Smart Cities: Incorporating Technology into Waterfront Spaces in Jeddah

Smart Cities: Incorporating Technology into Waterfront Spaces in Jeddah


Waterfront areas are the prime destination for families and individuals seeking relaxation and entertainment.  Governments and private sectors alike strive to revitalize waterfront spaces constantly to enhance the public experience. Recently, Saudi Arabia embarked on an ambitious project to modernize the waterfront in the coastal city of Jeddah, aiming at conveying social and economic advantages to support Jeddah’s global competitiveness by bringing excellence in urban design, but fell short to incorporate advanced technology infrastructure to enrich the public experience. In comparison, utilizing ICT technology, Dubai offers innovative coastal areas designs yielding superb public experience. A survey undergoes execution to highlight the potential of technology- enabled waterfront design while focusing on public experience. Moreover, the study highlighted the main technologies that facilitate the development of smart waterfront within the urban design framework. According to the findings of the study, it is appropriate to consider integrating smart strategies such as Wi-Fi applications, specific mobile applications, information center, and public market space, as well as outdoor activity space. These strategies will be valuable in improving the image and reputation of the city as a competitive destination in the global context.

Keywords: Revitalization, Waterfront development, Using ICT technologies, Public Space, Public Experience

Smart Cities: Incorporating Technology into Waterfront Spaces in Jeddah


The quality of our environment has enormous implications for the standard of living, as well as daily productivity levels. One of the mechanisms towards creating or improving the quality of life, especially in Jeddah, is through generation or creation of waterfront streets and valuable spaces. In the recent years, the Saudi government has focused on executing a major project with the objective of renewing, as well as modernizing the waterfront within the context of the coastal city of Jeddah. The objective of the waterfront revitalization in the region is to highlight the social and economic advantages, thus, the opportunity to enhance the competitiveness of the city. The project aims at generating excellence in the urban design.

Nevertheless, the project lacks the platform to demonstrate utilization of innovative approaches towards the realization of sustainable advanced technology infrastructure. Integration of smart strategies might be valuable in enabling the coastal and waterfront communities to improve the quality of their lives, thus, the urge to incorporate and implement advanced ICT tools. The coast of Dubai, under the influence of the pioneering technology, continues to offer effective understanding regarding the design along the cost with the ability and potentiality to yield better public thriving and successful regions. In the course of executing this research project, the focus was on the following three research questions:

  1. What makes a successful smart urban waterfront? What are smart cities strategies?
  2. How does the public perceive urban waterfront experience in Jeddah?
  • How is appropriate to use ICT in waterfront spaces in Jeddah?

Background Information/Literature Review

Various researchers have focused on the assessment of the topic of study through incorporating diverse concepts and perspective. One of such kinds of literature is the MESSINA project (2005). The documentation represents an international example with the objective of illustrating the Dubai Coastal Zone Monitoring program. It is valuable to note that the relevant authorities in UAE focused on setting a comprehensive coastal monitoring program for the Dubai coastal zone to adhere to the extensive infrastructural development in the last three decades.

The Jumeirah frontage is one of the key elements enabling Dubai to expand its tourism prowess to the region. The monitoring program plays a critical role in enabling the Dubai Municipality to facilitate effective and efficient management of the ICZM. The objective of the program is to facilitate the development of the existing data sets while utilizing the recognized techniques and mechanisms in the industry. The approach is valuable for the generation of adequate and appropriate information to enhance the platform for the municipality of Dubai to execute further development regarding the existing coastal zone management capability. It is possible to incorporate such projects in the case of Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah.

El-Ela, Soliman, & Amin (2007) sought to utilize the cases of Jeddah and Alexandria to facilitate assessment of the cultural, as well as physical influences regarding the urban waterfronts. According to this research article, behavioral outdoor activities refer to the actions, which enable participants to interact with the outdoor environment, thus, the physical and social elements. These aspects have the tendency to influence the motivation of the participants and types of activities taking place under the influence of the ‘affordance theory.’ Waterfront is an open space with diverse implications. The article notes that a waterfront highlights the physical container of the culture relating to the participants, thus, the opportunity to express the people. From this perspective, the waterfront is an expression of who the individuals are as a culture. Waterfront ensures that participants engage in activities with the potentiality of fulfilling their needs while correlating with their culture. The individuals have the opportunity to utilize the waterfront to accommodate the environment, as well as its implications for the growth and development of the communities. This study sought to examine the economic, social, environmental, and preservation issues regarding waterfront regeneration schemes.

