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MADINAH: Local and international technology leaders, experts and companies gathered this week for the first Smart Madinah Forum, where they discussed, shared and exchanged knowledge and experiences on smart cities.

The focus of the two-day event, held on February 6-7 and organized by the Al-Madinah Region Development Authority under the patronage of Prince Saud bin Khalid Al-Faisal, Deputy -governor of Medina, was to explore ways to ensure that Medina is one of the three most livable cities in Saudi Arabia.

Specific goals that were discussed included increasing its annual economic growth by 3% and reducing unemployment by 5% by 2030 as part of efforts to turn it into one of the most tranquil cities yet. dynamics of the world through the use of technology and innovation.

The forum discussed a number of improvements that could help achieve these goals, including the development of 5G and fiber optic networks, improved communications and information technology infrastructure, and smart technology solutions.

Examining what we really mean by the term “smart city”, Jonathan Reichental, the founder of Human Future, a global business and technology consulting, investment and education firm, said: “I often privileged to travel to many cities around the world to speak to leaders, mayors and managers of their smart cities – and I hear many different answers to this question.

“One of the conclusions I have come to is that the definition is not as important as the results. The definition is not as important as what we are trying to achieve. And each community, each city has a different goal. That’s another idea.

“There is no recipe that every city can follow and get the same results because every city has different demographics, different geography, different resources, different capabilities – significant differences. But I know one thing, which is clear: it’s a subject about people.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The focus of the two-day event, held on February 6-7 and organized by the Al-Madinah Region Development Authority under the patronage of Prince Saud bin Khalid Al-Faisal, Deputy -governor of Medina, was to explore ways to ensure that Medina is one of the three most livable cities in Saudi Arabia.

  • The forum discussed a number of improvements that could help achieve these goals, including the development of 5G and fiber optic networks, improved communications and information technology infrastructure, and smart technology solutions.

Under the title “Where Technology Meets Tranquility”, the forum featured three panel discussions and several presentations featuring 12 renowned national and international speakers who explored Medina’s strategy to become a smart city and identified six development sectors : tourism, environment, business, old quarters. , well-being and mobility. Around 148 participants took part in six workshops which generated around 500 ideas, on the basis of which they prepared case studies to develop each sector.

“We conducted several workshops and involved key stakeholders, including residents themselves, and identified the challenges facing the city; we have categorized them into six priority sectors,” Abdulrahman Ibrahim, head of data analytics and innovation at the Al-Madinah Region Development Authority, told Arab News.

“The strategy and objectives of the smart Madinah program are strongly human-centered and residents must help highlight challenges and find the right technological solutions.”

Transportation is one of the main challenges facing the city. Therefore, one of the main priority sectors of the smart city strategy of Medina is mobility.

Abdulrahman Ibrahim, Head of Data Analytics and Innovation at Al-Madinah Region Development Authority

Medina is a popular destination for Muslims around the world and the heavy traffic in the city is a major problem for commuters and civic organizations.

“Transportation is one of the main challenges facing the city,” Ibrahim said. “Therefore, one of the main priority sectors of Medina’s smart city strategy is mobility. This challenge will be addressed in this strategic priority and we have a group of case studies that we want to implement using technology as a means to solve this challenge.

The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority is exploring ways to create a smart country and has established two innovation labs which it says are key to developing artificial intelligence solutions.

“The SDAIA focuses on smart cities, strongly based on the guidelines of the chairman of the board, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” said Nasser Al-Rayes, deputy director general of the authority.

“We have been working with our colleagues in the Madinah Authority since the beginning of the development of this strategy, so this is not a one-time meeting. Now it’s multiple workshops and multiple engagements to make sure whatever they’re aspiring to is definitely aligned with national guidance and more importantly it’s aligned with the data and AI agenda that SDAIA leads.

During the forum, experts also discussed smart city issues under the title “All for one and one for all”.

Lakshita Wijerathne, chief operating officer of technology company Eutech, said: “To help a smart city platform meet your needs, a key element is when you have so many sensors… you have your visitors, your residents, your citizens… so the platform will be able to collect and analyze large volumes of data. This will therefore give you valuable information related to understanding your situational awareness.

The second Smart Madinah Forum is expected to take place in February 2023.