Smart Cities, Smart Societies, Smart Enterprises

By Rhoda Omenya
  Published 24 Oct 2012
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AITEC East Africa Summit - Day 1
Kenya, and increasingly the rest of East Africa, now has the ICT infrastructure and services in place to be a world-class provider of IT-enabled services.
The AITEC East Africa ICT Summit 2012 , 24th and 25th October at the Oshwal Centre in Nairobi; provides the platform to achieve this vision through a multi-faceted event that will draw together the many strands of a vibrant growth market, underpinning high-level business-to-business services with widespread consumer engagement in modern mobile applications and electronics.
This is both a business and a consumer event – to fast-track East Africa’s emergence as a world-class information-based economic region.
Smart cities >Smart Societies > Smart Enterprises
From all the talks given on smart cities, certain key aspects remain vital if ever African cities are to evolve into smart cities: Data. Any decision towards making a city smart has to be made on a sound foundation that is based on facts. Facts about a city can only arise from deliberate and consistent collection of data by its leaders. No data is too big or too small to collect. In Singapore, there are sensitive meters showing how many cars each parking areas can carry. In Dubai, at their airport, they collect data on the incoming flights. We shall revisit these two examples. . . So for African cities, we have the data in some cases but for most metrics, leaders have to begin to collect the data. This data is irrelevant if it is not; Released. All the data that governments collects e.g. the census are usually for government eyes only which means that only the leaders use it to impose their decisions on the citizens or worse still, it ends up gathering dust on some shelves or lying forgotten in some hard drives. As Kenya, we have not been left out as we have also joined the bandwagon by having our own Open Data initiative. Therefore, the government needs to release this data to its citizens because it is the only way that it will; Engaging with its citizens. It is to a government’s benefit that its citizens are fully aware of the actual status of matters concerning their cities. When a city’s leaders release their data, it serves as goodwill on their part and encourages the citizens to give their opinions. These engagements provide a wealth of resources in the form of feedback that is necessary for a city or nation to forge ahead. With the advent of social media, the government and its leaders are spoilt for choice when it comes to methods of communicating with its citizens. Finally, all the above comes to naught if the leaders do not; Use the information. Drawing from the two examples in Singapore and Dubai; Singapore has used the metered information to create systems that are sensitive to the cars such that as the parking lots get filled, the meter responds accordingly. Contrast that with Kenya where motorists burn fuel looking for free parking. In Dubai, they have used the data on incoming flights giving people that will be coming into the city thus allowing them to estimate the number of taxis they will need to send to the airport. [gallery order="DESC" columns="1"] Suffice to say from the above, attaining the title smart city has reduced from being mythical to feasible. However it is of essence to note too that a smart city is not a destination but a journey that everyone in a city has to take. It was on that encouraging note that the rest of the day proceeded with sessions and panel discussions split into topics ranging from cloud computing to data and information security given by experts from Deloitte, Cisco, and Silensec, among others. Day 1 Key Talks Summary: Sean Moroney, the Chairman of AITEC Africa welcomed the delegates in the opening plenary session and also invited the guest speakers. Paul Kukubo, the Chief Executive of the ICT Board opened the session by congratulating AITEC on their 25th anniversary. He then spoke aboutKonza City. Lynn Reyes, the Smarter Cities Business Development Manager,IBMMiddle East and Africa; then shared on her vision on how cities in Africa can seize the moment towards becoming smart. Eric Osiakwan, the Director ofGhana Cyber Cityspoke on Africa needing to move to the next frontier from consuming technology to inventing technology. The vision behindTatu City was given by Ashley Holman, Tatu City’s Deputy Head of Urban, Planning and Management. The keynote speech was Shaun Hathrill, the Channel Sales Manager: Enterprise, East and Central Africa, Research in Motion, Kenya; who spoke about Blackberry 10 which will be Blackberry’s third new mobile computing platform.

The discussions continue today . . . Day 2!

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