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High life on the North Shore

High life on the North Shore

Some things just blow me away… and this is one of them.

It all started quite unexpectedly with, of all things, a press release from Cisco – that’s not meant as a slur on them, but generally with these sorts of things it’s often less epiphany and more PR puffery about new appointments or quarterly fiscal reports or new whiz-bang products. Anyhow, ‘Knowledge Economic City and Cisco Team Up to Develop World-Class Connected City’ announced the headline.

Okay, so lots of big words, I’ll admit, but I’d heard a few tantalising things about King Abdullah Economic City – to give its full name – and it piqued my interest. A quick Google had me blazing a cyber trail in search of more.

Economic City, it turns out, is a multi-billion dollar project (somewhere in the region of US$30 billion if you were interested) in Saudi Arabia aiming to create a ‘future city’ built from scratch.

The CBD will boast 3.8 million square metres of office space (more than two and half times the amount in Wellington). The Industrial District will have enough room for some 2700 business tenants. There’s plans for 300,000 residential properties, 120 hotels, schools, a university, a championship golf course, a 45,000-seater sports stadium, and a seaport with a capacity of more than 10 million, six-metre containers per year (to put that into context, the Port of Auckland handles just 770,000).

This place truly makes the mind boggle.

And connecting all this up will be a state-of-the-art IP network, providing next-gen quad play connectivity (data, voice, video and mobile communications) to all businesses and residents … which is where Cisco comes in.

Cisco will provide the network architecture for what’s called the Connected Real Estate solutions-based project. Radio Frequency Identification infrastructure will also be set up to offer automated asset tracking in the city. Cool. Hardly surprisingly, the whole kit and caboodle is expected to attract global information and communications technology firms who wish to establish operations and research-and-development facilities in Saudi Arabia.

Of course, this won’t happen overnight – eight to 10 years is the predicted timeframe here.

Anyhow, congrats to Cisco.

There was one other surprise, however. My Googling threw up an unexpected result. In a highly creditable fifth spot in my search for ‘Economic City’ came none other than North Shore City and the area’s Economic Development Agency. No really, could I make that up? Boy, that’s some search optimisation – or maybe there’s something happening on the Shore, other than bus routes and some terrific bagels from a little deli in Devonport.

Whatever. But while we’re marvelling at what the Saudis are up to … the rest of the world may be checking out the comings and goings on the North Shore. That’s technology for you.


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