(Communication and Information Research )
Oman, like other GCC countries, is facing important challenges related to population growth, urbanization, economic and financial stretching, water scarcity, environmental issues, traffic and road accidents, etc. Many GCC cities have already started working on projects of being Smart such as Dubai (UAE), and Doha (Qatar). In Oman, the development of smart cities was already framed in the Digital Oman 2018, a National Strategic Plan, and the 2016-2020 five years plan of Oman as a prior project. The 2020 Digital Oman, an updated National Strategic Plan, reinstates the smart cities and aims at making Oman an international digital reference and the ICT an important lever for socio-economics development. The 2020 Digital Oman strategic plan is based on four key components: Infrastructure, e-Government, e-Business and Innovation, of which the innovation is to promote entrepreneurship, help and empower citizens while offering them a better quality of life and economic prosperity. The Ministry of Transport and Communication had already directed initiatives focused on the following objectives. 1. Development of smart cities and the use of advanced technologies (e.g., Internet of Things, Big Data) in order to boost the societal improvement of citizens, through the provision of a range of public sector services, and to foster the economic growth, through the establishment of new industries and fields of business. 2. Development of smart services such as smart energy, smart transportation, smart health, smart education, smart water management, etc. 3. Feasibility study to develop a pilot site as a smart city. The main strategic purposes for developing such pilot site are to study means for increasing the wellbeing of citizens, improving the management of city’s resources, empowering the participation of citizens, engaging them in planning and co-creating smart city services, becoming a business hub that creates new business opportunities and increases global competitiveness, and accelerating the roll-up of smart techno-polis in other cities.
IMPORTANCE OF ESTABLISHING A RESEARCH GROUP IN OMAN Establishing a research group in SQU focusing on issues related to smart cities is aligned with the national strategic plan and complements the Ministry of Transport and Communication initiative mentioned above. Besides, the proposed research group is expected to be pivotal in attracting national and international collaborators working on the concept of smart cities. The collaborations and research outputs that will ensue from the creation of the research group will lead to a better brand in research and higher education. In addition, research activities of the research group will enhance the chances of attracting funding and interactions with eminent national/international research organizations.
It is foreseen that a research group on broader themes of smart cities will help in feeding more vibrant ICT-services development in Oman, develop a hub that brings together researchers from multidisciplinary fields to provide solutions that will improve the wellbeing of the society in Oman and become an umbrella that gathers researchers and industries to solve multidisciplinary problems
- Research Areas: Several ICT cutting-edge technologies are deployed to make the management of city resources more efficient. In the literature, smart city concept is broken down to several domains which combines the functions (domains) of the cities as well as the technology. As functions (or domains), Smart Transport and Mobility are utilizing ICT to make the transportation and the mobility within the city more efficient. Additionally, Smart Energy is applied to monitor and reduce the consumption of energy in the city in order to make it eco-friendlier and green. Furthermore, other smart city domains have been emerging lately like Smart Government, Smart Education and Smart Living. The Smart Cities Research Group (SCRG) is a joint collaborative effort between academic institutions and industry/government partners in Oman. It is a thin organization in the planning and organizing level and its core members are researchers belonging to participating academic institutions in the Sultanate. At the initial stage, researchers from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and GUtech University constitute the core human capital of the research group. SQU has experts in smart government, smart utilities and logistics services. Researchers from GUtech are knowledgeable in the areas of Smart transport & mobility as well as cyber physical systems (CPS). It is expected that researchers in the area of smart cities from other academic institutions will join the research group later on. An online presence of the research group, through a professional website is very essential at the early stages. The website will be listing the profile of research group members and some potential projects.
In the short term, SCRG is interested in to work in the following areas:
o Smart city readiness and infrastructure (technologies, policies and regulations);
o Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, applications and services;
o Big Data applications, management, infrastructure and security;
o Smart services provision to the decision makers and citizens;
In the long term, SCRG projects are expected to address any of the following areas: Communication, Transport and Mobility, Energy, Water, Environment, Education, Health, Urban Environment