Orange to build, manage smart city platform for key Saudi business district

Orange Business, the enterprise division of Orange, has signed a deal to tie together existing digital systems and internet-of-things (IoT) technologies in the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in the Al Aqeeq area of Riyadh, and wrap it up in new data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) services. The deal is with the KAFD Development & Management Company (KAFD DMC), which manages the mixed-use financial district in the Saudi capital.

Orange Business will assume the role of ‘master systems integrator’, in charge of existing and new ecosystem partners supplying technologies and services to KAFD. These will plug into its own ‘Orange Smart City Platform’, as the central hub for data orchestration in the district. The new platform will help KAFD to “optimise data and advance its smart city experience using new technologies”, said the France-based firm.

Its platform is compatible with a “wide range of systems and technologies”, and handles sundry data processing and management, including for “descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics, and governance”. Specifically, it is being lined up to manage “geolocation-based sentiment analysis of social media” – apparently to “analyse, collate, and share” data about such things as water supply, traffic conditions, and energy optimization in office buildings. 

The new platform will spin-up a digital twin of the district for architects and engineers to analyse “real-time data” to optimise building design; there is no mention in the press statement that any other digital twin simulations are on the cards. KAFD’s stated aim is to “create a high-quality urban environment” in line with the government’s Saudi Vision 2030 scheme to diversify and increase the kingdom’s economy, as well as its cultural and social conditions.

Gautam Sashittal, chief executive at KAFD DMC, said: “Increasing… urbanization across the world is set to uncover a $517 billion market for smart city solutions with an annual growth rate of 25 percent – a fact that plays into KAFD’s objectives of building a future-proof and business-friendly hub in Riyadh… Our partnership with Orange Business will further strengthen our drive to become a global pioneer in smart urban development.”

Sahem Azzam, senior vice president of Orange Business in the region, said: “[This] is a clear signal of our commitment to elevate the already world-class district to the next level of smart city evolution – [as a] cognitive city. This is driven by [data management]… and data analytics… as a basis for new use cases, revenue streams, and innovative services for the city’s population. It will also optimise city operations – making them better, faster, and safer.”

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