Central and Eastern European Countries Lagging Behind in Smart


Central and Eastern European Countries Lagging Behind in Smart
Central and Eastern European Countries Lagging Behind in Smart
City Initiatives
Prague, March 19, 2015 – Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are very active in Smart City
deployments, more than any other country in Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa
(CEMA). While Smart City deployments in Central Europe (CE) are at an early stage, this area is gaining
momentum with a growing number of emerging initiatives, predominantly mobility related (such as
intelligent traffic systems).
In IDC’s view, a Smart City is a finite entity (district, town, city, county, municipal and/ or metropolitan
area) with its own governing authority that is more local than national, which is built on a foundation of
ICT that allows the city to improve management and operations, economic development, sustainability,
innovation, and citizen engagement, while building an ecosystem of partners aimed at fundamentally
enhancing the quality of life for its residents. A Smart City can be characterized as a long-term project
with the goal of holistically incorporating numerous IT-driven initiatives.
Building a foundation layer based on cutting-edge technologies will enable the resulting city to deal more
effectively with the challenges that characterize modern urban epicenters, particularly those relating to
population and the extended problems of traffic, safety, pollution, and social cohesion. At the same time,
cities are important socio-economic hubs, so there is a need for city managers to strategically plan their
future development in order to remain productive, accelerate economic growth, and avoid the
consequences of uncontrolled city expansion, and optimize energy use and reduce CO2 footprints ─ all
while remaining with public budget constraints. This, coupled with goals for energy optimization and
minimizing the environmental footprint, incentivizes planners and managers to make cities “smarter”.
They thus naturally explore possibilities for making cities safer and operations more efficient, more
resilient, and more environmental friendly, while providing new services to citizens that are enabled by
innovative technologies.
GCC countries share a set of characteristics that makes them more prone to build Smart Cities than
anywhere else in the region, including: extremely high levels of urbanization; supportive national
strategies or government agendas (e.g., Qatar National Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia Economic Vision
2024); abundant energy wealth to invest in transformational projects; goals of interconnecting their highly
culturally diverse populations; and a large, mobile population served by rapid development of mobile
telecom networks.
“Smart City dynamics in the GCC and CEMA regions vary significantly,” says IDC analyst Ina Malatinska.
“This is not surprising if you consider that, on one hand, you have very prosperous GCC countries that
are generally technologically advanced, where the police force experiments with ways to use Google
Glass. And on the other hand, there are cities in Africa that routinely have to deal with third-world issues
like energy outages, poor transportation infrastructure, and theft of SIM cards from traffic lights.”
Following from analysis of key challenges encountered in CEMA Smart City projects, especially those in
GCC countries, IDC has identified fundamental determinants of success for such initiatives, which can be
categorized in four areas: strategy, funding, processes, and technology. What they all have in common is
a holistic approach; in other words, Smart Cities must be planned as a future-oriented transformation
process in which the employment of advanced ICT (e.g., next-generation mobile networks, Internet of
Things, etc.), is only one piece of the puzzle.
About the research
IDC has recently published a study, Gulf Cooperation Council Countries Leading CEMA in Smart City
Initiatives: Key Drivers and Success Factors, which presents the current situation, main drivers, and an
overview of major services categories in Smart City initiatives in the CEMA region. It further highlights
areas that city officials should pay attention to when developing Smart Cities. The information presented
is also relevant to vendors looking to position themselves beyond pure technology providers and instead
as innovative partners to Smart City owners/managers.
The report can be found here: http://idc-cema.com/eng/research/published-reports

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