Kenya’s Konza Technology City is set to be the country’s first ever smart city. The project, whose progress appears to have slowed down recently and is being touted in some quarters as a white elephant, is still on course and has the Kenyan government’s full backing. That is according to Principal Secretary Joseph Tiampati Ole Musuni who was one of the panelists during an idea swap at the GTX Ignite sessions at the ongoing GITEX Technology Week which enters its fourth day today.
A smart city is simply a city where all systems you’d find in a developed urban area are data-driven. Every one of them is informed and possible because of solid data available. Everything from provision of e-government services to parking vehicles to security systems to energy solutions are in line with some set technological standards.
The government’s most standout successes, the Huduma service centres were also mentioned by the PS as some of the ways the government is bringing services closer to the people in its new approach to e-governance. Huduma centres, the service centres that are connected to a centralized government system through which staff access to serve Kenyans, are set to be available in even more towns in Kenya as the government seeks to reach more Kenyas and improve service delivery.
Globally, the idea of smart cities has been around for long and embraced in most parts of the world including several Asian and European cities. Dubai for instance is already on course to become of the first major smart cities. The city is preparing to host the 2020 Expo and one the key attractions at the city’s Police Department stand at GITEX this year is the smart policeman. Dubai is already on course to having these RoboCops all over the city in key public areas like shopping malls by early 2016 as part of a pilot before their eventual gradual rollout. According to the Dubai Police Smart Services Department General Director Colonel Khalid Nasser Alrazooqi, people are likely to be more receptive to a smart policeman (a machine) than a human officer in part because of the wow factor and also the fact that generally people fear the cops.
At the moment, Dubai already has over 6,000 connected cameras all over the city and the Dubai police have access to all these including those in places like malls and bars. This has gone a long way in making it one of the places with the lowest crime rates in the world.
Definitely Kenya can learn a lot from such initiatives and if a city as large and developed as Dubai is committed to transition to a wholesome smart city then Kenya can go beyond Konza as well and do more.