Gulf Business‘s article that as an Explainer: Is data the new oil in the GCC? is a good snapshot of the present situation of that part of MENA countries.
We all know that ‘Big Oils’ management and petrol countries alike have underscored scientific research showing the link between burning fossil fuels and a dangerously heating planet. They’ve lobbied and funded reports to either downplay or deny the risks to the climate—and humanity—of using their products. It went on unabated until the advent of clean and accessibility to all the latest technological hard and software for a broad spectrum of commercial activities.
Explainer: Is data the new oil in the GCC?
Technology has now become a key driver of economic growth in the GCC, with data already defining the region’s future, opines Maurits Tichelman, VP – Sales, Marketing, and Communications and GM – Global Markets and Partners, EMEA at Intel
Is the term ‘data is the new oil’ still relevant? Yes, data has practically become the ‘new oil’. Data is playing a significant role as a crucial source of wealth for oil-rich nations and territories such as the GCC, which has historically been particularly dependent on oil as the main contributor to the GDP.
We are witnessing a significant shift from oil to data in the region as governments embark on strategic initiatives to diversify towards more knowledge-based and tech-driven economies. Data is already playing a key role in this transformation. A concrete example of this process could be autonomous driving. Autonomous vehicles run on data in the same way that today’s cars run on gasoline. Therefore, undoubtedly, data will be the new oil.ADVERTISING
In the GCC, oil has been crucial to economic growth. Will technology/data be able to provide the same level of economic prosperity? Countries in the region are heavily investing in diversified industries such as technology, manufacturing, education, and healthcare, among others. As the Gulf states transform and diversify, the importance and impact of technology will take on an even greater role. Data is already defining the region’s future, complemented by mega projects planned with greater focus on smart infrastructure (smart cities), advanced telecoms services, and somewhat accelerated by the rapid rise of remote learning and working due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, technology has now become a key driver of economic growth, from providing goods and services efficiently, to optimising advanced technologies to help businesses and governments access natural resources that can benefit people. Additionally, increased efficiency of labour has improved productivity and profitability.
While we are producing ample amounts of data in the region, are we currently maximising its benefits? We are surrounded by data and it continues to grow exponentially. According to estimates, in 2021 alone, there will be 74 zetabytes of generated data and it is expected to reach 149 zetabytes by 2024. As a result, the need to understand and optimise data has become even more significant as every business uses data to some extent. However, there is a lack of knowledge and skills in utilising the data to its full potential. With the rise of digitalisation, companies and governments across the region and worldwide are investing in digital transformation, a positive indication that more organisations are now realising the importance of data.
The Covid crisis has highlighted the importance of technology – but will it retain its relevance post-pandemic across industries? The pandemic has undeniably prompted companies to invest more in technology adoption across industries including healthcare, education, retail and real estate, among others. The use of innovation technology such as virtual medical/doctor consultation has helped people during lockdowns. The Covid crisis has forced organisations and governments to adapt and prepare better to tackle future calamities with the aid of technology.
Businesses have seen the advantages and have started deploying smart and intelligent technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to improve safety standards and increase productivity. Thus, it is clear that technology has become an absolute necessity rather than a mere option; its relevance has never been so crucial and without a doubt the use and benefits will play a bigger role post-pandemic across industries locally, regionally and internationally.
What are the biggest challenges hindering tech adoption/data-driven growth in the region? Although organisations are implementing advanced technologies, the vast majority still operate on outdated and traditional models, which prevent them from utilising the benefits of the latest available technologies. Secondly, reluctance and resistance from employees in adopting technology poses challenges for companies. Lastly, a lack of skilled professionals is a key factor that has restricted organisations in the region from completing their digital transformation.
Looking ahead, GCC states are seeking to become global knowledge hubs. How can that journey be accelerated? GCC governments are accelerating their digital transformation journeys with progressive strategies and initiatives. Smart Dubai, Dubai Data Strategy, Saudi Arabia’s The National Strategy for Digital Transformation and the Qatar Smart Program (TASMU) are examples of the regional commitment and ambition to explore all possibilities of technology and its impact on daily life and business. These strategies, roadmaps and ambitions are the key drivers and accelerators of their technological transformation journey.
