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The power move

DEWA's investments in artificial intelligence are pushing Dubai to be smarter and more secure

By Nisthula Nagarajan

Published: Mon 22 Mar 2021, 8:39 PM

Improving services with smart government projects has been at the forefront of the UAE. Governments in the region are focused on using artificial intelligence (AI) to increase government speed, efficiency and effectiveness. These initiatives all leverage AI technology to personalise and improve experience. The UAE has many such initiatives in progress using AI, data analysis and innovation to improve the quality of life; efficiency of urban operations and services, while ensuring the city meets the needs of its residents. 

The UAE has been proactive in involving AI at the government level since 2017. The country released its National Programme for Artificial Intelligence, with a goal of becoming a global leader in the responsible use of AI by 2031. 

The policy mandate is to achieve this through the adoption of emerging AI technologies across the government and welcoming world-renowned AI talent to the country to advance AI research and development. AI-related start-ups and developers receive access to local data infrastructure as well as funding for projects. According to the programme, 'data sharing and governance' and the 'new generation of regional talent' are opportunities for the UAE to succeed in developing and deploying AI technologies. The vision of AI development was to position UAE as the global hub for the fourth Industrial Revolution.

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) also started its AI journey in 2017 with a roadmap of goals for AI applications and deployment. DEWA's efforts have enriched the user experience of all stakeholders. The E-Government Development Index 2020 (EGDI) issued by the United Nations highlighted Rammas, DEWA's virtual employee, which uses AI, as one of the UAE's distinguished experiences in interacting with customers. Rammas learns and understands customers' needs based on their enquiries while analysing these enquiries based on available data to accurately answer and streamline transactions with ease. This saves their time and effort, increasing happiness and protecting the environment. Since its 2017 launch, Rammas has responded to over four million requests and queries through various channels. The virtual assistant was key in DEWA receiving the AI Breakthrough Award 2020 for Transactional Robotics Innovation.

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA, said that DEWA's AI and smart services are part of its strategy to achieve the Dubai 10X initiative. The initiative was launched by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, to establish the Government of Dubai 10 years ahead of other cities. DEWA seeks to reduce the number of visitors and increase smart adoption, which it has achieved 98.6 per cent of in the fourth quarter of last year. This involves harnessing technology as well as the latest disruptive solutions and fourth Industrial Revolution applications. 

 The digital arm of DEWA, Digital DEWA, is an ambitious move to consolidate energy sustainability and efficiency to pioneer Dubai as the first city to provide electricity and water services to its residents through AI technologies. It is based on four pillars; pioneering advanced solar technologies, operating a renewable energy network using novel energy storage technologies, and the expansion of integrated AI solutions.  

DEWA is also building the region's first hydroelectric pumped storage plant in Hatta with a total capacity of 250 megawatts of power with a lifespan of 80 years. The government entity is also developing a green hydrogen pilot project to produce hydrogen using clean energy. These are both the first of its kind in the Gulf region.  

DEWA's AI use cases among different departments including but not limited to outage planning and load forecasting, solar power generation forecasting, network design and area planning, visual inspection on solar photovoltaics, DEWA's virtual assistant Rammas, My Sustainable Living Programme (MSLP), leak detection (HydroNet), and AI-based tamper detection, the Gas Turbine Intelligent Controller (GTIC). 

DEWA has delivered all its services through multiple smart channels to transform the government of Dubai into a fully smart model and make it the first paperless government by the end of 2021 in line with the directives of Sheikh Hamdan. 

DEWA has been integral to The Smart Dubai initiative the purpose of which is to make Dubai the happiest city on earth through leveraging emerging technologies such as Blockchain, AI, and harnessing data science capabilities.  

Smart Dubai had developed the Ethical AI Toolkit to set clear guidelines on the ethical use of AI to prevent having a disjointed approach to ethics. There is also an AI Self-Assessment Tool, as part of the toolkit, which allows AI champions to implement and develop AI use cases, and self-assess its performance against the guidelines to ensure an ethical approach. 

Another initiative rolled out by DEWA is the Future Centre for Customer Happiness, which uses AI and robotics, provides smart services, including smart self-service booths to help customers quickly make paperless transactions.  

Younus Al Nasser, assistant director general of Smart Dubai and CEO, Dubai Data Establishment, praised DEWA, stating, "Smart Dubai has a mission to drive the emirate's rapid transformation into the ultimate smart city. Our main goal has always been people's happiness and wellbeing; technology is our means to achieve this objective. With that in mind, Smart Dubai launched the Ethical AI Toolkit to guide and promote the responsible use of this breakthrough technology to develop advanced, human-centred services and initiatives." DEWA aims to use the Ethical AI Toolkit to study the AI projects that are currently in progress, any AI project that was completed in the past few months, as well as any upcoming new project. 


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