September 14, 2018 by Mashood Ahmad

Maldives – The Digital Transformation into a Smart City


The signing ceremony between Calix and Maldives’ Housing Development Corporation (HDC) on September 2, formally kicked off the implementation of Asia’s first 100% Gigabit Smart City in Hulhumalé. Ahmed Nasif, Managing Director for HDC (second from right) was on hand from HDC to initiate the Hulhumalé Smart City deployment phase which will bring to fruition HDC’s vision of an all-fiber, state-of-the-art smart city that will include IT parks, entrepreneur zones, and new smart service initiatives, as part of the fastest infrastructure growth in Asia.

The next day, I had the pleasure to moderate an evening fireside chat featuring Stephen Eyre, Area Vice President of Calix Cloud and Smart Home and Business Solutions, and HDC’s Planning Director Shan Rasheed. The title of the interactive panel was “Digital Transformation of an Island City” and they discussed Hulhumalé’s digital transformation to an Open Access Smart City and the opportunity the Internet of Things (IoT) brings to the island nation’s tech community, start-ups, and software entrepreneurs.

A nation cannot be transformed without the reformation of the youth, and this being a “Youth City” presents a great opportunity for HDC to share its vision, and the importance of reaching out to the tech community. The Maldives tech community has been in the forefront hosting hackathons in conjunction with international organizations like AngelHack, and hosting incubator/accelerator programs, and panel discussions like what was held that evening. The “Digital Transformation of an Island City” tech talk was an opportunity to foster public private partnerships in the Maldives, and what turned out was a highly motivated community that was yearning to get on-board. The appetite for innovation was already in abundance and the 100% Gigabit Open Access Network being built will become a catalyst to further Maldives’ transformation to a digital society.

Some may ask, how can a small country compete globally in digital transformation? There has been precedence. Take Estonia as an example; a country with 1.3 million people, who came out of the former Soviet Union and is now named one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world. Launched in 1997, e-Estonia lets citizens file taxes online, allows Estonians to obtain medical prescriptions and test results, sign documents, even vote, and allow foreigners to become e-residents. It’s given birth to such groundbreaking applications like Skype and the technology community continues today by producing other successful startups.

With Hulhumalé’s 100% Gigabit Open Access Network - powered by Calix AXOS - the world’s first and true Access OS – the Maldives is thinking big and positioning itself for the future with its Smart City initiative. Leveraging Estonia as an aspirational example of digital transformation, the Maldives is ready. Now is the time for global companies to reach out to the tech start-ups of Maldives to see their expertise in User Experience (UX) technologies, Artificial and Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and even Software Defined Networking.

Hulhumalé’s Gigabit Open Access Network infrastructure is a “win-win” for all involved. The goal of Open Access is to give every home, business, school, hospital, and institution a gigabit to multi-gigabit experience. Since the network is owned and built by HDC and operated with the assistance of Calix Managed Services, it allows the service providers riding on top of the access network to offer more commercially attractive tiered offerings. The Maldives is in good hands – Calix has extensive experience helping customers like NorthPower (New Zealand), CityFibre (UK), Covage (France) eNet (Ireland) deploy Open Access Networks. Hulhumalé is open for business!