Complex Made Simple

‘Smart technologies will help Dubai become happiest city’

In this first part, of our two-part interview, Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr, Director General, Smart Dubai, talks technology, happiness and artificial intelligence.

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What is Smart Dubai all about?

We want Dubai to be the happiest city in the world by implementing advanced smart technologies to provide efficient, seamless, impactful, safe and personalized services to everyone in the city, be it residents or visitors. We want to implement the technology, not just for the sake of it, but because we believe that technologies are the means to an end, which is our people’s happiness.

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What technologies are you implementing toward making Dubai the happiest city?

In this journey, we developed a strategy in two phases. The first phase was from 2014 to 2017, covering six dimensions, making sure that we introduce smart mobility, a smart environment, smart people, a smart living sector — which comes under health and education — a smart governing sector and a smart economy. Under these sectors, we have introduced many new smart initiatives, such as the digital economy map, autonomous cars and renewable energy solutions. After three years, we introduced almost 137 smart initiatives across Dubai and the Smart Dubai office governs these implementations, with more than 1,130 smart services. We have also kept our eyes on the horizon to see how the latest technologies, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, etc., will help us answer future questions today.

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In our journey, we also focused on horizontal layers, not just vertical. Therefore, we have implemented a digital backbone platform for the whole city, where different sectors can plug into. Because investing in such technologies is very expensive and the smart cities concept is all about efficiency. When it comes to blockchain, we have a target of transferring 100 percent of all applicable government services to be run on blockchain by 2020. We are currently using it in different sectors — we started with real-estate and, very soon, the health sector, the education sector, the energy sector, NOCs (No Objection Certificates) for municipality services — this will all work on blockchains.

When it comes to IoT, we have different challenges pertaining to its usage. When we have mega events in Dubai, such as the New Year celebrations, we receive more than two million visitors in the small dense location around the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa. Here, we make use of IoT to manage the crowd or to make sure that we can predict their movements and notify people about the lowest-density locations for smoother movement.

This interview first appeared in AMEinfo’s sister publication TRENDS.