INTERVIEW Razvan Mocanu, Orange Romania Communications: “We want to develop the area of education and innovation in the IoT domain”
“Leveraging the expertise gained so far by Orange Business, we aim to expand our smart city portfolio with new solutions in 2024 so as to better meet the demands of the market. Additionally, we will continuously enhance our existing solutions to meet the evolving needs of our customers. All this wouldn’t be possible without our ecosystem of tech partners,” Razvan Mocanu, IoT Manager Orange Romania Communications told The Diplomat-Bucharest.
“In addition, as part of the #OrangeForward local strategy, by 2026 Orange aims to be the top choice for sustainable connectivity solutions and integrated digital services in Romania. Thus, we want to approach solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of our clients, as well as to increase the area of renewable energy.
Another objective is to strengthen the existing partnerships with solution providers with experience in the production and design of Smart City systems on a global and local level. The interoperability of solutions and applications is confirmed precisely by establishing partnerships with suppliers or manufacturers of Smart City solutions whose specifications and performances are ensured by tests and certifications carried out by national or international accredited laboratories or organizations, in compliance with specialized standards.”
What were the most important Smart City projects you implemented in 2022 and 2023?
“For us, all projects are important, as each one has its own impact within the community. Thus, while pilot projects help us develop, test and improve the performance and operations of local administrations and utility companies, with limited impact on budget and integrating the scalability from the get-go, commercial projects require a lot of attention because we implement complex solutions that have a direct impact on the social and economic environment of the city and community. And here I am referring, for example, to energy efficiency solutions that can reduce electricity consumption and, at the same time, reduce the value of the bills that the customer will have to pay – to name only one scope of benefits.
Until now, 2022 and 2023 have been years marked by challenging projects from all directions: sale, implementation, acceptance. First, we won and started the implementation of new projects in the area of intelligent lighting, and here I mention the municipalities of Campulung and Focsani. Secondly, we’ve started projects for universities such as Constantin Brancusi University in Targu Jiu and Petrosani University, where we implement data centers that include hardware and software solutions for processing and storage. Data centers play an essential role in supporting the operations of Smart City solutions, providing support for the storage, processing, and securing of data essential for the efficient functioning of smart cities. We have also successfully completed other projects in the areas of energy efficiency, intelligent lighting and charging stations for electric vehicles.
At this moment we have over 30 cities and many more localities covered with smart city solutions and we are still deploying new projects.”
What Smart City projects are you currently implementing and who are the partners?
“Some of the projects mentioned above are still in the implementation phase, and besides these we have another important project in the area of waste management that helps to maintain a clean city, reduces logistics costs by up to 40%, provides detailed information on container fill levels, improves visibility of collection issues, and offers new and innovative charging models. At the same time, we continue our innovation projects powered by the two Orange 5G Labs we have in Iasi and Bucharest.
It is through the 5G Lab in Iasi that we’ve developed, alongside Continental Iasi, a pilot project for connected intelligent intersections that aims to develop systems that allow automated and connected vehicles to coordinate their driving behaviour when passing through these intersections. They will help reduce the number of incidents and protect vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. The solution combines video image processing assisted by artificial intelligence with the benefits brought by the connection to a 5G network and an edge-computing solution.
Raja Constanța, the largest public regional operator in the field of drinking water supply and wastewater treatment, developed together with Orange Business a remote maintenance project with the help of the Augmented Team solution. Thanks to this solution, employees have simultaneous access to several work points, resulting in faster interventions and reductions in operational costs (for instance, energy savings). The remote assistance application combines augmented reality (AR) and real-time video transmission to connect several people simultaneously, and the Orange 5G infrastructure ensures good quality of video streams through low latencies and high speeds.
We are also implementing new projects in the area of smart metering for water and gas. Management and automation solutions for water or gas distribution processes allow real-time control over networks, resources, costs and activity revenues.
