Msheireb Properties is adopting an ‘autonomous vehicle’ concept, “which can be used in many ways especially in delivery services Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD), without the need for a driver,” a top official said on Tuesday.

“Further tests are being conducted on this vehicle in our city, Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD), and once they are completed, the vehicle will serve residents and tenants,” Msheireb Properties acting CEO engineer Ali al-Kuwari told a first-of-its-kind virtual conference.

The ‘Doha Smart Cities Summit,’ brought together local, regional and international innovators and experts to discuss the vital role of smart cities in tackling various challenges, especially during a pandemic.

The event organised by Msheireb Properties, also hosted representatives and leaders from leading smart cities such as Amsterdam, Moscow, and Singapore, in addition to holding a number of panel discussions.

“Undoubtedly, smart cities are no longer a matter of choice but rather a global trend adopted by countries and corporations to cope with the new demands whether for individuals, companies, or government entities. Since the Corona pandemic still has an impact on various aspects of our life, we need to collaborate to find a suitable framework to face future challenges and develop appropriate solutions,” said engineer Ali al-Kuwari.

“Since its inception, Msheireb Properties took the responsibility of building a fully sustainable and smart city which is Msheireb Downtown Doha, one of the smartest and most sustainable cities in Qatar and the world,” he said.

Al-Kuwari highlighted the importance of raising awareness of smart cities, promoting sustainability to the new generation, and encouraging companies to adopt these trends that will benefit countries and communities by providing innovative solutions particularly during a crisis.

He noted that smart cities proved to be highly capable of meeting individual and company needs much better than conventional cities in the fields of remote learning, working from home and delivering services that rely on robots or unmanned equipment.

Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) assistant undersecretary Reem Mohammed al-Mansoori underscored the importance of digital transformation in building smart cities, saying it is on top of government agenda around the world.

“Countries are prioritising the use of emerging technologies and innovation to develop their cities and make them smarter. The unprecedented challenges brought to the world by the Covid-19 pandemic forced many countries and organisations to accelerate the implementation of their digital strategies,” she said.

“It demonstrated to the world just how important technology is in our day-to-day lives, thanks to our wise leadership Qatar realised more than a decade ago the need to achieve a comprehensive national digital transformation,” al-Mansoori added.

She cited MoTC’s launch of the Tasmu Smart Qatar Programme, which is harnessing advanced technology and innovation aimed at delivering smart solutions and applications across five priority sectors: transport, healthcare, logistics, environment, and sports.

Al-Mansoori said working with government entities and private companies is essential to building a smart society. “That is what we are doing at MoTC through the Tasmu Smart Qatar Programme. We are working with government entities, entrepreneurs, multinational companies, research and academic institutes to create tangible applications that are contextual and relevant to Qatar’s current and future challenges.”

“One example was awarding a consortium of leading global technology providers where Ooredoo is the main partner, the Tasmu Central Platform which is the foundation of the Tasmu Smart Qatar Programme. The Central Platform connects all projects and sectors to activate integrated smart solutions and applications that meet the requirements and standards of all sectors,” she explained.

Al-Mansoori described the Tasmu Central Platform as a one-of-a-kind smart city solution with best-in-class date capabilities such as date ingestion, processing, integration, and visualisation.

Supported by a strong data government model, she said the platform will help empower cross-sector collaboration and orchestrate dynamic data sharing. “Thus, providing a vital innovative system that supports and promotes entrepreneurship in various digital fields.”

Tasmu is one of the many partnerships, projects, and innovative smart solutions that will contribute to Qatar’s transformation into a smart country in the near future, according to the official.

“For example, this year, to help reduce the strain on our healthcare facilities during Covid-19 pandemic, we accelerated the implementation of one of four existing smart solutions in the healthcare sector. In collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) we launched virtual consultation services at Primary Health Care Corporation, Hamad Medical Corporation, and Sidra Medicine,” she said.

“This nation-wide collaboration was fast-tracked to ensure that the community is empowered to curb the spread of the pandemic and access medical advice and diagnosis from the safety of their homes,” al-Mansoori said, adding that MoTC and MoPH also launched Ehteraz.

“The Ministry’s human-centric approach ensures that smart technologies developed through Tasmu programme are successfully adopted in our society. As we work on making our goals a reality, collaboration between different stakeholders will ensure success,” she stressed.

Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary-general, Supreme Committee For Delivery & Legacy (SC), cited the close connection between sustainability and legacy particularly in the preparations for the prestigious 2022 tournament.

“We continue our work to host the first version of the World Cup that is eco-friendly as far as carbon emissions are concerned. Our goal behind designing stadiums and their surrounding areas is not limited to hosting matches over 28 days only,” he said.

Al-Thawadi noted that SC adheres to environmental sustainability and practices by using local and recycled building materials, enhancing water and energy efficiency, and ensuring the preservation of plants and wildlife in the areas of stadiums and tournament facilities.

“Through these efforts and some others we aim to set new global standards in terms of sustainability aspects during preparations to host major events and this is harmonised with the wonderful initiatives and valuable efforts of Msheireb, Qatar Foundation, and other local institutions and bodies to build a legacy of sustainability in all aspects of life in Qatar,” he pointed out.

Vodafone Qatar CEO Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah al-Thani underlined the significant contribution of smart cities in solving some of the challenges the world is facing, including the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The transformation to smart cities is no longer a luxury but a necessity that is required to solve some of the greatest challenges the world is facing. It was clear how smart cities were able to quickly and efficiently respond to fighting this virus, whether they were fully or semi-integrated smart cities in terms of their smart features,” he said.

Citing an example, Sheikh Hamad said the sensor network used in some smart cities around the world played a role in restraining the spread of the virus.

“This was done through processing algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) applications that helped authorities set plans in place to restrict crowds gathering and trace suspect Covid-19 cases,” he noted.

“From an economic perspective, not only these technologies drive innovation and competitiveness, they are critical in the efforts to ensure cities can remain alive and functional. They will be critical to how the world adapts as we rebuild our economies to find more sustainable, efficient ways for us to work, manage our economies, and continue to create dynamic urban environments,” Sheikh Hamad said.

Vodafone Qatar, he noted, invested heavily in building the foundation of a smart digital city that enables integration, analysis, and sharing data and part of these investments include a 5G network.

“Vodafone Qatar was one of the first to launch a 5G network, which has a deep impact on how we live and work in Qatar. Vodafone Qatar partnership with Msheireb Downtown Doha reflects our commitment to accelerating Qatar's journey towards becoming one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world,” he added.

A number of topics were also tackled at the summit, including how smart cities around the world such as Amsterdam and Singapore address the challenges of the (Covid-19) pandemic. Amsterdam Smart City programme director Leonie van den Beuken and Singapore’s Land Transport Authority principle engineer Tan Puay Hong shared the experience of the two cities with the audience.

Experts also discussed the importance of cybersecurity, mobility and autonomous vehicles, innovation and sustainability, and Smart City readiness in the face of a pandemic.

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