The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah of Saudi Arabia is building and in the process of integrating a bundle of smart systems in facilitating the travel of pilgrims from around the world and ensuring that the religious rituals can be performed with ease. The first phase of the “Smart Hajj” initiative is being implemented and is expected to help to improve the movement, transportation, as well as the safety of pilgrims during Hajj 2019.
As stated by the deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Abdulfattah Mashat, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is undergoing a digital transformation through strategic partnerships with leading technology companies. This strategy aims to promote the concept of using smart solutions in providing high-quality services for the pilgrims and contribute to achieving one of the main goals of Saudi Vision 2030, which is to host 30 million pilgrims annually.
The government of Saudi Arabia will provide wearable high-tech smart cards for up to 25,000 Hajj pilgrims in Mina this year in a pilot program launched by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. The cards are provided to store the pilgrims’ personal information, residence, health status, and Hajj tour details. A location tracker to follow individual pilgrims’ movements will also be set up in every card.
Moreover, the Smart Hajj ID app will also complement the cards and offer some features, such as tracking location, identifying crowd spots on the map, and transport schedule.
By this year, the first high-speed rail link between Mecca and Medina will cut eight hours off the journey. Furthermore, there are around 6 transmitting stations equipped with 350 sensors across Mina are in place to gather data about where the pilgrims are with HD cameras to monitor the movement. This new initiative will help the ministry to stimulate and predict crowd behavior during the Hajj season by providing real-time insights.
The ministry is planning to increase the cards in the coming years to include more pilgrims in the other areas. Around 200,000 pilgrims scannable ID cards without the location tracking feature will also be issued in order to establish better assistance for them.
The government also provides some robot physicians that were built to take patients’ temperature or check their pulse, if the pilgrims fall ill during the journey. The initiatives are already in place, including an electronic early-warning system that sounds an alarm in the event of some kind of outbreak of disease.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz launched a service program, named “Guests of God”, as a part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. There are around 130 initiatives are included in the program, prepared by more than 30 government agencies.
The program is set to have three strategic objectives: provide quality services for Hajj and Umrah pilgrims; facilitate the hosting of more pilgrims and their access to the Two Holy Mosques; and enrich their religious and cultural experiences.