Egypt is planning a new high-tech leap with its new capital on the outskirts of Cairo.
Citizens will use smart cards and apps to unlock doors and make payments, and surf the web on public WiFi beamed from lamp posts.
A network of at least 6,000 cameras will monitor activity on every street, tracking pedestrians and vehicles to regulate traffic and report suspicious activity.
Its “smart city” design is a world away from parts of the existing sprawling capital, where creaking infrastructure can mean patchy internet and phone coverage, doormen at densely-built apartment blocks form a human network of look-outs, and administrative errands can involve hours of queuing.
The city is being built from scratch in the desert – so far called the New Administrative Capital – is designed to hold 6.5million residents and is expected to open to its first civil servants later this year.
How much Egypt’s centre of gravity shifts from Cairo to the new capital, 45 km from the Nile, is unclear. For many ordinary Egyptians, for whom the bustling city has been home for generations, the move and cost would be unthinkable.
But for those who do make the switch, they are promised a single app for paying utility bills, accessing local services, and reporting complaints and problems.
Officials say advanced technology systems will help reduce waste by detecting leaks or faults, and by allowing residents to keep an eye on consumption.
“Through their mobile app a citizen will be able to manage all their life affairs from their mobile phone,” said Mohamed Khalil, head of technology for the Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD), the military and government-owned company building the city.