The partners we work with in such projects are global partners that offer innovative and stable solutions, but there are also partners in the Orange Fab accelerator, which has a number of 50 start-ups enrolled in the program since 2017. The solutions developed by the start-ups are in areas such as logistics and intelligent warehouse management, remote navigation of marine cargo ships, software for remote control of humanoid robots through a VR solution and many more.
Orange Fab is based on technology partnerships through which Orange supports the start-ups that enter the program to be as close as possible to customers throughout their product development journey, to test their products, to benefit from access to connectivity from Orange and to various new technologies, such as 5G.”
What are the challenges regarding the implementation of smart solutions in Romania?
“Orange Business has prepared to respond to the specific requirements of communities in Romania through a wide range of solutions. During the implementation of the solutions, as well as in the following period, it has been observed that the perceptions of the communities are different, even if they are from the same category (municipalities, towns, communes). For example, they are influenced by the area, culture, history, degree of comfort etc. This means that we must have a proactive and flexible approach in relation with the communities and their representatives, in order to understand and implement their customized needs.
At the same time, the challenges we face at Orange Business, no matter their scope are a resource that can fuel the development of new solutions or options for current projects.”
What is the vision of Orange Business for smart solutions in Romanian communities?
“Considering our experience regarding communities and customer requirements, we have developed a portfolio of solutions that covers the main verticals for smart city, notably connectivity, e-governance, cyber security, data analytics and solutions dedicated to utility companies and smart urban infrastructure, based on the Internet of Things (IoT). But solutions on their own can only do so much. That’s why we believe that what cities need is an open and interoperable platform of intelligent solutions that not only communicate with each other, but also allow further development based on the collected data.
When talking about smart cities, we must first cover the connectivity needs of various solutions. We’re talking about the widest connectivity options currently offered by an operator, starting from the traditional optic fibre, continuing with radio infrastructure like 4G and 5G, and ending with IoT specific networks.
We might have mobile Wi-Fi for public transport, that can support, beside the basic connectivity needs of passengers, real time tracking for buses, as well as speed and direction of the vehicle. This also enables other solutions, such as infotainment – if we’re talking about future use cases – and air quality monitoring.
Then, when considering solutions such as smart metering or video surveillance, one must choose the right type of network. What sets Orange Business apart is our ability to offer a unique IoT network portfolio. We have implemented various LPWA (Low Power Wide Area) networks, using LoRaWAN, LTE-M or NB-IoT technologies, depending on the specific architecture of each city.
Overall of this, we need cyber security solutions, especially if we’re talking about critical infrastructure projects.”
What are your goals and priorities for 2024?
“Leveraging the expertise gained so far by Orange Business, we aim to expand our smart city portfolio with new solutions in 2024 so as to better meet the demands of the market. Additionally, we will continuously enhance our existing solutions to meet the evolving needs of our customers. All this wouldn’t be possible without our ecosystem of tech partners.
The Smart City solutions will contain even more elements that bring added value to our customers, and here I am referring to the unique capabilities that Orange has in the infrastructure area, a dedicated infrastructure in which connectivity and interoperability offer the necessary flexibility to build solutions that consider the requirements and particularities of the communities they address.
In addition, as part of the #OrangeForward local strategy, by 2026 Orange aims to be the top choice for sustainable connectivity solutions and integrated digital services in Romania. Thus, we want to approach solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of our clients, as well as to increase the area of renewable energy.
Another objective is to strengthen the existing partnerships with solution providers with experience in the production and design of Smart City systems on a global and local level. The interoperability of solutions and applications is confirmed precisely by establishing partnerships with suppliers or manufacturers of Smart City solutions whose specifications and performances are ensured by tests and certifications carried out by national or international accredited laboratories or organizations, in compliance with specialized standards.
At the same time, we want to develop the area of education and innovation in the IoT domain by getting involved in innovation projects, as well as by supporting specific training through partners from the academic environment.”