Dubai: How data affects 35,000 decisions people make every day

When it comes to developing technologies, it is important to see beyond their basic functions and look at how they can be used to serve people and governments


Lamya Tawfik

Published: Wed 8 Feb 2023, 7:47 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Feb 2023, 8:33 PM

People make 35,000 decisions a day — and many of these decisions are facilitated by the data collected, a senior official said on Wednesday.

Speaking on the last day of Innovation Talks in Dubai, Younus Al Nasser, assistant director-general of the General of Digital Dubai, and CEO of the Dubai Data Establishment, stressed the importance of utilising data in innovation and shaping the future.

He began by illustrating how, at an individual level, data is collected from wearable devices which monitor the human body and the effects of everyday external and internal factors like food and stress.

“We use data in our everyday life to take major decisions. This technology is important,” he said.

When it comes to developing technologies that collect data, it is important to see beyond their functions and look at how they can be used to serve people and governments.

“We need to focus on how we can advance by using technology which is always changing and developing. We are in the fourth industrial revolution – it is focused on advanced technologies that use data to serve humanity,” said Younus.

He said that this is why Dubai’s mission over the last two decades has been to develop through digital transformation. “Our main focus is to digitise life in Dubai. We started with digital government, but it’s important to also look at digital economy. We also need to look at digital infrastructure which is as important as the city’s advanced infrastructure,” he said.


Younus stressed the importance of learning new digital skills and said that an important aspect to consider when it comes to innovation and digital transformation is maintaining cybersecurity.

“Dubai is a safe city, and this is why technological development must also focus on safety,” he said.

Speaking to attendees during the event, Younus said that one of the emirate’s focuses is data governance. “Having an organisation that is mainly concerned with data was considered innovative on an international level,” he said.

Another focus is creating the infrastructure that allows for the storage of data, its exchange, and helping organisations benefit from it.

Value creation is something that the UAE is very keen on when it comes to data and an example of that is the Covid pandemic.

“It’s one of the largest challenges that the world faced. Data was used to help provide leaders with essential indicators to help their decision making,” he said, adding, “Dubai is focused on creating a comprehensive data structure which focuses on finding reliable real-time data to create the future of the city.”

He said that data collected during Covid helped create scenarios that were expected. “Our accuracy reached 90 per cent due to the knowledge of data scientists and medical experts. Leaders used this to make decisions,” said Younus adding that this work has been published to be used by any organization or country.

He said that it is important to trust the collected data to use it to make decisions. “We have to innovate solutions and to create wells of data. Every organisation today is sitting on a treasure of information which needs to be utilised for the purpose of creating value,” he explained.

When it comes to data, it is also important to have governance laws — which the UAE has in place. “This tool which clearly identifies the roles of different organisations in terms of data management is overlooked by many governments around the world,” he said.

It is essential to also collaborate with the private sector because most of the data is generated there. “We created a method for collaboration and exchange – data exchange for the benefit of both,” he said.

An important area of innovation in the area of digital transformation is making use of artificial data – which is real data that is made available for everyone without linking it to the specifics of a particular individual, he elaborated.

One of the main challenges is that many organisations do not want to share their data. “We need to work with it. Sometimes people are drowning in data but my message to them is: be passionate about it and focus on creating value,” he said.

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