In his article, Alhajaj (2014) focused on evaluation and assessment of the new forms of public open space in the context of Jeddah. The objective of the author was to evaluate potential urban design scenarios with the opportunity to increase the provision of public open space, thus, the platform towards enhancing the urban health regarding rapid growth of Saudi Arabian metropolis. The article notes that Jeddah is the second largest city in Saudi Arabia with a population of 3.4 million. The latest WHO statistics demonstrate that 36.5 percent of the Saudi Arabians are obese. On the other hand, 31 percent of the population tends to suffer from hypertension. The author tends to cite the absence of official public open space in the city as the source of inappropriate and hazardous forms of open space. Such issues include integration of large traffic islands, vacant blocks, local streets, major roadsides, and undercrofts regarding bypasses in the city.

Ataov (1998) sought to generate research on the emotional reactions, as well as perceived opportunities for activities regarding urban waterfronts on children. From this perspective, it is valuable to note that urban waterfronts have enormous implications on the emotional and behavioral experiences among children. The objective of the study was to assess and explore the emotional and behavioral responses to the urban waterfront scenes by the children. In the course of achieving the objective of this research, the research focused on using 90 9-to-11 years-old children from diverse schools, ethnicities, and gender backgrounds. According to the findings of the study, there is a positive relationship between ‘aesthetic value’ of children and the attributes’ naturalness, information, and order. Similarly, children have the tendency of perceiving urban waterfront scenes in two critical dimensions: naturalness/artificial and disorder/compatible.

Crot (2013) focused on the utilization of the case of Masdar City in the course of demonstrating the urge or need for sustainability in addressing the demands and expectations of the target audiences. From this perspective, effective urban planning and designing are essential in the course of pursuing sustainability. There is a need to incorporate and exploit technology while focusing on achieving effective and efficient planning in the modern context.

Crombie (1992) did recommend regeneration of the Toronto’s waterfront to enable the city to achieve sustainability. From this perspective, regeneration of the waterfront is one of the mechanisms towards the realization of a sustainable city. There is a need for Jeddah to consider incorporation of some of the recommendations from this commissioner’s report regarding the concept of regeneration. Fagence (1995) sought to advocate for the redevelopment of City waterfront for three critical reasons: leisure, recreation, and tourism. Integration of regeneration project is valuable in enhancing the economic, social, and environmental aspects of the community. In the course of executing these projects, there is a need for the practitioners to understand and consider the role of citizens in the realization of the goals and targets of the smart city projects (Gooch, Wolff, Kortuem, & Brown, 2015).

Categorically, Gospodini (2001) focused on the evaluation of the cases of urban waterfront redevelopment in Greek cities. This research article is essential in understanding one of the major frameworks, which might be available for the redesigning of the space cities in the digital era. From his perspective, Hurley (2006) focused on narrating the urban waterfront, thus, the platform towards understanding the influence of the public history concerning or regarding the concept of community revitalization.

In their research, Middleton, Longford, Clement, & Potter (2006) sought to explore the role and influence of ICT infrastructure as public infrastructure. The article was essential in exploring and examining the potential benefits of the public wireless networks. Alternatively, Barnaghi, Bermudez-Edo, & Toenjes (2015) sought to examine potential challenges regarding the quality of data within the context of the smart cities.

Schaffers, Komninos, Pallot, Trousse, Nilsson, & Oliveira (2011) focused on the assessment of the relationship between the smart cities and future internet. The research did provide the platform for understanding the adoption of cooperation frameworks with the objective of utilizing open innovation. Ganea (2013) focused on the evaluation of the city pulse through examination of the real-time stream processing, as well as large-scale data analytics for the smart city applications. These findings did provide the platform for this research to bridging the existing gap concerning the examination of the role of ICT in the development and monitoring of the urban waterfront, thus, increased examination of the smart cities.


The study focused on execution of a survey (See appendix) with the objective of expressing the potential technology development of waterfront design while focusing on the public space experience as a main component. The research design focused on generating the platform to facilitate realization of the goals and targets regarding the following research questions:

  1. What makes a successful smart urban waterfront? What are smart cities strategies?
  2. How does the public perceive urban waterfront experience in Jeddah?
  • How is appropriate to use ICT in waterfront spaces in Jeddah?

The research process or methodology did incorporate three critical stages. The first stage focused on the generation or development of effective survey questions in the form of the three research questions. The second stage focused on the administration of the survey or questionnaire regarding the research questions. The third phase sought to analyze and report the survey results with the objective of making valuable references relating to the research questions and scope of the study. There are two types of surveys: questionnaire and interview approaches. This study sought to utilize questionnaire’s approach to facilitating the realization of the quantitative research design for the collection of adequate data. The research focused on using randomly sampled participants of 50 individuals from the learning institutions on their perception regarding the three critical research questions. The next phase of the study did incorporate documentation of the research findings as evident in the section below.


What makes a successful smart urban waterfront?

