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SMART CITY

The first pillar of a smart city – Institutional development

The concept of the smart city differs from person to person. For some, a city flourishes with its institutional growth, and for some, an excellent infrastructural development is a definition of a progressive city. To understand the sustainability and transition of a smart city, we must first trace the organic growth in its socio-technical system, which means that there is a need for a noticeable change in the institutional-material structures of the smart city.

– “Regulative, normative and cultural-cognitive elements that, together with associated activities and resources, provide stability and meaning to social life” (Scott, 1995)

The three prominent dimensions that need to be carefully considered to order to determine the development of a city as a smart city are as follows:

Regulative – A city requires explicit regulatory processes, such as formal rules, laws, policies, protocols, and standards to constitute a developed city. In case if a city fails to comply with these rules, there may have more profound implications in terms of legal sanctions. When we try and analyze how a city can develop based on the above points, we have a fair idea and understanding that the institutional analysis of smart city initiatives would elaborate on the formal dimensions of these initiatives. This should be done in such a way in which they are deep-rooted in urban, regional, national, or even international policy initiatives for urban development.

Normative – A city should have rules that introduce a prescriptive, evaluative, and obligatory dimension. This should also refer to changes like values, role expectations, social norms, duties, and responsibilities. Just in case if a city fails to comply with these rules, it may result in strong emotional responses for those who show active behavior of following the rules, which can lead to a sense of shame or disgrace. On the contrary, it would raise a feeling of pride and honor, if all rules are diligently followed. As the debate of what makes a city smart continues, it has increased the scope and needs for more inclusive development. It may also be noted that the economic, social, and ecological challenges may have a far-reaching impact and ideally should also be prioritized in order to consider a city to be smart. However, it should be a significant point of discussion for the policymakers to prioritize the smart city initiatives and form the goals.

Cognitive – To understand the cognitive dimension, we should understand the cognitive behavior of the people. The world is interpreted based on shared conceptions and frames through which the social-structure gains meaning. Comprehensively, they form implicit ‘cultural reservoirs’ or ‘cognitive logics’ for action. These schemes can lead to confusion if not conformed at the earliest stage of policy formation. Symbols, discourse, and cultural categories, and how they are ‘brought to life’ in social interactions, are essential elements of the cultural-cognitive pillar in forming a smart city. For example, in the analysis of how smart cities are framed as solutions to contemporary urban challenges and such conversational approaches have received relatively much interest in this field, in forming a critical perspective of a smart city.

The study of a smart city is framed propositions for comparison as highlighted below:

  1. Prevailing institutional pillars can be regulative, normative as well as cognitive. It configures the form of new smart city institutional arrangements (or governance arrangements).
  2. These pillars are place-specific and multi-scalar. And hence, institutional arrangements across urban contexts will differ.
  3. The study of a smart city will be based on specific facts and data. It will vary from places to places based on different features and outcomes across the urban contexts.
  4. The cities that are elected as smart cities in each country should be explored based on certain socio-cultural, institutional, technologies, and other engagements.

A smart city is not as perceived to be but as explored to be one.

SMART CITY

The Future of Vertical Farming: Middle Eastern Efforts in Urban Agriculture

The Future of Vertical Farming: Middle Eastern Efforts in Urban Agriculture

The future of vertical farming in the Middle East holds significant promise for addressing food security and sustainable agriculture challenges in the region. Vertical farming is a technology-driven agricultural practice that involves cultivating crops in vertically stacked layers, often in controlled indoor environments. Middle Eastern countries are exploring and investing in vertical farming as a viable solution for urban agriculture. Here are some key aspects of the future of vertical farming in the region:

  1. Water Efficiency: Given the water scarcity in the Middle East, vertical farming’s water-efficient methods, such as hydroponics and aeroponics, are gaining attention. These techniques use significantly less water compared to traditional farming methods, making vertical farming more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
  2. Year-Round Crop Production: Vertical farming allows for year-round crop production, independent of weather conditions. This steady supply of fresh produce can reduce the region’s dependence on imports and enhance food security.
  3. Optimal Land Use: Vertical farming maximizes land use by utilizing vertical space in urban environments. This is particularly valuable in densely populated cities where land availability is limited.
  4. Reduced Food Miles: Vertical farms can be established close to urban centers, reducing the distance food travels from farm to table. This reduces carbon emissions associated with transportation and enhances the freshness of produce.
  5. Climate Control: Controlled indoor environments in vertical farms enable precise control over temperature, humidity, and light, creating ideal conditions for plant growth and reducing the risk of crop failure due to extreme weather events.
  6. Nutrient Management: Vertical farms can tailor nutrient solutions to meet the specific needs of crops, leading to healthier plants and higher yields.
  7. Integration with Smart Technologies: Integration of smart technologies, such as IoT sensors and data analytics, enables real-time monitoring of crops and resource usage, leading to efficient and optimized farming practices.
  8. Local Food Production: Vertical farming empowers communities to produce their own food locally, fostering food self-sufficiency and reducing dependence on external sources.
  9. Innovative Crops: Vertical farms provide opportunities to experiment with growing less conventional crops and specialty varieties that may have higher nutritional value and unique flavors.
  10. Research and Development: Middle Eastern countries are investing in research and development to advance vertical farming technologies, optimize resource use, and adapt farming methods to local conditions.

While vertical farming presents numerous opportunities, it also comes with challenges, including initial setup costs, energy consumption, and ensuring economically viable production. Overcoming these challenges requires collaboration between governments, private sectors, and research institutions to develop supportive policies, incentives, and innovative farming models.

