Smart cities: How technology is helping rebuild war-torn regions

Smart cities: How technology is helping rebuild war-torn regions

For more than three decades, the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh has been at the heart of numerous disagreements between neighboring nations of the Caucasus, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Recognized internationally as part of Azerbaijan, the territory was until recently ruled mostly by Armenians. During the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, which began in the late 1980s and lasted until 1994, Armenia succeeded in seizing the region and most of those surrounding it.

In the years that followed, while a ceasefire agreement was in effect, the two sides experienced occasional conflagrations. However, at the end of September last year, a large-scale conflict broke out again between the two former Soviet republics. This time, in a war that lasted 44 days, Azerbaijan recovered almost all of the territories lost in the previous war.

Now, as Azerbaijan strives to gradually rebuild the fighting-ravaged country, authorities hope technology can play a central role in encouraging citizens to return to the region, through the creation of smart cities. offering a better way of life.

Smart cities pilot projects

According to urban planning expert and associate professor at ADA Baku University, Anar Valiyev, building new communities supported by digital equipment will make the region more attractive. Not only for those looking to return, but also for those who remained in the region during the conflict. “Another reason is the signal that the government wants to send to the whole population on the way the authorities are going to operate in the region, which will be completely different, much more efficient, more effective and based on equity”, Anar Valiyev explains to ZDNet.

An initial planning period will be followed by a pilot project which will see the construction of a number of “smart cities” – called Aghaly-1, Aghaly-2 and Aghaly-3 – in the Zangilan region, in the Haut- Karabakh. More than 200 homes will be built using innovative building materials, such as recycled steel and precast concrete, and connected to connected utilities for electricity, gas and waste management.

The first phase of the pilot project was launched in February 2021. “The project itself will mainly consist of five components – housing, manufacturing, social services, connected agriculture and alternative energy,” Inam Karimov, Minister of Agriculture of Agriculture, told ZDNet. Azerbaijan. “Alternative energy sources will be used for all residential buildings, social facilities, office buildings, catering, processing and production of agricultural products. “

Bridging the digital divide

According to the Baku Research Institute, there is currently a 20 percentage point gap between rural and urban households in fixed internet penetration, mainly due to shortages of fixed infrastructure and lower levels of digital literacy. in rural areas.

These projects could also encourage young Azerbaijanis to travel to the Nagorno-Karabakh region in search of new opportunities.

Azerbaijani authorities immediately started planning the reconstruction of Agdam after the end of the conflict, in November 2020. According to plans, the city will be the fourth largest city in Azerbaijan when completed, with a population of 100,000 – although things are still at a very early stage.

“We are at the planning stage and are currently conceptualizing different sites,” Emin Huseynov, Azerbaijani economist and special representative in Agdam district, told ZDNet. “However, the most important is the basic infrastructure, which is currently being built. When it’s in place, we’ll start building the city. “

Develop information technologies

The development of smart cities is expected to be a boon for the Azerbaijani information and communication technology (ICT) industry, which is still in its infancy in the country and its oil-based economy.

In 2016, ICT was among the 11 economic sectors that the Azerbaijani authorities identified as being of strategic importance to the country. The country has now adopted a strategic roadmap for its development. However, according to a report by IPHR and Azerbaijan Internet Watch, in 2020 the ICT sector accounted for only 1.6% of Azerbaijan’s total GDP.

“I think the ICT sector will develop faster, because the development of smart cities also requires a faster development of information technology,” Anar Valiyev told ZDNet, adding that many young people in the country are starting to grow up. orient towards subjects related to computer science, such as computer science and systems engineering.

There is also a lot of interest in IT and agriculture. Dmitry Andrianov, founder of the tech magazine InfoCity, based in Baku, believes that the development of smart cities and towns in the Karabakh territories should spur further development of the Azerbaijani technology sector, and highlights the growth of the young start-up IoT Sumaks, and the start-up agritech Kibrit.

“All of this contributes to the creation of a sustainable demand for young IT professionals,” assures Dmitry Andrianov.

Source: ZDNet.com

For more than three decades, the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh has been at the heart of numerous disagreements between neighboring nations of the Caucasus, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Recognized internationally as part of Azerbaijan, the territory was until recently ruled mostly by Armenians. During the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, which began in the late 1980s and lasted…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *