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March 3, 2017

Doha deal could herald a smart cities gold rush

By GlobalData Technology

Orange Business Services’ has landed a multimillion dollar consulting deal with Qatari services provider Meeza for smart cities software in Doha.

The deal comes at a watershed moment for the delivery of holistic smart cities tech and should help major suppliers commit.

Orange will oversee the design of the Msheireb district’s Smart City Central Command Center, controlling everything from street lighting and automated waste collection, to security cameras, fire alarms, and public announcements.

Up until now most smart cities tech deals have focused either on specific problems with strong business cases — like smart street lighting — or have been run as (typically) small, time-limited pilots.

Neither has held strong appeal to larger suppliers with diverse interests and a need to generate worthwhile revenue. That’s changing, however.

Francois Duquesnoy, director of urban services for Orange, said he expects the Doha deal to be the first of many the company announces that embrace the breadth of smart cities tech at scale, with others in the pipeline in both the Middle East and France.

“Smart Cities is still an emerging market but RFPs, RFPs and projects are now coming in. [It’s] now more in the roll out phase and less in the hype stage,” Duquesnoy told GlobalData.

Duquesnoy puts this change down to a recognition by city decision makers that tech is as important to urban infrastructure investment as construction and urban renewal.

Decision makers have also recognised that holistic smart city tech has matured.

Orange has positioned itself well to tackle the opportunities ahead by partnering with local providers.

“Usually Orange equals telecoms,” said Duquesnoy. “But that’s not where the most exciting piece of smart cities is. Our target is create new value from IoT, network and existing data that can be acted on in a real-time environment.”

Msheireb Downtown Doha is a regeneration project stretching over 800,000 square meters at the traditional center of Doha and covering residential, commercial offices, retail outlets and hotels.

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