A tall building is not defined by its height or number of stories. The important criterion is whether or not the design is influenced by some aspect of “tallness.”It is a building in which tallness strongly influences planning, design, construction and use: the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
Yanko Design has pertinent pictures of the world’s main trendy construction types to illustrate that statement best. A Touch of Nature + Sustainability to Modern Architecture are the elements that come, as it were, to justify the tallness of these structures and take into account all ecological concerns as if to alleviate their higher demand in the required material, men and money.
The above picture is for illustration and is of Yanko Design.
Green Skyscrapers that add a Touch of Nature + Sustainability to Modern Architecture!
Skyscrapers have taken over most of the major cities today. They’re symbols of wealth and power! And most of the skylines today are adorned with glistening glass skyscrapers. They are considered the face of modern architecture. Although all that glass and dazzle can become a little tiring to watch. Hence, architects are incorporating these tall towers with a touch of nature and greenery! The result is impressive skyscrapers merged with an element of sustainability. These green spaces help us maintain a modern lifestyle while staying connected to nature. We definitely need more of these green skyscraper designs in our urban cities!
Zaha Hadid Architects designed a pair of impressive skyscrapers that are linked by planted terraces, for Shenzhen, China. Named Tower C, the structure is 400 metres in height and is supposed to be one of the tallest buildings in the city. The terraces are filled with greenery and aquaponic gardens! They were built to be an extension of a park that is located alongside the tower and as a green public space.
Polish designers Pawel Lipiński and Mateusz Frankowsk created The Mashambas Skyscraper, a vertical farm tower, that is in fact modular! The tower can be assembled, disassembled and transported to different locations in Africa. It was conceptualised in an attempt to help and encourage new agricultural communities across Africa. The skyscraper would be moved to locations that have poor soil quality or suffer from droughts, so as to increase crop yield and produce.
The Living Skyscraper was chosen among 492 submissions that were received for the annual eVolo competition that has been running since 2006. One of the main goals of the project is to grow a living skyscraper on the principle of sustainable architecture. The ambitious architectural project has been envisioned for Manhattan and proposes using genetically modified trees to shape them into literal living skyscrapers. It is designed to serve as a lookout tower for New York City with its own flora and fauna while encouraging ecological communications between office buildings and green recreation centers. The building will function as a green habitable space in the middle of the concrete metropolis.
ODA’s explorations primarily focus on tower designs, in an attempt to bring versatility and a touch of greenery to NY’s overtly boxy and shiny cityscape. Architectural explorations look at residential units with dedicated ‘greenery zones’ that act as areas of the social congregation for the building’s residents. Adorned with curvilinear, organic architecture, and interspersed with greenery, these areas give the residents a break from the concrete-jungle aesthetic of the skyscraper-filled city. They act as areas of reflection and of allowing people to connect with nature and with one another.
Heatherwick Studio built a 20-storey residential skyscraper in Singapore called EDEN. Defined as “a counterpoint to ubiquitous glass and steel towers”, EDEN consists of a vertical stack of homes, each amped with a lush garden. The aim was to create open and flowing living spaces that are connected with nature and high on greenery.
Designed by UNStudio and COX Architecture, this skyscraper in Melbourne, Australia features a pair of twisting towers placed around a ‘green spine’ of terraces, platforms, and verandahs. Called Southbank by Beulah, the main feature of the structure is its green spine, which functions as the key organizational element of the building.
Mad Arkitekter created WoHo, a wooden residential skyscraper in Berlin. The 98-meter skyscraper will feature 29 floors with different spaces such as apartment rentals, student housing, a kindergarten, bakery, workshop, and more. Planters and balconies and terraces filled with greenery make this skyscraper a very green one indeed!
