The initiative will target five Saudi cities by 2020 in gradual phases that are to be carried out in partnership with the private sector, the ministry said.
The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has launched the initiative to apply smart city concepts as one of a series of municipal transformation projects emanating from the country’s National Transformation Program 2020 and the Vision 2030.
The idea is to bring together various ‘smart’ components, including buildings, transport systems, security and safety services, communication systems (WiFi), drainage networks, street lighting systems and an emergency response system.
A study is being carried out to determine the preparedness of Saudi cities eligible to be transformed into smart cities. The field studies cover 17 major cities whose population makes up nearly 72% of the country’s total population. There is currently disparity in the cities’ preparedness to shift to smart cities, with Makkah coming in first, followed by Riyadh, Jeddah, Madinah and Ahsa.
The ministry said it has adopted five smart initiatives to apply the concept of smart cities, including smart parking, smart lighting systems, smart solid waste disposal, smart cameras and environment pollution monitoring tools. It also said that it was cooperating with some global firms to implement an experimental model of the initiative in the city of Riyadh.
The initiative aims to enhance urban development to increase the level of satisfaction of people, boost competitiveness of cities and urban sustainability. The plan also calls for improved efficiency of city management, minimising negative environmental impacts, attracting local and foreign investments and create job opportunities.