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Data becomes meaningful when used to improve lives

Younus Al Nasser
Filed on November 12, 2020

(Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo)

Our mission is to make data meaningful for individuals, business owners, public and private sectors

Our understanding of any subject — no matter how complex — is not determined by lengthy explanations and the abundance of details we have on the subject, but rather by our ability to explain the topic to a common man or even a small child. If we can successfully relay information to a child and make them truly understand a subject, then we can say that we have progressed in our work, moved past the stage of mastering technicalities to a stage of deep understanding, where we can make our knowledge meaningful to people’s lives and work.

In previous Data Moments articles, we established that data is as old as humanity itself, and since its inception people have allocated innumerable meanings to it. When the Dubai Data Establishment was launched nearly five years ago, our wise leadership’s objective was far beyond simply establishing an entity that handles data in Dubai. Our mission — as I saw it — was to make data meaningful for individuals, business owners, and government and private sector entities in the emirate.

What we have accomplished over the past few years working closely with our government and private sector partners, and up to this point, is to create our own definition of the meaning and role of data, seeing as there had never been an initiative that combines two critical elements: inclusiveness and engagement. Everyone participated in formulating this definition by answering questions such as: What does data mean for each person in Dubai? What does it mean for the private sector? What does it mean for the government? And what does data mean for Dubai and the world? – and the last of these questions was answered as we frequently presented our model around the world and on various occasions.

A product or a service in itself — though important — is not all that matters. What counts more is their role in the everyday life of an individual. And because a city is the sum of the experiences of its residents, we, as leaders, must define the dimensions of the cities on which digital transformation efforts will focus.

This has been our mantra at Smart Dubai; we have consistently focused on six dimensions, namely: Living, creating a more sustainable living ecosystem; People, who will build an interconnected society with accessible community services; Economy, where we work to establish a competitive economy that embraces advanced technologies; Governance, rooted in connected digital governance and modern effective government procedures; Environment, where we aim to utilise technology to preserve the environment; and Mobility, where the objective is to create a transportation sector rooted in self-driving modes of transport and participatory transportation.

No person or entity around the world possesses the whole answer to the question: what is the ideal approach for transforming a city into a smart city? Nevertheless, in this week’s Data Moments, I wanted to thank you all for the role you play — each in their own capacity and position — in helping us determine a new and unprecedented meaning for data. We have built an exemplary system that has come to be considered a role model.

Younus Al Nasser is Assistant Director General of Smart Dubai and CEO of the Dubai Data Establishment





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