Experts discuss building blocks of smarter societies


Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — As Saudi Arabia is on its way to shift to a knowledge-based economy, the level of expertise and infrastructure in high performance computing will determine the competitiveness of a nation and its global standing, according to experts here.

High performance computing and big data applications, particularly smart city and society applications, would be among the key forces to drive innovation and help move towards Vision 2030, according to Dr. Iyad Katib, Vice Dean and College Council Secretary at the Faculty of Computing & Information Technology and director of the High Performance Computing Center (HPCC) at King Abdulaziz University.

King Abdulaziz University is hosting a three-day conference titled The First International Conference on Smarter Societies Infrastructure, Technologies and Applications (SCITA 2017), bringing international and Saudi policy makers, academics, and industry leaders to discuss building smarter societies. “There’s a recent attention by the government to builder smart societies,” said Dr. Katib. “This comprises how to provide services in a smarter way and how it affects all dimensions of our lives such as healthcare, transportation, how we do business, and so on.”

Projects like NEOM show keenness by the government on the topic of connected and smart societies, he further said. “Research in this field will be vital in the coming years. We need to build the capacity here and start depending on local expertise in this field. Knowledge, human and social capital will be key to drive smart societies. ”

Experts will discuss challenges such as infrastructure to connect entities together, among others. Focusing on Saudi Arabia, the conference covers e-governance, healthcare, mobility, infrastructure and promoting entrepreneurship.

The smart city phenomenon is driven by several trends including a pressing need for environmental sustainability, and peoples’ increasing demands for personalization, mobility and higher quality of life. However, smart societies have a broader notion of digitally enabling citizens working towards sustainability.

The HPCC, organizing the conference, is building up hardware and software capacity in big data and high performance computing as well as the applications that are powered by these technologies. The center aims to develop and contribute to an ecosystem of several parties that would create, and accelerate adoption of high performance computing, big data and digital applications in Saudi Arabia.

The university’s super Computer “AZIZ”, launched in 2015, is being used by a number of researchers in different fields such as computer sciences, aviation engineering, chemistry, physics, genomics, marine studies and climate sciences.

High Performance Computing has become a basic instrument of research in natural, engineering and technological sciences to solve complex mathematical problems that require swift solution and a large memory to store the data.