Smart Cities and Beyond: Alumni blog post by Wafic Naccash

As cities around the world are storming ahead to overcome conventional resources and enable hyper-connected infrastructure, recent graduate Wafic Naccash shares his thoughts on smart technology and the benefits it has to offer.

Mobility is the dragging force of today’s economy.

Globally, the plan is to leverage various tech infrastructures and existing cloud-based platforms and this has brought a change in conventional methods and infrastructure for developing smart cities.

Smart cities are built around a system which are composed of Information and Communication Technologies to develop, implement and promote sustainable development practices, to address growing urbanization challenges. Today, cities which were once built around resources have now merged into smart technological systems.

Having chosen the Digital Transformation specialization during my HEC Paris Executive MBA, this allowed me to delve deeper into the intricacies of smart city systems and piece together how AI, data and developing technology can all play a role in helping to create greener and more cost-efficient cities to the benefit of governments and their citizens.

A study published by United Nations predicts that by 2050, 68 percent of the world’s population will be living in cities. Hence, the change was inevitable as the conventional model has many concerns such as pollution, climate change, access to services, traffic congestion and accessibility.
The development of different technologies can help our world to overcome all such issues for the benefits of mankind. The hyper-connected smart cities can offer high quality living to all.

Smart Cities: Enabling Technologies

Wafic Naccash strongly believes in investing in Smart Cities for improving future urban environments.

Smart city technology is not a standalone system, rather it uses different systems and has IoT and cloud as backbone. IoT optimizes the resources and therefore encourages sound sustainable development.

Today, hosting the mission-critical resources on cloud is more vital than ever. Online traffic has surged which has created a clear need for resilient cloud infrastructure.

At the same time, across the globe, residential areas and cities are becoming more alive with the aid of sensors that capture data in real-time. By now, billions of smart devices relay data to the cloud and each other. The cloud-based IoT applications receive, analyze, and manage data in real-time to help municipalities, enterprises, and citizens in decision making.

Benefits of Smart City Technologies

Organizations are largely benefiting from the use of smart cities. Various smart applications are being used out there to fulfill areas of confidentiality, integration, and availability for its users across the globe.

The smart use of technology is facilitating people by providing real-time, accurate, and up to date information. Data is collected, stored, and analyzed, and even if it includes sensitive details of users, multiple security steps have been employed to prevent unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information.

The smart city also includes different management systems and the use of sensors has allowed companies to receive updated information more easily. In case of emergencies, the smart sensor alarm the users.

When it comes to traffic congestion, the smart use of technology allows users to pre-define and re-route to be on time, whenever needed. This flexibility is provided by the use of a GPS that helps to optimize the routes according to the pickup points, traffic, fleet availability, and road conditions.

Leveraging AI/ML and Big Data Analytics for Smart Cities

“Cyber attacks and data theft are considered to be a risk to these technologies, but the existing encryption techniques and security schemes still bring a promising future for this technology,” says Wafic Naccash.

In smart cities, large volumes of data are stored in the cloud. Leveraging technologies like AI and ML, big data can be very useful by analyzing the data thoroughly, generating reports, predicting patterns, and making arrangements accordingly. However, this data needs to be encrypted.

DDoS and Bot attacks are a high risk to today’s technology but with the use of smart prevention schemes, smart cities are reliable resources. The integration of a smart network of objects with blockchain technology allows all components and devices to be connected by the cryptographic trust chain and allows for accurate, safe, immutable exchanges of information between them. This prevents any malware activities thus ensuring the security and reliability of the transfer of information.

All these technologies work coherently to increase efficiency and reduce cost in city administration thus achieving the objective of a cleaner and safer environment.

Cyber attacks and data theft are considered to be a risk to these technologies, but the existing encryption techniques and security schemes still bring a promising future for this technology.

As a driver of digital transformation, my aim is to help companies to shift to more efficient and fail-proof systems, which is one of the reasons I chose the Digital Transformation specialization as I am fascinated by the different methods of implementing positive change.

I am excited to see the continuing development of smart cities as I can see how intelligent utilization of these technologies can have a positive impact for everyone.

Wafic Naccash is an expert in digital transformation and specializes in helping businesses to restructure programs across various business functions to enhance overall performance. Fascinated by the emerging tech industry, Wafic continues to apply his skills and expertise to help businesses smoothly transition to digitized systems. Wafic Naccash is currently based in Doha, Qatar where he completed his HEC Paris Executive MBA and works at Ernst & Young as a Senior Manager for Digital and Innovation.