As vertical farming gains traction in the Middle East, it has the potential to revolutionize urban agriculture and contribute to a more sustainable and resilient food system in the region.

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SMART CITY

The Evolution of Smart Cities: Sustainable Urban Planning in the Middle East

The evolution of smart cities in the Middle East has been remarkable, with a focus on sustainable urban planning to address the challenges of rapid urbanization, population growth, and resource constraints. Middle Eastern countries are leveraging advanced technologies to create efficient, connected, and environmentally-friendly cities. Here’s how sustainable urban planning is shaping smart cities in the region:

  1. Sustainable Infrastructure: Smart cities in the Middle East emphasize sustainable infrastructure development. This includes energy-efficient buildings, green spaces, eco-friendly transportation systems, and waste management solutions to reduce the environmental impact.
  2. Renewable Energy Integration: Middle Eastern smart cities are increasingly integrating renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, to power their urban centers. Solar-powered streetlights, buildings, and public facilities contribute to reduced carbon emissions and energy conservation.
  3. Smart Transportation: Smart cities in the region prioritize efficient and sustainable transportation systems. This includes public transit expansion, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, bike-sharing programs, and traffic management solutions to reduce congestion and air pollution.
  4. Water Conservation: Water scarcity is a significant concern in the Middle East. Smart cities employ advanced water management technologies, such as smart meters, leak detection systems, and recycled water usage, to conserve and optimize water resources.
  5. IoT and Data Analytics: Internet of Things (IoT) sensors collect real-time data on various city functions, enabling data-driven decision-making for efficient resource allocation, waste reduction, and improved services for residents.
  6. Green Building Initiatives: Smart cities in the Middle East promote green building standards and certifications to ensure energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly, and sustainable construction practices.
  7. Smart Grids and Energy Management: The integration of smart grids allows for more efficient energy distribution and consumption, optimizing energy use and reducing waste.
  8. Public Participation and Citizen Engagement: Sustainable urban planning in smart cities involves active citizen participation and engagement. Smart platforms allow residents to provide feedback, report issues, and actively contribute to the decision-making process.
  9. Public Safety and Security: Smart cities implement advanced technologies for public safety, including smart surveillance systems, emergency response coordination, and disaster management strategies.
  10. E-Government and Digital Services: Smart cities in the Middle East provide digital services, such as e-government platforms and online service portals, to enhance administrative efficiency and citizen access to public services.

The Middle East’s commitment to sustainable urban planning is evident in various ambitious smart city projects, such as Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, NEOM in Saudi Arabia, and Msheireb Downtown Doha in Qatar. These projects serve as showcases for sustainable development and have the potential to inspire other cities in the region and beyond. By combining technology, innovation, and sustainable practices, smart cities in the Middle East are poised to create a more livable, resilient, and prosperous urban future for their residents.

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SMART CITY

Tech-Enhanced Pilgrimage: Middle Eastern Cities Integrating Smart Pilgrim Services

Tech-enhanced pilgrimage is transforming the experience of religious travelers visiting Middle Eastern cities for pilgrimage purposes. Smart pilgrim services leverage technology and innovative solutions to provide a more efficient, convenient, and safe experience for millions of pilgrims who visit the region every year. Here’s how Middle Eastern cities are integrating smart services for pilgrims:

  1. Smart Travel Planning: Mobile apps and online platforms provide pilgrims with comprehensive information about pilgrimage routes, accommodation options, transportation, and visa requirements. These apps also offer real-time updates on crowd density and travel advisories.
  2. Digital Guidance and Wayfinding: Augmented reality (AR) and navigation apps help pilgrims navigate through crowded pilgrimage sites and follow prescribed routes with ease. These technologies enhance the overall pilgrimage experience and reduce the likelihood of getting lost.
  3. Online Registration and Booking: Smart services allow pilgrims to register for their pilgrimage online and book accommodation in advance. This streamlines the process, reduces waiting times, and ensures a smoother journey.
  4. Real-Time Crowd Management: IoT sensors and data analytics are used to monitor crowd density at pilgrimage sites and manage the flow of pilgrims to prevent overcrowding and ensure safety.
  5. Contactless Payments and E-Wallets: Smart pilgrim services promote cashless transactions and offer contactless payment options for various services, including accommodation, transportation, and purchasing religious items.
  6. Multilingual Translation Services: Language translation apps and devices help overcome language barriers, allowing pilgrims from different countries to communicate with locals and each other more easily.
  7. Health and Safety Monitoring: IoT devices and wearables track pilgrims’ health data, such as body temperature and heart rate, to monitor their well-being during the pilgrimage. This information can be used to provide immediate medical assistance if needed.
  8. Digital Connectivity and Wi-Fi Hotspots: Middle Eastern cities provide free Wi-Fi hotspots in and around pilgrimage sites to ensure pilgrims stay connected with their families and friends during their journey.
  9. Digital Pilgrim Records: Smart services maintain digital records of pilgrims’ activities, making it easier for authorities to manage the influx of visitors and ensure safety and security.
  10. Smart Transportation: Integrated transportation systems offer efficient and convenient travel options for pilgrims, including smart buses, trains, and ride-hailing services.

By embracing smart pilgrim services, Middle Eastern cities not only enhance the experience of religious travelers but also improve the overall management of pilgrimage events. The integration of technology in pilgrimage planning and execution enhances safety, efficiency, and convenience, making the journey more spiritually fulfilling for millions of pilgrims who visit the region each year.

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