Opinion and Editorial

Technology is but a means to a happier public life

Younus Al Nasser
Filed on October 22, 2020


It is important for us to control and guide the journey of data for it to be in the service of people

The journey of creating a data-based future is not just about sharing and exchanging data between government entities, although that is a strategic goal we aim to achieve by 2021. This journey is similar to the other unprecedented global achievements Dubai has made over the years. The tallest tower in the world did not become a reality just because of the availability of construction materials and workers. It was the result of a clear strategy, action plan, collaborative and integrated teamwork, and an urban ecosystem that has made the tower one of the world's major landmarks.

At Smart Dubai, we have built our data ecosystem while taking into consideration what data means to people on a personal and professional level. This ecosystem is built on four pillars that make it unique and unprecedented globally. The first pillar is value creation and support for smart decision-making that leads to economic prosperity and a better life. I am not only referring to material value here but also to finding the most relevant cases for people and entities. Second, data governance, which I discuss further below. The third is designing the city's data-sharing architecture and its relevant infrastructure represented by the Dubai Pulse platform and our work in creating a decentralised data platform. Fourth, integration and interaction between all parties in the data ecosystem through the Data Lab and initiatives like the Data First Challenge.

It is not a coincidence that governance is the second pillar in our model. We know that what constitutes data is the information held by government entities on the different aspects of peoples' lives. It is important for us to control and guide the journey of data for it to be in the service of people before anything else. Governance in the data ecosystem helps serve people round the clock. The globally known power of data would have no value if people were not aware of the benefits data governance provides, ensuring there is no misuse of data nor is anyone harmed by its use.

In terms of governance, we have focused on two aspects: regulating human behaviour in dealing with data by issuing data policies and regulating the role of machine and technology in processing data by issuing ethical guidelines for implementing Artificial Intelligence. Our data policies brought about a unified understanding of the data sector by everyone in the government and private sectors. The policies included world-class controls that provide the maximum level of data protection and security. Moreover, in creating ethical guidelines for implementing Artificial Intelligence, we are ensuring a safe, ethical and inclusive approach to deploying Artificial Intelligence applications in the city.

Data and any technologies you hear about must have the single purpose of serving people and improving their lives, and this is our first criteria when measuring our success. Technology is nothing but a means and the city's happiness is the ultimate objective.

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


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