Algae as energy resources are in their beginnings and are seen as high potential. Extensive research work has dealt with algae as an energy source in recent decades. As a biofuel, they are up to 6 times more efficient than e.g. comparable fuels from corn or rapeseed. The Tubular Bioreactor Algae Skyscraper focuses on the production of microalgae and their distribution using existing pipelines. Designed by Johannes Schlusche, Paul Böhm, Raffael Grimm, the towers are positioned along the transalpine pipeline in a barren mountain landscape. Water is supplied from the surrounding mountain streams and springs, and can also be obtained from the Mediterranean using saltwater.
Tesseract by Bryant Lau Liang Cheng proposes an architecture system that allows residents to participate in not just the design of their own units; but the programs and facilities within the building itself. This process is inserted between the time of purchase for the unit and the total time required to complete construction – a period that is often ignored and neglected. Through this process, residents are allowed to choose their amenities and their communities, enhancing their sense of belonging in the process. Housing units will no longer be stacked in repetition with no relation whatsoever to the residents living in it – a sentimental bond between housing and men results.
In a world devoid of greenery, Designers Nathakit Sae-Tan & Prapatsorn Sukkaset have envisioned the concept of Babel Towers, mega skyscrapers devoted to preserving horticultural stability within a single building. The Babel towers would play an instrumental role in the propagation of greenery in and around the area. These towers would also become attraction centers for us humans, like going to a zoo, but a zoo of plants. Seems a little sad, saying this, but I do hope that we never reach a day where the Babel Tower becomes a necessity. I however do feel that having towers like these now, in our cities, would be a beautiful idea. Don’t you think so too?
This article from The Conversation written by Andrew Parnell, University of Sheffield does explain the historically proven basics of the Mediterranean Bassin as sustained by the latest scientific-technological advances of recent years. In effect, all countries around the Mediterranean sea have more or less tacitly agreed on what was arrived empirically throughout the Millenium years.
The geopolitics of the previous centuries were disadvantageous to those countries of the southern shore. Lately, its position connecting the oil-rich southern shore with that of the northern energy consumers makes it remerge as an attractive influencer in all domains, including fighting off the elements such as making cooling buildings by nearly 5ºC possible.
Cooling buildings by nearly 5ºC possible thanks to new whiter-than-white paint
From icy tundras to billowing clouds, the colour white crops up repeatedly in our planet’s palette. This colour provides a natural way for light from the sun to reflect back from the Earth’s surface and into space. This effect – known as the planet’s albedo – has a huge impact on average global temperature.
Imagine a world covered entirely with oceans. Although the idea might evoke a refreshing sense of coolness, the absence of reflective white areas would in fact see Earth’s average surface temperature increase to nearly 30ºC: double its current average temperature of 15ºC.
The ongoing decline in our planet’s ice and snow coverage, as well as being a consequence of human-driven climate change, is also driving further increases in surface temperature. Worst-case scenario models predict that – if CO₂ emissions are not dramatically reduced by 2050 – average temperatures in the year 2100 may be 1.5ºC warmer than those of the present day, thanks in part to Earth’s reduced reflectivity. The colour of our world plays a key part in determining its future.
The famous white buildings of islands like Santorini, Greece, aren’t just for show: humans have used the knowledge that white colours reflect heat best for hundreds of years. Traditionally, a type of white paint called gypsum, containing calcium sulphate (CaSO₄), is used to cover such buildings. A new study suggests that an alternative paint containing barium sulphate (BaSO₄) could be even more effective at reflecting the solar radiation hitting buildings back into space.
The key to the effectiveness of this new barium sulphate-based paint are the nanoparticles it contain that reflect the sun’s energy at a relatively high efficiency and at specific infrared wavelengths of 0.008mm–0.013mm. These wavelengths match part of the atmosphere that is highly transparent, known as the “sky window”.
That means more of the reflected solar energy can bounce right back through this “window” into space instead of remaining trapped in Earth’s atmosphere and contributing to global warming. According to the study’s authors, when solar radiation is shone at barium sulphate paint, nearly 10% of the radiation is reflected at these wavelengths.
