‘Smart’ in our age is rarely smart enough for long, such is the relentless pace of change and competition, be it economic in the local environment, or at the geopolitical level. Add to that rogue factors such as COVID-19 and the point becomes clearer still. And so, the meeting of core technological needs on what is essentially shifting sands—securely and in timely fashion—falls to those capable of assessing current situations based not on past events, but tomorrow’s probabilities. And meanwhile, Industry 4.0 promises job creation, but due to its fundamentally disruptive nature, also a loss of jobs now redundant. This has presaged the need for digital adoption of smart solutions in both public and private spheres of business and industry.
…where “Cloud computing, AI, Internet of Things (IoT), and autonomous systems are the four pillars of technology,” according to MEA President Pierre Santoni. With annual revenues north of USD3 billion Parsons is a digitally enabled solutions provider active across key sectors such as defense, security, and infrastructure. When Santoni took the helm he also inherited the company’s “two guiding principles when [designing a] new organization.” Agility and Resilience. This has stood the firm particularly well since COVID-19 knocked the world off balance.
Indeed, smart systems perhaps best tested than in a crisis, be it security related, or one sparked by an equally invisible, but natural menace like COVID-19. This, then, underlines the fact that systems require the capacity to seamlessly adapt to complex challenges and environments. It is duly reflected in Parson’s ‘enhance, extend, transform strategy’ for companies to maximize their efficiency. Meanwhile, smart solutions benefit from the option of remote analytics, affording the flexibility required for timely analysis and action. Parson’s DFuze tool has enabled construction and asset inspection, and again, has had a prime opportunity for field testing in the COVID-19 environment.
And to the backdrop of the firm’s international footprint, let’s briefly narrow our focus to the MEA, where Parsons had devised solutions for critical infrastructure, technical design and engineering services, as well as mobility solutions. The burgeoning new and smart cities arising across the MEA, and notably in the GCC, require careful management of numerous variables from human movement and traffic flows to flight paths and energy distribution, not to mention the engineering infrastructure that enables them in the first place. Of note, concerning people movement in the urban context is Parsons’ “Intersection as a Service” offering, which has seen interest in the Middle East. It cost-effectively adjusts traffic signals without requiring a complex network of sensors or central management node.
A Moving Story
To the sound of two hands clapping, Parson’s US-based R&D facilities share innovations with its MEA Smart Solutions Laboratory, “to leverage the technology developed there.” In the GCC Parsons’ involvement has included landmark projects ranging from the Abu Dhabi International Airport Expansion to Expo 2020 Dubai (Infrastructure and EXPO Metro Extension), as well as that Emirate’s ITS2020 Project and Traffic Control Center. In Saudi Arabia, the Riyadh Metro has leaned on Parsons’ know-how, while the engineering firm has undertaken the development of Jazan City for Primary and Downstream Industries (JCPDI), a completely new 106km2 industrial city.
On another key topic, Santoni confirms that cyber-security is a challenge but concludes that, “We are nimble, perhaps even more nimble during the crisis, and we will continue in that way.”