The Internet of Things The "Next Industrial Revolution" is right around the corner in the form of the Internet of Things. The IoT concept envisages a technological future dominated by connected devices - billions (maybe even trillions) of everyday items around us will soon be connected to the internet, allowing large amounts of data to be collected, stored in cloud platforms and shared amongst numerous parties. IoT projects have the potential to permeate every corner of society - ranging from consumer-focused initiatives like smart home devices (think: connected toasters, fridges, washing machines etc.) and wearable tech, right the way up to more complex citizen-centric projects such as smart cities, buildings, transport and energy systems. The International Data Center estimates a worldwide IoT market of $1.7 trillion by 2020 and a Middle East and Africa spend of more than $6.6 billion by the end of this year (2017). This represents an intriguing new era for business and consumer demand, with technological innovation at the core. The UAE's 'Smart City' Initiative Within the GCC, Dubai has led the way on the IoT front since announcing its 'Smart Dubai' initiative back in March 2014 - a vision to make Dubai the smartest (and "happiest") city in the world by 2017. The project involves using smart sensors and devices across three key areas: Smart Life (governing health, education, transport, communications, public utilities, energy services etc.); Smart Economy (dealing with developing smart companies, smart port services, smart stock exchanges, smart jobs etc.); and Smart Tourism (concerned with providing a smart and convenient environment for tourists, such as visa, flight, smart gate and smart hotel services). What IoT technologies has the Smart City initiative prompted? The UAE is considered the regional 'eGovernment' leader. Dubai recently announced its Mobile Government initiative, aimed at transforming the ruling body into a truly "smart government" which actively facilitates a range of smart services. Back in 2015, du (one of the two government-owned telecoms providers in the UAE) successfully tested a new breed of 'sensor-friendly network' to establish a smart city ecosystem. The new network enables smarter management of a vast array of resources such as smart street lighting, waste management, road maintenance and parking. 2 Dubai boasts an integrated transportation system, which uses intelligent smart cards that can be used across multiple modes of transport. The Emirate has integrated smart gate functionality into national ID cards and intends for these ID cards to grant residents access to a great number of additional services in future. The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority has commenced a five year project to implement 250,000 smart meters across the Emirate. The financial industry is at the heart of national IoT strategy and is considered an innovation priority. Cash has historically reigned supreme in the UAE but with mass digital and smartphone penetration in recent years digital payment systems are gaining traction (this prompted the Central Bank to issue the UAE's first legislation regulating e-payments in January 2017). In the education sector, schools are now using digital chalkboards, tablets and cloud services to give teachers access to live, real-world data for a more interactive and practical student experience. The UAE healthcare sector is expected to reach almost $20 billion in aggregate value by 2020. IoT and cloud technology are expected to play a big part in this expansion, most notably to track patient information, organise data, facilitate smart-card systems and connect medical devices such as heart-rate monitors. How might the influx of IoT benefit the UAE? IoT solutions result in what is known as the "democratisation" of data. In this sense, the influx of IoT has the potential to allow Dubai citizens to access a wider range of information, make more informed decisions, and ultimately increase their civic engagement. A central purpose behind IoT is enabling productivity, so these new initiatives are also likely to streamline certain processes and build towards a more productive society. IoT is likely to push innovation to the forefront of commercial strategy. The potential for a massive network of connected devices to allow corporations to understand, target and better serve their customers means the market will require increasingly intelligent industry solutions. The UAE government has an opportunity to play the role of facilitator in terms of policy and regulation, and in providing the right environment for innovation to flourish. Likewise, an increased focus on cloud computing and IoT will enable the government to streamline data collection and analytics, which (if widely shared) may help national industries to compete on a global level. However, whether IoT and Smart City will truly clear the pathway for citizens of Dubai to become the "happiest" people on Earth, we will have to wait and see. For more information, please contact Jayshree Gupta or Jonathan Shaw.