Our lives are being revolutionized by intelligent things that promise to transform daily life. Switch on a light in your home from hundreds of miles away. Your house, sensing that you left, automatically adjusts climate control. Your refrigerator pipes up when you’re running low on milk. A digital assistant reads your mail and updates you on the day’s breaking news.
We’re looking at a future where humans and machines connect, and seamlessly work together. As we watch all sectors of the economy, and all aspects of our daily lives change due to connectivity, we need to think about this shift as a connected society. We’re seeking great technical progress, where we’ll reap countless benefits.
However, this rapid movement toward connecting everything and everyone inherently generates serious cyber vulnerability and risk, such as loss of privacy, business stoppage, and the worry that intelligent things will jeopardize public safety—just to name a few. As we move through this evolutionary journey, citizens, businesses, and governments must take proactive actions to ensure our future is secure.
Energy and utilities are facing some of the greatest sustainability challenges of any sector in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Exacerbating the slow and steady depletion of the region’s finite resources is an energy consumption on the rise, with Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain displaying among the highest rates of per capita primary energy consumption in the world. The imbalance between limited supply and near-insatiable demand is stark, and the need to address it is urgent.
Here, a number of key factors come into play. Public awareness, leadership, discipline, and a desire among stakeholders to focus on sustainability in the first place are all fundamental to the future of the energy and utilities industries—but it is in the area of innovation that some of the greatest challenges and potential lie. The troubling reality is that, at the level of industry, the Gulf’s energy and utilities sectors remain among the most lacking when it comes to innovation and R&D.