As 2017 draws nearer, is Dubai ready to reach its goal to be the smartest city? Telecom Review sat down with H.E Aisha Bin Bishr, director general at the Smart Dubai Office, to get the latest and discuss happiness, security and the internet of everything.
On defining a smart city
The ultimate goal for any smart city is to improve the quality of life and enrich the environment of the city's residents and visitors, accomplished through the use of digital technology and ICT. Where technology plays a key role, it is not a dictating force but acts as an enabler to maximize happiness among all residents and visitors of the city.
We envision the smartest city is one where all its resources are optimized for maximum efficiency, where services are integrated seamlessly into daily life, where we protect both our people and information - creating the most enriched life and business experience possible for all.
On Smart Dubai's goals
We believe that connectivity is at the heart of a smart city, with people's happiness as the end goal, thus shaping Smart Dubai's mandate. Within this mandate are five key objectives for Smart Dubai:
- To be ranked #1 in the emerging world for smart cities and to be #1 in the world for happiness.
- To achieve goals across four dimensions: seamless, safe, efficient and impactful.
- To execute Smart Dubai across six dimensions.
- To launch 100 smart initiatives and 1000 smart services citywide to improve quality of life for residents and visitors.
Working with our 11 strategic partners we have successfully put together the Smart Dubai roadmap which outlines all their planned and existing smart initiatives. Through the roadmap we have already identified over 200 smart initiatives and 545 smart services.
What have been Smart Dubai's latest developments?
We have been working closely with the ITU over the past year to standardize the smart city indicators developed by the ITU using Smart Dubai as the first pilot city to validate and test this. We will be sharing findings of our work with the ITU sometime this year.
The Smart Dubai project envisaged harnessing technology to deliver services such as education and healthcare via smart systems, to improve transport systems, and more generally, to enhance the quality of life of residents and tourists. Can you expand on how Smart Dubai will help to achieve these goals, making it the smartest and happiest city?
We acknowledge that Smart Dubai cannot work in silo to achieve an ambitious project like this; therefore, we collaborated with 11 strategic partners, nine government entities and two districts to ensure added value in accomplishing smart city services and initiatives.
What kind of innovative strategies and creative solutions are you working on to accelerate the process of implementing the Smart Dubai vision?
We are currently working on launching a city dashboard where residents, city leaders and visitors can view relevant city data to facilitate better and informed decisions. Details of this platform will be shared at a later date.
DEWA launched three smart city initiatives, including a project to connect solar power to houses and buildings, development of infrastructure to support electric vehicles and the rollout of smart meters. How will Smart Dubai support these areas of development?
As Smart Dubai, it is our duty to ensure that all smart initiatives and services are aligned with the vision and mission of Dubai's smart city transformation efforts. In that capacity we will always provide a platform to raise awareness of said initiatives and act as a contact point for collaboration and development where and when needed.
Where are you in the process of transforming Dubai's government authorities to become smart?
Transforming government services to become smart is not a new concept; however, we have over the past year worked closely with them to align their objectives to that of Dubai's vision to become the smartest and happiest city in the world.
Dubai's leadership has always created value through smart solutions, even before the terminology shifted towards smart cities. This happened with the city creating a culture of government excellence since the mid-90s, prioritizing service levels across all government touchpoints and its existing roster of over 1000
This is evident in the number of initiatives announced over the past year that priorities customer experiences, encourage the city's sustainability and maximize efficiency of services across all customer touchpoints.
After the Happiness Meter in 14 government entities was activated, did it bring happiness to residents? Has it been effective to government entities in terms of providing services to the public? Do you think this will lead the Dubai government to become the smartest globally?
In our attempts to improve the quality of life of all residents and visitors of the city, we need to ensure that all service touch points, be it public or private, advocate customer satisfaction. The Happiness Meter was a means for government entities to measure their quality of services, address issues and develop their strategies towards maximizing people's happiness. Soon this meter will be rolled out to the private sector to help us in our efforts to make Dubai happier.
Some believe that the global shift towards the internet of things, in which everything is connected and transmitting data, offers new opportunities for cyber criminals to carry out attacks in high-tech places such as Dubai. How is Smart Dubai ensuring the cyber security of Dubai citizens?
Security has always been an integral part of any thought process behind and around Dubai's efforts towards smart city transformation. We work closely with security experts to ensure the safety of resident and visitor data is protected and well cared for.
Through this initiative, do you think Dubai becoming a smart city will lead to economic welfare and social progress?
Yes, we have outlined six strategic dimensions. We believe that Dubai will lead the way by focusing on areas of smart living and smart economy.
With the internet of everything emerging, what can residents expect and experience from this futuristic city?
It's not our objective to create a futuristic city riddled with incomprehensible gadgets and technology that has the potential to alienate select groups of people and widen the digital divide. We envision a city that is enabled by technology, a city that is interactive, ubiquitous and exudes a seamless environment.