The Sultanate has a forward-looking leadership that sees the future now. The pioneering spirit of the nation is evident from a move to catapult Muttrah into future with a master plan for a smart city. Under a proposal that has received The Research Council nod, Muttrah, which has witnessed history unfold over the ages, will be made the first smart city of the Sultanate. This entails upgrading the network connectivity and using Internet of Things to make managing the infrastructure efficient. The network would cover transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, schools, libraries, community services, water supply, waste management and law enforcement. TRC has approved the proposal in principle. As council Assistant Secretary General for Innovation Support HH Dr Fahad Al Julanda Al Said, “The smart city initiative is already in the pipeline and there is a model on which TRC, Muscat Municipality and other partners are working.” The future smart cities will be based on that model. “Its outcome will be studied and judged to see what is the best way forward.” The authorities rightly reckon that the Sultanate has obvious advantages in pushing through the smart city proposal. Almost 95 per cent of the nation is covered by quality connectivity, with fibre optic network being installed across the nation. The nation is known for its ability to look outside the box. The problems that the nation faces are unique and they need unique solutions, as Ali Al Shidhani of TRC says. The Innovation Park in Muttrah is a solid step in the right direction. It is in such places that talents can come together and exchange ideas. That would result in out-of-the-box solutions.
The government is, of course, aware of the necessity of more and more such initiatives across the nation so that the talent pool available could be honed and put to work in nation building. Technologies are changing fast and the country will have to keep moving to keep its pioneering position. This requires investment in innovation. Initiatives like the Innovation Park harness the innate sense of innovation and thirst for knowledge in the Omani culture. The government knows the importance of proper infrastructure in propelling the youth towards a future where they become world leaders of innovation. A fully integrated smart city that is network centric is a step in the right direction for the future. Eventually the entire nation should be on a network so that the level of efficiency would increase. Higher efficiencies ensure better redeployment of resources at a time when the region is facing economic uncertainties. In fact the government has made two smart moves that could help the nation stay ahead for a long time. One is the adoption of technologies that increase the efficiencies of government processes. The other is the adoption of green technologies that reduce the carbon footprint. They both improve governmental efficiency and ensure that the resources are properly used. There is obvious advantage in properly prioritising government investments, especially when the resources are becoming increasingly scarce. By choosing Muttrah for the first smart city, the authorities have shown great wisdom. They are sending a resounding message how the nation cares for its heritage even while pushing ahead with the latest in technology.