Applying this type of paint to buildings in warm climate regions will help to keep buildings cooler – a huge challenge particularly in urban regions, where the density of people and buildings can push temperatures to unbearable heights during the summer months.
The study demonstrates how painting buildings with barium sulphate paint can reduce temperatures inside the buildings by 4.5ºC compared to the outside air temperature. This technology has the potential to significantly lower the cost of cooling buildings by reducing reliance on air conditioning.
However, this whiter-than-white paint has a darker side. The energy required to dig up raw barite ore to produce and process the barium sulphite that makes up nearly 60% of the paint means it has a huge carbon footprint. And using the paint widely would mean a dramatic increase in the mining of barium.
Nature’s cooling tricks
Barium sulphite-based paint is just one way to improve the reflectivity of buildings. I’ve spent the last few years researching the colour white in the natural world, from white surfaces to white animals. Animal hairs, feathers and butterfly wings provide different examples of how nature regulates temperature within a structure. Mimicking these natural techniques could help to keep our cities cooler with less cost to the environment.
The wings of one intensely white beetle species called Lepidiota stigma appear a strikingly bright white thanks to nanostructures in their scales, which are very good at scattering incoming light. This natural light-scattering property can be used to design even better paints: for example, by using recycled plastic to create white paint containing similar nanostructures with a far lower carbon footprint. When it comes to taking inspiration from nature, the sky’s the limit.
There is a need to take the climate crisis more effectively to build a sustainable future. For that, local governments need to provide for equipping cities with actionable insights to combat climate change.
Environment Journal elaborates on all inherent aspect of how to go about it. In the meantime, more extensive and more significant areas in the MENA region, of which only two cities are affiliated to the referred to C40, gradually impacted by the now apparent climate alteration, still lack some comprehensive and coordinated moves to restore degraded ecosystems.
Anyway, here is a view of how to integrate the notion of environmental protection through the extensive and practical usage of the available data management infrastructure.
Equipping cities with actionable insights to combat climate change
In order to tackle the climate crisis and build a sustainable future, cities need data, writes Julia Moreno Rosino, inclusive climate action senior manager policy, data & analysis at C40, a network of the worlds megacities that are committed to addressing climate change.
As overall temperatures rise, the world is facing an increase in the frequency and intensity of forest fires, droughts, severe storms, flooding and other extreme weather events.
World leaders are trying to address these problems with regulations and initiatives concerning greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, energy transition, and adaptation to climate hazards; and municipalities around the world are taking ever bolder action in these areas.
Cities, where 56% of the global population live, are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, and are working to build a healthier and more sustainable future.
In order to do this, cities need data.
As data collection systems mature and expand around the world, they are providing an invaluable way for city officials to track their progress on a number of indicators and inform new strategies to tackle the most significant climate challenges. Tracking data alone is not enough cities must be able to use that information to produce actionable insights to foster decision-making and introduce meaningful changes as part of their climate action plans.
Data-driven knowledge sharing: benchmark results and inspire success
Climate action planning needs to include monitoring and evaluation.
Policymakers can especially benefit from continuous, real-time data to develop action plans that are fine-tuned to local considerations. For this, cities are collecting data and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate city performance on emissions, air quality, energy, climate adaptation and other key elements.
At C40 Cities, a network of 97 cities taking ambitious climate action, we have built multiple dashboards, both internal and public-facing, using the data analytics software Qlik Sense to analyse these metrics and indicators.
This allows us, and cities, to analyse specific regions or sectors, in a faster and more intuitive way than having to assess multiple, complex datasets. It allows benchmarking city performance and rapid identification of which cities are on track to meet particular targets and which might need more support.
For example, our Greenhouse Gas Emissions Dashboard hosted on C40s Knowledge Hub presents complex emissions data in an easy-to-analyse format. This dashboard can be used by cities, research organisations, or members of the general public to uncover which sectors and sub-sectors are contributing to higher emissions, such as aviation or buildings. City officials can also compare current emissions to previous years to better understand their emissions trajectory.
