experts, as well as office space in Dubai, seed funding and access to a global network of investors and corporate partners from across the smart city industry.
— Kishore Jethanandani, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation