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Resilience means successfully handling unexpected circumstances as they happen and having the ability to withstand their environmental, political, economic and social impact. With this in mind, a solid resilience strategy is an essential tool for today’s modern enterprises and cities.

Enterprises around the world are surrounded by waves of interconnected disruptions, influencing business plans and challenging their ability to adapt and survive. As a result, industry leaders must transform into resilient digital businesses where value creation is maximized by the use of fast-evolving and innovative technologies.

With regard to cities, urbanization is one of the four demographic mega-trends expected to continue, resulting in nearly 70% of the world’s population living in urban areas by 2050. The World Health Organization (WHO) released guidance for national and local authorities towards strengthening emergency preparedness in cities and urban settings. In the digital age, where regions, countries and cities are more interconnected than ever, authorities can utilize technologies and ICT investments for policy implementation and capacity building.

Sufficient capacity; continuous monitoring; security provisions; high availability of services; and disaster and risk recovery and management are some of the key aspects of a resilience strategy.

Regardless of the size and duration, emergency situations present a potential risk to an individual’s health and livelihood, organizational and societal welfare and the wider environment. These require urgent action to restore operations to the previous steady state or new strategies to adapt to changes in the present.

Emerging technologies, including those related to Industry 4.0, are well positioned to help in building or reconfiguring resilience capabilities empowered by strong ICT infrastructure.

Role of ICT in Resilience Strategy

In the context of resiliency, we’ll focus on mission-critical operations and how telecom operators and Earth observation (EO) data providers can work alongside authorities and enterprises to maximize ICT technologies.

When an unforeseen situation happens, the operations typically rely on the stability of the network infrastructure in order to communicate. If the network goes down, businesses, governments and residents, in general, are affected. It's critically important for servers and storage systems to be fail-proof or have a backup in case of network downtime.

In emergencies, authorities should accurately map the whereabouts of particularly vulnerable groups through the use of technologies like geographic information systems (GIS) and other forms of geo-data or spatial mapping. Investing in the basic requisite digital and ICT infrastructure and technology for data analysis is also crucial; this enables end-to-end decision support systems to effectively extend from the national down to the local levels.

Another important strategy is that of improving automated alert and warning capabilities through the use of the Internet of Things (IoT), which involves developing and testing sensor technology that can provide real-time updates on weather conditions, rising water levels and other environmental metrics.

The enhanced information processing and visualization capabilities of modern computing hardware and software can also enable better documentation of the needs that have to be met. If the information processing capabilities are coupled with ICT to enable both superior field data collection and effective dissemination to those who can best address the needs, the performance is even greater.

Another role of ICT in resilience strategy is allowing synchronous and asynchronous communication across space, enabling greater coordination of spatially separated actors. This is especially important when a disaster has a geographically wide scope and physical transportation systems are not working.

As we have seen in the case of Tonga, satellite‐based communication systems are among the most reliable, especially for emergency first responders. EO data providers gather key information about the physical, chemical and biological systems of the planet by using observation satellites — remote-sensing technologies — or through direct-contact sensors in either the ground or atmosphere.

With the right EO data stack, governments and the private sector can assess current ground conditions as well as changes in temperature and geology over time and, with that information, determine potential future risks. As commercial satellite imagery continues to be developed cost-efficiently, this allows for more accurate emergency response planning and current ICT infrastructure and urban resource management.

As for telecom operators, notably in the West, AT&T’s FirstNet mission is committed to deploying, operating, maintaining and improving the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. This reliable, interoperable and innovative public safety communications platform will bring 21st-century tools to public safety agencies and first responders.

When we circle back to the GCC, telecom operators are also well-positioned to provide such networks and related services due to their robust and advanced ICT infrastructure. According to experts, telecom operators have the option to serve as mission-critical LTE providers, either jointly or individually. These include upgrading commercial networks; establishing a greenfield mission-critical network; or launching a hybrid brownfield network.

Communications, video and telemetry are among the main telecom offerings that can be monetized in this particular use case. But to succeed in mission-critical services, telecom operators need to act in three areas: network deployment strategy, a go-to-market approach and operations capabilities.

For an effective combination of the resilience approach and smart technology, big data tools and artificial intelligence are prioritized. Smart and resilient system services can offer much more rapid action, which can largely minimize the damage and likely speed up the recovery phase of the systems as well. It can reinforce adaptive capacity when needed through community involvement and improved emergency response.

Digital Resiliency With Data

Data is critical to building effective resilience plans, considering that the information is made to be actionable. Aside from simply accessing network data, one needs to be able to act on that information in time to mitigate pending failures, bottlenecks and situations that affect operations and network availability.

The use of AI and machine learning can take collecting, correlating and visualizing data to another level. This can be done by highlighting the correlations and patterns and then using that information to derive insights, discover issues and plan the environment correctly.

Another important aspect to consider is data resilience, wherein a set of technologies and strategies can help maintain data availability and ensure it is always accessible, thus minimizing any disruptions or downtime. These can include cluster storage, data replication, backup and disaster recovery.

Revisiting the mission-critical context, a proper data analytics strategy is valuable in order to have the capacity to create resilient analytics results. This strategy aids in quickly adapting and deploying high-performing and trusted analytics for the best response.

In the Middle East region, more senior business decision-makers (SDMs) are now looking at data both differently and strategically. According to a recent report, organizations that had mature enterprise data strategies in place for at least 12 months were more likely to achieve higher profit growth at an average rate of 6%.

Data resiliency has been likened to having spare house keys on hand — the more sets you have in different spots, the less likely you are to be locked out. Such thinking can apply to the business landscape as well; the more choices an organization has for digital resiliency, the more likely it will succeed.

Digital resiliency is about acknowledging, augmenting and even modifying the interdependencies and risks associated with such systems. In doing so, cities, states and provinces can use these technologies to best respond to changing events or disruptions and better serve their citizens.

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