The Middle East is on the eve of an energy transition that will affect all walks of life. Arab countries can no longer depend solely on hydrocarbons. In the long run, they will have to shift to more sustainable resources like solar or wind power.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SME‟s), corporations, cities and national jurisdictions will play the key role in this transition. Smart grids will not only improve network resilience and reliability; they will also result in energy saving (natural gas in particular).
The overall result is a positive effect on the efficiency of present-day infrastructure. In the near future, smart grids will also enhance the quality of life by creating a breeding ground for innovation. This is an incentive to higher-level jobs, better education, transport and healthcare in a less polluted environment.
New forms of cooperative urbanism are harnessing the internet to achive grand civic goals.
A generation of intrepid software developers is creating powerful tools for ordinary people to work together to achieve civic goals. SeeClickFix.com and FixMyStreet.com are US and UK websites where users can report problems in their area directly to the relevant local authority. Collapsed walls, broken signage and faulty streetlighting can be logged by anyone in the community. Reports are mapped online while statistics about how swiftly issues are dealt with are automatically published, encouraging authorities to act quickly. Rather than individual complainants acting in isolation, the sites allow strangers to cooperate in holding their elected officials to account while improving their public spaces.
Critics argue the sites foster apathy − encouraging the public to rely on local authorities for relatively minor maintenance jobs rather than taking responsibility as a neighbourhood, but nevertheless, the idea of using decentralised web-based input as a generator for development is gathering momentum.
When it comes to technology and strategy, government is often behind the times, and far behind the most innovative businesses. It's slow-moving, risk-averse, and subject to many electoral and legal constraints.
Cities, on the other hand, move much faster. That was the subject of a recent panel hosted by SAP and the Brookings Institute, what Sean O'Brien, the Global Vice President Of Urban Matters and Public Security at SAP called the "secret sauce" of the best-run cities.
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