The Clean Construction Policy Explorer is a more niche dashboard that examines the policies cities have implemented to tackle emissions from a segment of their built environment and highlights which cities have committed to achieving low carbon and clean construction. By aggregating and surfacing this information, we hope to inspire all cities to raise their ambitions on clean construction policies while learning from the policies and progress of those who have gone first.
Our Adaptation Data Explorer allows cities to find other peers around the world that are experiencing similar climate hazards or extreme weather events. Here, city officials can obtain insights on how others are addressing a particular issue and the actions they are taking, either globally or within the same region. For example, there are many cities experiencing heat waves. Leaders from Buenos Aires, Melbourne, Barcelona, and others can learn from one another and through C40 connect to discuss what they are doing to deal with these extreme heat events. Similar groupings are forming in response to rising sea levels, wildfires, and floods.
Given that transportation accounts for an important percentage of greenhouse gas emissions, it is also important to look at how mobility is evolving both in the face of infrastructure changes and the pandemic. We are using new forms of mobility data to see how public transportation dropped sharply during the first few months of the pandemic, and at the same time than cycling increased.
This has made an impact and changed the traditional mode share of transportation of many cities. What effect is this having on city emissions? Will this steep increase in cycling stay in most cities? These are all important questions that cities should be asking, and they need data to unearth the answers.
Advance to the next phase with automated insights
C40 not only aims to give our cities the data analysis and exploration options that I have explained above, but to also provide them with useful information on where to go next, so they can advance their respective climate goals in different sectors, often in highly local ways. To achieve this, we have dashboards that we share privately with our member cities, where we provide them tailored article recommendations depending on how they are performing against specific metrics.
For example, on their private page, a city can see its current rate of waste that is being diverted from landfill and incineration and compare this to peers and targets. The dashboard on the private Knowledge Hub page will also automatically recommend specific resources depending on the data for that city. If it is not on track on this indicator, it might be offered specific articles to support landfill reduction strategies. If a city is already progressing quickly, it will be recommended insights to further raise their ambition and work towards zero waste.
Every city has different needs and is in different phases of progression within multiple sectors; there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, the goal is to provide cities with the information that is most relevant to them depending on their data and queries, and ambitions.
Draw upon the expertise of others to achieve climate change goals
Data analytics and dashboards can help with this effort, providing a way for city officials to quickly explore their progress in various sectors, share knowledge and peruse proven insights. Such offerings will strengthen the network in which city officials and policymakers can draw upon the expertise of each other to achieve climate change goals. Although cities are taking big steps, we still need faster action to reduce the impact of climate change, and we hope that by helping cities to track results and performance, they will be better positioned to make meaningful changes.
Do Buildings Have To Be Permanent? wondered Jack Berning in Freethink that said in passing holds lot more stories like this. One question, though. Apart from the Modular construction being like building with LEGOs on steroids, are we back to a certain Nomadism that evolved into Sedentarism of permanent, immovable urbanisation of towns and villages throughout the world? Could such a trend work its way to the MENA region since it is perhaps best at knowing all about nomadism? Besides, and in this context, I wonder if building a new capital in Egypt is worth the trouble. In any case, let us see what it is all about.
The picture above is for illustration and is of Weebly
Modular construction is like building with LEGOs on steroids. Here’s how it could transform our cities.
Do Buildings Have To Be Permanent?
We live in a world surrounded by homes, shopping centers, and office buildings built to withstand the test of time, but there’s a problem with this focus on permanence.
In our dynamic and ever-changing world, permanent structures often end up generating massive amounts of waste, whether through demolition or abandonment. In fact, global construction waste is expected to reach over two-billion tons per year by 2025.
That’s why modular construction, a sustainable building technique that dates back to the 1800s, is starting to pick up steam once again.
What is Modular Construction?
The concept behind modular building is reminiscent of a popular childhood pastime: LEGO sets. The construction process involves transporting multiple prefabricated buildings (the “bricks”) which are connected on-site to form a complete structure.
Global construction waste is expected to reach over two-billion tons per year by 2025.
