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Opinion and Editorial

Special: How Dubai is using the power of data to drive growth

Younus Al Nasser
Filed on September 4, 2020 | Last updated on September 4, 2020 at 01.29 pm

We have launched a project to identify the best model for opening and exchanging data between the government, private sector, and the people.

Treasures buried underground were, and still are, a major source of excitement across the world of cinema, novels, and folk tales. Most treasure hunts have one of two endings: a classical joyful ending where treasure hunters manage to find the fortunes they seek; or an ending full of disappointment where the map leads the hunters astray and the treasure remains buried and hidden. But what you may not know is that there is a highly under-utilised treasure in our very own reality. What's more is that many people know where this treasure lies, but have yet to start digging for it.

I am not talking about cryptocurrencies or other disruptive technologies. I am talking about something we have been producing and exchanging every single day for centuries without realising that it is a treasure! What I am referring to here is data - of people, governments, and private entities, which is mostly found raw and yet to deliver real value. So now the question to be answered is: who has the map to derive value out of this treasure?

The truth is that there are many maps out there that lead to a data treasure. Each state or each city has to innovate and develop its own model for deriving value out of data for the national economy, as well as provide ample opportunities for individuals and private-sector entities to flourish.

To paint a clearer picture of the situation, the Dubai Data Economic Impact Report, which was published in mid-2017, states that the dissemination and exchange of data in Dubai's public and private sectors is expected to create an added value of Dh10.4 billion to the emirate's economy, every year, after 2021.That is right, 10 billion generated from simply sharing and analysing data! I am fully confident that the number will be much higher given the great data-related achievements we have made in Dubai.

That being said, in Dubai, we do not stop after accomplishing a certain level of achievement, as we know the future requires foreseeing tomorrow's needs, and working on delivering them today! Exploring for the oil of the future or hunting for the data treasure requires the government and private sector to create a model and ecosystem aimed at enabling "Data Decentralisation". Although this concept is globally still in its infancy, we, at Smart Dubai, have decided to be the first to take a practical step by launching a pilot project to identify the best model for opening and exchanging data in an integrated manner between the government, private sector, and the people. This will be based on clear principles and policies that, on one hand, ensure enhancing everyone's performance and productivity, and on the other, transform their data into financial value.

To realise the importance of data to technology, smart cities and its people, consider data as the fuel and energy without which a car would not start. Therefore, all technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things have no value unless they are fed with the right data.

There is no scarcity of projections on the economic value of data. McKinsey Digital has lately released a study revealing that Artificial Intelligence has developed six times faster as a result of the availability of analysed data. The study also states that the value of data-based Artificial Intelligence applications will reach $25 billion by 2025. -Younus Al Nasser is Assistant Director General of Smart Dubai, CEO of the Dubai Data Establishment


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