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Interview: Amit McCann on smart city BSS project in Egypt

Amit Acud

Cerillion is working closely with Nokia and Orange to provide the mission-critical business support systems (BSS) for Egypt’s new smart city. We spoke with Amit McCann, Account Development Director at Cerillion, to find out more.

Connected services, traffic management, waste reduction – smart cities are changing the face of urban living by creating more efficient, sustainable places to live for millions of people across the world.

Cerillion is excited to join this revolution, partnering with Nokia and Orange for Egypt’s Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD) smart city project, powering new retail and wholesale services in the new capital with our BSS/OSS product suite.

First announced by the Egyptian government in 2015, ACUD is situated 60km east of Cairo and covers over 700km2. The new city will house an administrative district for central government, as well as residential neighbourhoods and a cultural district, and the largest certified tiered data centre in Africa.

Purpose-built from the ground up to ease the crowding in Cairo’s ever-growing urban centre, this smart capital city is being developed with connected infrastructure to provide digital services to citizens that will foster new opportunities for economic growth, creating an estimated 1.75 million new jobs for the region.

We spoke with Amit McCann, Cerillion’s Account Development Director, about the company’s role in the project, and how this cutting-edge smart city infrastructure will improve the lives of its residents.
Hi Amit, following the recent ACUD announcement by Nokia, can you tell us a bit more about the project?
Cerillion is proud to be involved in the creation of the new smart capital of Egypt, the Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD), alongside Nokia and Orange. It’s an exciting and hugely ambitious project, building a brand-new city in the middle of the desert, but as a greenfield site it presents the opportunity to “connect” everything using the latest fibre networks and IoT, future-proofing it for many years to come. Once complete it will house up to 7 million inhabitants and be a hub of smart and sustainable services for residents and businesses alike, including smart metering/utilities, traffic management, security, and a wide range of connectivity and cloud services.
What problem is Cerillion’s software solving for ACUD, and how will it benefit its citizens?
We are connecting ACUD’s citizens and retail service providers to the services they require in real-time, providing the orchestration to activate and bill for these services using our BSS/OSS product suite. Our pre-integrated solution includes the following key components:

  • Enterprise Product Catalogue – a unified catalogue for all retail and wholesale services
  • CRM Plus – for managing complex customer hierarchies (B2B and B2C) and customer contracts
  • Revenue Manager – for billing, accounts receivable, payments and collections
  • Service Manager – for service orchestration and fulfilment
  • Network Inventory – master address management and service qualification
  • Integration Layer – including TM Forum Open APIs and our Wholesale Gateway for connecting the retail service providers

Our modules are also integrated with components from Nokia’s AVA software suite, as well as ACUD’s Citizen Engagement Platform.
This is not a “normal” BSS/OSS transformation project for a CSP, but a greenfield rollout for a brand new smart city. What have been the key challenges?
As mentioned before, this is a hugely ambitious and complex project, involving multiple different suppliers and stakeholders. The key to this type of project is breaking it down into bite-size chunks rather than trying to “eat the elephant” in one go. It’s impossible to specify every detail upfront for such a pioneering smart city project, so we have remained flexible in our approach to ensure that our solutions and integrations align with the end-to-end goal.

Having a robust project methodology, with strong governance and change control, is crucial to managing and delivering a project of this scale successfully. Thankfully, this is something we have a huge amount of experience with, having delivered many complex and unusual BSS projects over the last 20+ years. And by utilising the latest version of our product suite with standards-based TM Forum Open APIs, we have been able to achieve faster and more efficient integration of the solution.
And how have the teams from Cerillion, Nokia and Orange all collaborated?
Working in collaboration with Nokia and Orange has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and we have successfully delivered a complex solution within aggressive timelines. We would normally take overall ownership of the BSS solution and its delivery, but in this programme we are one part of a much bigger machine, and there are many parties that need to deliver with a coordinated and disciplined delivery approach. It has been essential to ensure that various suppliers, located in different countries and speaking different languages, come together and provide a seamless solution, and I’m really proud of how we have achieved this.

You must remember that the project started during COVID, so this added an extra dimension of complexity too. When the travel restrictions were lifted and the team were able to go to site, this really helped to build momentum and cemented the working relationships that had been forged remotely.
Which teams from Cerillion have been on site and what is the new smart city actually like?
Our teams in India, Bulgaria, and the UK have all been on-site, engaging with our partners and the customer. We have shown our solution to the customer, gained their confidence, and provided belief that the smart city will come alive. Having been there myself, it has been a great inspiration to work in the shadow of ancient wonders whilst we help to create a modern wonder for the future. We have built a solid, functional solution for a smart city and developed great partnerships and experience of working in the region.
And finally, what opportunities does this project create for Cerillion in other smart city projects going forward?
Overall, we’re incredibly proud to be part of such an exciting project that will benefit millions of people. We look forward to seeing the positive impact that the ACUD project will have on the citizens of Egypt and are excited to continue our journey in supporting the development of many more smart cities in the future.

Image courtesy of The Capital Egypt

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Adam Hughes


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