Features, Insight, Interviews

“Bayanat is fully aligned with the UAE’s vision of a sustainable future for all” – Khaled Almarzooqi

CNME Editor Mark Forker requested an exclusive interview with Khaled Almarzooqi, Vice President of Projects at Bayanat AI, to learn more about its unique ELT project that has been engineered to make the UAE a global leader in aviation safety – and how the company’s overall strategy is aligned with the UAE government in a bid to foster and build a sustainable future for all.

Khaled Almarzooqi began his career as an engineer in the UAE Armed Forces, before joining the Abu Dhabi Monitoring and Control Centre, (ADMCC) where he served in a number of senior executive positions.

He made the move to Bayanat in August 2021, and was appointed as the Director of Artificial Intelligence for the geospatial solutions provider – he was promoted in December 2022 as the Vice President of Projects and he is being tasked with driving the future direction of the company when it comes to the deployment and integration of AI technology.

Almarzooqi began the conversation by documenting the evolution the company had undertaken over the last 40 years.

“Bayanat has a long and rich heritage in the UAE and has been in operation for over 40 years. The company was acquired in 2020 by G42, an AI and cloud computing company that was established in 2018. Prior to the acquisition by G42, it’s fair to say that Bayanat was considered to be a classical mapping and surveying company, whereby we undertook the normal process of acquiring data, processing it, and creating maps. However, the advent of predictive geospatial intelligence, which we call gIQ, represents the fusion of Bayanat’s geospatial expertise with G42’s artificial intelligence capabilities – and it’s powering us into the future”, said Almarzooqi.

Almarzooqi said the company was focused on a number of key industry verticals and believes their portfolio of solutions can really equip organisations with the tools to make better, informed decisions.

“We provide comprehensive world-class geospatial AI solutions to a growing number of sectors such as defence, environment, energy and resources, smart cities and transportation. We believe our solutions harness vast amounts of premium and unique data from a range of Earth observation sources, such as satellites or High-Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS) as well as a variety of other sensors paired with AI to drive truly intelligent decision making”, said Almarzooqi.

The UAE is regarded as the most innovative country in the Arab world, and the role played by entities like Bayanat, under the umbrella of G42 is crucial in its continued quest and mission to make new technologies a reality across the nation.

Almarzooqi highlighted how the company is heavily involved in making the concept of autonomous mobility a reality.

“We are working on a number of initiatives to advance new technology in the UAE. A perfect illustration of this was our successful launch of TXAI, the first autonomous taxi service in the Middle East. We have also recently partnered with a European company to work on the development of high-altitude pseudo satellites (HAPS), which when it launches will be the first in the Middle East”, said Almarzooqi.

Another example of the UAE’s progress as a bastion of technological progress and prowess is evident in its space program. Over the last few years, the UAE has sent one of their citizens into space, and their Mission to Mars project was a phenomenal success.

According to Almarzooqi the UAE is inspiring a new generation of space explorers and scientists.

“We are exploring an entire space program, having recently signed a public-private partnership with the UAE Space Agency to develop and operate a Geospatial Analytics Platform for the Space Data Centre. Bayanat is going to offer an innovative ecosystem for earth observation downstream applications by enabling large-scale data management and processing capabilities to generate analytics reports from earth observation satellites that cover a wide range of sensors”, said Almarzooqi.

Sustainability has now become firmly embedded in the future strategies being pursued by governments, organizations and multinational companies.

Bayanat is aligned with the UAE on their mission to become a global leader when it comes to sustainability, with a string of unique partnerships and long-term commitments.

“Through recent partnerships, we are conducting environmental surveys of the oceans. Our partnership with Environment Agency Abu Dhabi will also address various environmental challenges. We are well aligned with the UAE’s strategy for innovation and sustainability, and we believe it is embedded into Bayanat’s DNA”, said Almarzooqi.

An ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) is a critical piece of hardware that helps the National Air Safety Agencies help locate an aircraft should an unfortunate event occur. The quicker the agencies can locate the signals from the ELT, the sooner they are able to identify the location and respond to the crisis.

Bayanat’s ELT project, has been described as the first of its kind in global aviation safety. Almarzooqi outlined the nuances of the project in more detail.

“Currently, ELT devices are manually removed from the aircraft for testing and placed back on the aircraft once done.  However, Bayanat’s ELT innovation enables the testing of the aircraft’s ELT without having it being removed from the aircraft in its operational state. This ensures that the ELT hardware and the entire process of connectivity and test output, are tested and confirmed as working. The process of receiving test signals is governed through the electronic cloud to provide the highest standards of cybersecurity and facilitate the passing of information to the relevant authorities”, said Almarzooqi.

Almarzooqi added that this provides regulators and airlines with huge confidence that the ELT testing outcomes are absolute and meet the robust and rigid regulations that are in place.

“The fact that it brings the airline and the regulators on the same platform, ensures there is a single source of truth for all stakeholders. Beyond safety, for the airlines and regulators, the benefits range from productivity savings, improved compliance, real time clarity on ELT inventory status”, said Almarzooqi.

He added that the company’s mission was part of the overall objective of the UAE, which is to make the nation a global leader in aviation safety.

“We know that the UAE has always been an early adopter for technology innovations to either make the world a safer place, or improve the quality of human life in every field. Our ELT project is a pioneering smart technology initiative to support the vision of the United Arab Emirates to be a leading player in the field of aviation safety and artificial intelligence”, said Almarzooqi.

As stated above, Bayanat is known for providing world-class AI-powered geospatial intelligence solutions, but in terms of what ultimately differentiates the company from other geospatial providers globally, Almarzooqi believes it’s a combination of factors, but does credit the role played by G42 in taking the company to ‘another level’.

“I think it’s very evident that Bayanat has expanded beyond data acquisition and mapping.  We are constantly looking to grow and explore new technologies and capabilities, create new ventures with start-ups, push through new technology, and expand geographically beyond the UAE. Bayanat benefits from strong data sovereignty capabilities, which is especially relevant for government data. Through our relationship with G42, we are able to offer our clients customised offerings with the cost benefits of cloud based predictive analytics solutions. Bayanat has regional advantage to offer high quality precision location data. We mapped the UAE to develop the mission critical data infrastructure for the operation of unmanned systems, including HD maps and HD positioning, and these are just some of the key differentiators that distinguishes us from our market rivals”, concluded Almarzooqi.

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