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Huawei Smart City Solution Supports Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

By Ken Briodagh December 11, 2017

In recent years, falling global oil prices have created challenging opportunity for Saudi Arabia to move towards renewable energy and opening new investments projects that will support the economy since oil generates about 70 percent of the country's revenue.

Saudi Arabia announced a program called 'Vision 2030' in April 2016. This was to clarify the goals of developing cities, achieving environmental sustainability, improving digital infrastructures, and expanding the variety of digital services. In particular, the initiative recognizes the significance of expanding industrial clusters and attracting more high value-added investments - as feasible ways to build up national competitiveness. In line with Saudi Arabia's vision, the Smart Yanbu Industrial City project reportedly has started to build upon the hopes of Saudi Arabian citizens for transformation.

Yanbu industrial city is the third largest oil refinery center in the world. It can produce more than 1.1 million barrels of oil every day, and its yearly industrial production capacity reaches 131 million tons. Yanbu has also set up the largest petroleum transportation port near the Red Sea and established key petroleum liquefying and processing locations.

“Today's global competition is fierce. We hope to maintain the competitiveness of the city through our Smart City initiative,” said Dr. Alaa Nassif, CEO, Royal Commission for Yanbu (RCY). “We have focused on industrial growth over the past 40 years. Now, we will gradually shift to more diversified sectors including entertainment, tourism, and science and technology. In doing so, we desire to create industrial clusters, enhance collaboration between industries, expand business diversification, improve investment environments, and enhance competitiveness.”

Yanbu industrial city has become the beneficiary of high-speed industrialization. The efficient city layout, wide roads, sufficient public spaces, and green parks all indicate the vitality of this fast growing city. However, Yanbu is also facing ever-increasing pressure. For example, limited network bandwidth cannot meet the requirements of governments, enterprises, and residents, affecting office efficiency and online entertainment experiences. The daily operations of large refining factories, ports, and warehouses, as well as large-scale city construction require a large number of heavy vehicles. Overloading and speeding by these heavy vehicles have caused costly maintenance for the roads. Public parking spaces are difficult to manage because there are too many private cars. Road lighting costs are high. Building rubble and waste are sometimes not handled in a timely manner. Security risks exist in densely populated areas. A large number of underground industrial facilities need security due to lack of monitoring.

“The vision of building a Smart Yanbu Industrial City is aligned with the 'Vision 2030' goal. It aims to improve the quality of life through a smart city. We have set a series of specific goals. For example, all national transformation projects that have been planned will be on the right track; the annual smart city revenue will exceed USD $66 million; the average incident response time will be less than 7 minutes; the annual traffic accidents will be fewer than 1,200; the optical fiber coverage rate will be greater than 59 percent; the free Wi-Fi coverage rate in public places will be higher than 70 percent; the public lighting costs will be reduced by 30 percent; the waste clearing efficiency will grow by 30 percent; and the road maintenance costs will be reduced by 20 percent,” said Nassif.

The Smart Yanbu Industrial City plan has three phases:

Phase 1 (Smart City 1.0): Focuses on the construction of city infrastructure, such as city broadband and cloud computing, to build a connected city

Phase 2 (Smart City 2.0): Revolves around city applications, including security, intelligent public services, and environmental protection, to build a sensor-enabled city

Phase 3 (Smart City 3.0): Centers on the city platform, covering the city management platform and smart community portal, to ultimately build a fully intelligent city

Aiming to enhance municipal administration, RCY has focused on eight smart applications to improve municipal administration efficiency, enhance public safety, and create a better living environment. Huawei provided a portfolio of network and IT solutions (including wireless access points, routers, switches, servers, storage, and 2G/3G/4G base stations), devices such as surveillance cameras, the eSight + Network Management System (NMS) platform which uniformly manages network-wide devices, and software products provided by Huawei partners. All these help ensure that the data collected by front-end devices can be transmitted to the back-end system in a secure, stable, and real-time manner for management and analysis.

The eight smart applications are as follows:

Heavy Vehicle Management: Almost all industrial cities have these big headaches: Overloading and speeding of vehicles, which make the road easy to be damaged, and need a lot of maintenance costs. To prevent this, Yanbu has buried pressure and length sensors in important entrances and exits of the industrial areas. These sensors work with HD License Plate Recognition (LPR) cameras that are set up at the roadside to accurately record information about all vehicles passing by, such as the registration information, speed, and weight. Through the networks, routers, and switches, such information will be uploaded to the automatic management system that can assess penalties to vehicles for overloading and speeding. High efficiency of road transportation is crucial to a country that is undergoing transformation. The new dynamic weighing system does not require vehicle docking or manual guidance; therefore, the traffic is not affected. The dynamic weighing system also does not require fixed weighing sites or employees for on-site work, reducing construction and operations costs by 80 percent.

