Dubai marches towards becoming the smartest city
Dubai's march towards becoming the world's first smartest city continues unabated as the emirate has been ranked the 'Most Innovative City' in the region. It is also No.1 for deployment of smart city applications and has the highest awareness, usage and satisfaction among its residents.
Industry executives said that the emirate is right on track to become the world's smartest city through deployment of smart solutions both for firms and consumers, using novel and smart technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, the cloud, networking, big data, content and real-time data. All these technologies will help realise the emirate's goal to introduce self-driving cars, automated ports, testing of delivery robots and social robots.
According to commercial data provider 2thinknow's 2018 report, which publishes the annual ranking of the most innovative cities, Dubai is the 'Most Innovative City' in the Middle East, despite a drop of five places in its ranking. Similarly, McKinsey & Company said Dubai is the top city in the Middle East and Africa in terms of deployment of greatest number of applications.
Dr Aisha bint Butti bin Bishr, director-general, Smart Dubai Office, said with Dubai being such a technologically advanced city, most of the knowledge and assets to make the emirate smartest city on Earth already existed within government and private sector entities.
"Our biggest investment has been the time spent in identifying these assets and bringing them to one table, in the process developing a culture of collaboration and sharing. Over the past three years, Smart Dubai has been working closely with over 60 government and private sector entities, bringing together existing experience, technology and know-how to implement the Dubai Blockchain Strategy, Dubai AI Roadmap, Dubai Data Initiative and the Dubai Paperless Strategy across all sectors in the city," she said.
"Unlike other smart cities around the globe, Dubai's our vision is to be the happiest city on Earth, not just most technologically advanced. Using technology as an enabler, we are providing the city with the tools and policies that will help make life better and happier for all its residents and visitors. We are working diligently with our partners to prepare the foundation for a sustainable Smart City that prioritises people's happiness and that makes Dubai a benchmark for Smart City transformation for the world," Dr Aisha said.
Smart Dubai has saved Dubai government Dh4.3 billion over the past 13 years through shared infrastructure and shared smart services for over 60 government entities. Today, Dubai government is saving Dh5.6 for every one dirham spent by Smart Dubai.
But the emirate is now pushing the boundaries further by making private sector part of its efforts to implementing innovative and smart technologies across various entities.
"We are committed to ensuring that the private sector benefits from Smart City development as well, so working with government and private sector partners across Dubai, we have launched over 100 smart initiative and 1,000 smart services in the past three years. Our current goal is to leverage emerging technologies - such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, IoT and open data sharing - to continue increasing the efficiency of our government services to create even better experiences in the city, so that all residents, business owners, city leaders and tourists can benefit," Dr Aisha said.
She revealed that all city infrastructure will be connected through IoT, with connected devices directly contributing to improved decision making based on real-time data and overall increased operational efficiencies.
Jeroen Schlosser, managing director, Equinix Mena, said that in Dubai, government as well as private companies are increasingly playing a revolutionary role in launching smart city initiatives - self-driving cars, automated ports, testing of delivery robots and drones and social robots are some of the examples. Dubai's strategic vision and ambitious implementation programme to make it a smart and happy place to live has put the emirate on the path of becoming the smartest city.
"Internet of Things serves as backbone of a smart city. The increasingly sophisticated IoT technology gives rise to a massive amount of data collected from everyday objects. In the context of smart cities, these insights can help better urban planning in terms of transportation systems, water and electricity supply, waste and pollution management, and more. To build the IoT backbone of smart cities, 'interconnectedness' between people, devices and systems is essential," Schlosser said.
Pointing out Dubai's smart initiatives, Ralph El Hachem, associate, McKinsey & Co, noted that cities with robust technology bases are doing more with utilities applications.
Dubai partnered with Schneider Electric and SAP to test its applications in a special zone dubbed the "Dubai Silicon Oasis" before extending them across the city. The district has been a testing ground for applications such as smart irrigation systems. The emirate has also largely rolled out smart energy meters and achieved high adoption of home automation systems and behaviour-based electricity consumption tracking.