Since this question was open to the research participants, there were diverse perceptions regarding a successful smart urban waterfront. One of the essential issues emanating from this exercise was the integration of the surrounding buildings with the ability and potentiality to maximize the public space. According to the research participants with this response, any building on the waterfront should have the capacity to boost any activity regarding the public spaces within the environment for the realization of a successful smart urban waterfront. Secondly, the research participants did highlight the influence of limits regarding residential development. The environment is one of the platforms full of people during the day, as well as at night. This makes it essential to limit the domination of the great waterfronts by residential development.

The research participants did note that successful waterfronts in smart urban areas must thrive on activities, which go on round-the-clock in the course of the year. The cities will have the ability and platform to reap substantive communal, as well as economic benefits. Effective waterfronts should consider the integration of flexibility in the designing approaches, which will provide the opportunity towards the realization of adaptability. Successful waterfronts should also consider the integration of creative amenities with the ability and potentiality to boost the enjoyment of every citizen. There should be increased accessibility to the location through the boat, foot, and bike. The research participants also noted the influence of successful waterfront destinations in displaying or highlighting the identity of the local culture. There is also need to emphasize on the water itself as one of the centers of attraction in the course of pursuing a successful waterfront in the urban centers. Successful waterfronts should consider integrating iconic buildings with the capacity to serve diverse functions within the region. Finally, the research participants were able to identify the role and influence of good management in the course of facilitating the maintenance of the community vision.

What are smart cities strategies?

According to the findings of this study, smart cities have diverse adaptive strategies in pursuit of successful urban waterfronts. The research was able to identify various adaptive strategies at different scales. One of the critical smart strategies would be adoption of cellphone applications, which are specific to the region of interest or focus. From this perspective, it would be appropriate to consider adoption of ‘Jeddah’s Waterfront App,’ which will enable visitors to this destination to have increased access to information concerning the region (Nam& Pardo, 2011). In addition, city planners and designers might consider integrating of the ‘walking traffic lights sensors’ as elements of smart strategies towards transforming Jeddah City into one of the most favorable destinations in the 21stcentury. Similarly, the city might consider utilization or exploitation of technological advancements. This is through incorporation of websites or information centers, which users can access on the internet platforms to have enhanced knowledge on the city and destination.

The city might also consider integration of free Wi-Fi in specific areas within the city as a smart strategy towards transforming the region into one of the most competitive cities in the global context. Furthermore, it is critical for the region to consider integrating outdoor event spaces, as well as public market spaces as smart strategies, which will enable individuals to have valuable experience whenever they visit the city. These strategies will contribute towards improving the image and reputation of the city in the modern or digital era. Consequently, the city will be able to attract more tourists as a global and competitive destination in the context of Saudi Arabia. It is possible to use these strategies to improve the revenues to the city council or relevant authorities for further development or improvement of the image of the city.

How does the public perceive urban waterfront experience in Jeddah?

According to the research participants, there are diverse perceptions regarding urban waterfront experience in Jeddah. These research participants were hopeful regarding influences or implications of the urban waterfront experiences in the case of Jeddah. In the first instance, certain research participants did note that urban waterfront experience would have economic and social implications for the growth of Jeddah city. On the other hand, certain research participants did highlight the role of such experience in displaying the identity and competitiveness of the city in the global context. Thirdly, the research participants highlighted the influence of such waterfront experiences in the beautification of the city, thus, provision of an appropriate image and reputation in the global context. Other research participants sought to express the fact that such experiences would improve the quality of life for the citizens through the creation of leisure and recreational activities for the target audiences. Categorically, the research participants did have positive perceptions regarding the concept of urban waterfront experience in the context of Jeddah.

How is appropriate to use ICT in waterfront spaces in Jeddah?

According to the findings of this survey, ICT can be a valuable tool in the waterfront spaces in Jeddah, thus, the platform for the provision of the support in the development of intelligent communities. Some research participants did note the importance of ICT in the course of enhancing the global competitiveness of Jeddah city, thus, opportunity for the designers to incorporate innovative approaches towards the realization of sustainable development. ICT will also offer the desired outcomes regarding the use of advanced technology infrastructure in pursuit of effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of the essential good or desires of the project (Chourabi, Nam, Walker, Gil-Garcia, Mellouli, Nahon, & Scholl, 2012).

The research participants did note that the ICT would provide the backbone component to effective management, monitoring, and improvement of the activities in the public place concerning the case of Jeddah. Research participants did highlight the influence of ICT in facilitating programs such as video surveillance with the objective of improving the public security and safety. ICT might also play a critical role in providing a platform for the generation of analytic solution with the intention of optimizing water consumption, parking management, transport, and traffic monitoring. Some research participants did note the potentiality of ICT in enabling Jeddah city to thrive in the innovative approach to integration of data and adequate systems to break down valuable information.


In the course of adapting appropriate waterfront infrastructures in the case of Jeddah City, Saudi Arabia, there is a need for the development practitioners and authorities to focus on utilization of inventory adaptive strategies. These strategies are essential in the provision of strategies, as well as guidance in the course of determining the

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