The prefabricated sections are assembled away from the construction site and can be stacked in various configurations, such as end-to-end or stacked one on top of the other. Once the prefabricated modules have been placed, they’re conjoined to form one cohesive structure. It’s like LEGOs on steroids, using cranes for assembly rather than your fingertips.
And because of the ease with which these structures can be disassembled and transported elsewhere for reuse, modular construction could lead to exponential increases in efficiency in the building industry, if it becomes more widespread. This idea isn’t new, but recent unfoldings in technology, economic demands, and shifting mindsets are opening the door to a new wave of interest.
The Benefits of Modular Building
Modular construction takes a radically different approach to building. Because much of the process takes place in a factory beforehand, projects can be completed in half the amount of time that traditional methods take, where all work is completed on-site. Factory-based manufacturing helps reduce delays from typical obstacles like bad weather and vandalism.
This time savings means a faster return on investment for landowners. And because prefab buildings use lightweight materials that are less expensive, they have the potential to deliver momentous cost savings. In the European and U.S. markets alone, modular construction could lead to an annual savings of up to $22 billion.
Because much of the process takes place in a factory beforehand, projects can be completed in half the amount of time that traditional methods take.
Perhaps most importantly, modular construction is more sustainable than traditional construction methods. Modular structures can be disassembled and relocated for new uses, minimizing the demand for raw materials and the energy expended to produce those materials. Additionally, building in a factory helps eliminate waste. Inventory can be more easily controlled and building materials protected from damage.
A few more perks — a primarily indoor construction environment leads to improved safety and less accidents for construction crews. It also results in improved air quality within the buildings themselves, as a factory-controlled setting eradicates the potential of moisture getting trapped within walls.
The primary drawback of modular buildings is less old-fashioned character or charm in their outward appearance, but that doesn’t mean the structures aren’t aesthetically pleasing. And despite a common misconception, modular buildings are just as structurally sound as traditional ones — they’re required to meet the same building codes.
iMod Structures Lead the Way
Although modular construction has yet to be embraced by the masses, one company is paving the way. iMod Structures builds reconfigurable, relocatable buildings all over the world, from Virginia to Guam to Haiti. The company was founded in 2009 by John Diserens and Craig Severance, both former real estate investors.
Their factory, a 100-year-old structure where U.S. naval submarines were previously built, is located on Mare Island in Vallejo, California. iMod’s frames are manufactured in Mexico and China, but at the factory they’re equipped with walls, windows, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
The building process includes transporting the outfitted frames to a construction site, offloading them with a crane, sticking them together (just like LEGOs), and of course, setting up plumbing and electrical.
The secret to iMod’s efficiency is that they only produce a single, rectangular-shaped frame. Its shape and size makes it easy to transport while also providing versatility. For example, the structures are currently being used as classrooms that can adapt to meet the changing demographics of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
“Typically, it would take nine to 15 months to manufacture a classroom out in the field,” explains Mike McKibbin, the head of operations for iMod. “We’re doing that in twelve days.”
Once the demand for classrooms in a given region dissipates, iMod can simply disassemble the structure, load up their frames, and transport them elsewhere for reuse, without having to waste materials over the long term.
Modular buildings can be disassembled and relocated for new uses, minimizing the demand for raw materials and the energy expended to produce those materials.
“We don’t want our buildings to ever end up in a landfill. Ever,” says Reed Walker, head of production and design. “We want to take that system and use it again and again and again.”
While iMod’s capabilities are already impressive, they’re only beginning to scratch the surface of what’s possible. What if entire communities could be relocated and repurposed based on population changes?
Does any new construction really need to be permanent? The utilitarian benefits of modular construction hold the potential to transform our cities and make the construction industry more sustainable as a whole.
Originally posted on looking beyond borders: As a key player in the recent Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire and with its diplomats more active than they have been in years, Egypt is back as a major influencer in Middle Eastern affairs. From Gaza to Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean to the Horn of Africa, Cairo is now key in…
Originally posted on Eli Lester: The African Colosseum in El Djem, Tunisia
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