Complex Made Simple

‘We’re studying unleashing a new economy from parked cars’

In this final part, of our two-part interview, Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr, Director General, Smart Dubai, talks artificial intelligence, city mobility and women in the workplace.

READ: The first part of this interview here

How are you making use of deep learning and AI?

When it comes to deep learning and AI, we are implementing them at the top of our mobility platforms and also in other energy platforms. We are merging different data sets to give the decision makers a more mindful background to decide properly. For instance, while operating transportation buses in the city, you need to know where the people are located. If you know that people have started to migrate from one district to another, you can stop service in that area. This way, you don’t need to wait for six months or one year to realize that there aren’t any people coming into those particular bus stations. These kinds of solutions are what we are bringing to the table to make sure the government provides much more efficient services.

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In terms of mobility, city traffic in Dubai did get out of hand a few years ago. How was that handled?

Yes, that happened. But now with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) handling this program, we are making sure to introduce new tools to the city transport — whether it is the Dubai Metro, which sees more than 500,000 users use daily, or other modes. Who would have believed our Metro will get this much of popularity? When we started the Metro ten years ago, this was unimaginable.

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So, are you looking to expand the Metro networks?

Yes. We are now working on the third Metro line, while will go towards the location of the upcoming Expo 2020. This line will use new tools, such as shared mobile solutions, the ‘extra mile’ tools, drones… All of these have been introduced to Dubai to solve the challenges around traffic — and we are already seeing the impact. I would like to mention that the RTA launched their new control room, which is a full centre that unifies all of the transport solutions in one area, so everything related to traffic can be seen and handled from one side.

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Are you also encouraging people to use public transport more?

Yes, that’s why we keep introducing new tools. This is the extra mile that we are going and it has become very popular with users. Currently we are studying new tools with the RTA — these are about opening and unleashing a new economy from parked cars.

You also mentioned about smart infrastructure – intelligent housing, for example. What steps are being taken in this field?

When it comes to housing, using 3D printing and renewable energy solutions that will be embedded in public housing is one of our focuses. Many activities are being undertaken now and a lot of study and research is being put in place around it. Also, we take initiatives to ensure that the cost of these services remains within reach, because, as I said, smart cities are all about efficiency.

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What would you say about the place of women in Smart Dubai?

The fact that I am heading this project says a lot about the place of women. In my office, 78 percent of the employees are women. Not only in Smart Dubai, 70 percent of the graduates from the ICT (Information and communications technology) course from our universities are women.

And we keep constantly working on supporting women, through work-from-home policies, the childcare centers and nurseries that we have in all government offices, breastfeeding policies and so on. I would say that, as women, we are living in a golden age in the UAE.

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