By TBY | Qatar | Feb 07, 2023
The MoTC and private tech companies are setting the stage for the realization of National Vision 2030.
Several years ago, the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) launched the Smart Qatar initiative, commonly known as TASMU, as a vehicle toward achieving the goals specified in Qatar National Vision 2030. The initiative specifically focuses on the implementation of smart cities and “will work on empowering the Smart Qatar Vision by using the developed infrastructure to provide a smart lifestyle for citizens, residents, visitors, and companies in the State of Qatar,” according to a press release by MoTC.
TASMU is supposed to bring together most major players in Qatar’s IT and ICT market in a synergic manner to pave the way for the birth of smart cities in the peninsula. It further intends to create an exchange between stakeholders in the country’s digital ecosystem such as the government, as represented by the MoTC, NGOs, which will represent special interest groups across the society, and citizens, as the ultimate beneficiaries of a truly smart nation.
Other stakeholders include startups as the places where good ideas germinate, as well as Qatari SMEs and multinational companies present in Qatar, that can take innovations to the next stage. Academia, too, is a major stakeholder, given the part it plays in training Qatar’s future workforce and specialists.
The government offers its full support to the initiative, setting aside QAR6 billion (equal to USD1.65 billion) for the next five years. As for the private sector, the Doha-based telecom giant, Ooredoo, will team up with the MoTC to be part of the initiative. Ooredoo is confident that the TASMU project will speed up the country’s digitalization in a sustainable manner.
The telecom company will act as an enabling force in the process, particularly extending its support to the implementation of solutions which can help the digitalization of the sectors deemed “high-priority” such as transportation and logistics, healthcare, environment, and sports.
IoT is the most useful technology in smart cities. Although IoT has been used as a buzzword in a rather confusing way, it is simply the technology of processing and acting upon the information lawfully gathered from a massive network of internet-enabled devices.
For being part of an IoT system, the said devices must have an internet connection as well as sensors (such as GPS) or even operators (like robotic arms).
IoT can be employed for purposes from traffic management to national security. For example, by counting the number of smart phones around certain GPS coordinates the urban transport authority’s computer system will be able to determine the busier metro stations at any hour, so as to take measures such as redirecting trains from less busy lines to overburdened ones.
Fortunately, MoTC has teamed up through TASMU with a series of private companies which can provide the right prerequisite technologies for the transformation of Doha into a smart city.
Ooredoo’s participation in the TASMU project makes sense. As a leading provider of ICT technologies such as IoT in Qatar, the telecom company can contribute to many solutions desired by the MoTC and the State of Qatar.
MoTC, for instance, has been keen for some years to create a “real-time crowd analytics” solution to optimize Doha’s metro system and Hamad International Airport (HIA). IoT solutions seem to be the easiest and safest way to perform crowd analysis, especially as Ooredoo has the upper hand in the nation’s 5G market, with its customers enjoying a 5G coverage of 70-90%, nationwide.
“We look forward to a nation of smart csssities, where we utilize state-of-the-art technology to enhance Qatari citizens’ and residents’ digital lives on a daily basis,” says Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Bin Nasser Al Thani, chief commercial officer of Ooredoo Qatar.
The consortium behind the TASMU initiative has other members, including American software giant Microsoft. The company has launched a major Azure datacenter in Qatar in recent years. Given its potential to realize many of the National Vision 2030 objectives in terms of digitalization, Microsoft seems like a natural ally for the TASMU initiative.
The company’s country manager for Qatar, Lana Khalaf, recently talked to TBY, emphasizing the Microsoft’s role in the initiative: “Our investment in local infrastructure through the launch of our new Azure region in Qatar will enable not only the FIFA World Cup and TASMU smart cities, but also drive the digital transformation across every industry, every organization and every person in Qatar enabling them to leverage the power of technology to achieve more.”
Microsoft is also helping an important group of stakeholder in the TASMU initiative, namely local start-ups. Khalaf believes that start-ups are powerhouses of innovation for all digitally driven markets, including Qatar.
Microsoft is empowering local market players through “partnering closely with many companies and entities in Qatar such as QSTP, QDB, Nautica 360, TASMU, and Tawteen to enable start-ups to grow.” It is also helping “by empowering them with advanced technologies like AI and IoT that are secure and powered by the most trusted and the most sustainable cloud.”
IoT, in particular, seems to be a hot topic in Qatar’s quickly evolving IT sector, especially in the TASMU platform. “The IoT market size in Qatar was estimated at USD614.6 million in 2022, and is expected to grow by 31% annually to reach USD1,822.6 million in 2026, with the Qatar’s smart city initiatives such as TASMU Smart Qatar program being a major driver of this growth,” according to MoTC. The growth of the IoT market is an indicator of the rapid pace of digitalization and the imminent emergence of Doha as a truly smart city.