Smart Waste Management: In Saudi Arabia, the hot weather accelerates garbage deterioration. However, almost all garbage bins are uncovered, give an unpleasant smell, and attract stray cats, dogs, and mice, which increases the risk of disease infection and adversely affects people's life comfort and health. The Smart Waste Management Solution provides capacity sensors powered by solar energy. With such capacity sensors installed, the fill-level of a garbage bin is reported in real time, so that the administrator can optimize the driving routes of garbage vehicles to improve the garbage collection efficiency. In addition, the oil consumption of garbage vehicles is monitored. The administrator is notified of all exceptional changes in the oil volume to prevent oil theft.

Smart Streetlight: The old streetlight system had limited management and control over streetlights. The system could simply turn on and off streetlights, and only notify the related management department of streetlight faults. Now, the energy-consuming and high-voltage sodium lamps that could not be remotely controlled have been replaced with new LED lighting modules, which feature low energy consumption, can be automatically turned on/off, and can have brightness adjusted according to the environmental conditions. The use of such modules reduces the lighting energy consumption by 70 percent. With the Smart Streetlight system, the lighting policy can be flexibly configured and modified on a per-streetlight basis, instead of the traditional power-on and power-off based on the power phase line. The management platform provides information about the working status and service life of every streetlight, which reduces the workload of traditional road device inspection. In addition, by integrating terminals such as digital signage, environment monitoring sensors, emergency alarming devices, speakers, and surveillance cameras, the streetlights can provide diverse information (such as emergency notification, business, and weather) and provide convenient services (such as emergency calls and video surveillance), building a better interactive platform for bridging the government and citizens.

Smart Parking: The parking lots in Yanbu have long been free of charge for citizens, which objectively leads to unfair allocation of parking resources in popular places. While keeping most parking lots free of charge, the smart parking management system charges the residents who use the parking lots in popular places. Such a successful combination of technologies and economics ensures that resources are provided based upon citizens' needs. The usage of a parking space is reported in real time by the geomagnetic and infrared sensor installed on the parking space. The number of available parking spaces and the occupancy duration of each parking space are automatically and quickly determined. Citizens can pay parking fees in various ways, such as using mobile phones and parking fee machines.

Smart Energy Efficiency Monitoring: The high incomes in Saudi Arabia allow citizens to enjoy cheap electricity services which inevitably increases resource consumption and creates a burden to the vulnerable ecosystem. RCY has decided to reduce power consumption in office areas and set a good example to encourage citizens to enhance their awareness of power conservation. The energy consumption sensors in office buildings can collect power consumption data on each area in real time. Then, diverse management approaches based on power consumption data comparison can be taken to improve government staff's awareness of energy savings and promote reasonable power consumption. The sensors can also remotely control the power supply. During non-working hours, the sensors can be remotely controlled to shut down the air conditioners and lighting devices for more energy savings.

Crowd Density Analysis: With the popularity of smartphones, Wi-Fi is now everywhere. Consequently, monitoring Wi-Fi signals can accurately learn the distribution and flows of people, allowing city authorities to closely follow situations and take necessary measures in a timely manner in the case of any emergencies.

Smart Manhole Cover: As an industrial city experiencing rapid growth, Yanbu has a large number of pipes, valves, and connectors installed underground. The manhole covers for accessing these facilities have become a focus for security measures to protect the underground facilities from becoming targets for attacks. The Smart Manhole Cover Solution provides remote control over manhole covers. The covers can be opened only when maintenance is required, preventing unauthorized access. Different types of sensors such as hazardous gas detection and water permeation detection sensors can be installed on the covers for different types of manholes, monitoring overflow accidents in real time and ensuring the safety of personnel inside the manholes.

Comprehensive Performance Assessment: With this comprehensive assessment system, the key tasks of all related city departments can be planned and assigned in a unified manner, and the progress of each department's work indicators is monitored. This helps identify problems ahead of time and find the root causes. The unified performance indicators help promote collaboration between departments and hence improve government work efficiency.


Ken Briodagh is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience under his belt. He is in love with technology and if he had his druthers would beta test everything from shoe phones to flying cars.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

Editorial Director

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