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Big dreams for UAE's 'Smart City'

Technology will be used to improve urban services and reduce resource consumption.

By Abdul Basit (chief Reporter)

Published: Tue 23 Jun 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:18 PM

Emirati government employees use a touchscreen display on a wall during the Dubai Smart Cities forum. Photo: AP
Emirati government employees use a touchscreen display on a wall during the Dubai Smart Cities forum. Photo: AP

Dubai: The UAE is one of the pioneers of advanced, cutting-edge technologies in the Middle East and Dubai government’s latest initiatives will make its Smart City project one of the best in the world, according to an industry specialist.

A Smart City, also called Smarter City, uses digital technologies or information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance quality and performance of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens.

“I’m very optimistic that the Dubai Smart City would be one of the leading smart city projects in the world,” Adrian McDonald, EMEA president for EMC, a provider of IT storage hardware solutions, told Khaleej Times recently.

“We are engaged with them [Dubai government]. We have board level contacts in Dubai Smart City and key executives of EMC are also involved in it. So, it’s a large scale of engagement across EMC which will cause us to invest more in Dubai going forward,” McDonald added.

Smart cities can be broadly defined as digitally connected urban areas fitted with sensors, monitors and metres, which collect data on every aspect of the city — from energy usage to transport patterns. This data is then analysed and used by city planners to improve decision making.

Dubai’s Smart City project is based on three ideas: communication, integration and cooperation. These ideas will enhance communication between residents of the city and its institutions and facilities through sharing information of data about the city among themselves to keep them informed about government entities, schools, hospitals, roads and transport, sensor systems, buildings, energy and others.

Last April, Dubai was crowned ‘Mena Smart City’ of the year. The emirate’s victory shows the advances made since His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched a strategy to transform Dubai into a ‘Smart City’ in March last year.

The strategy features six key pillars and 100 initiatives on transport, communications, infrastructure, electricity, economic services and urban planning. Under the strategy, 1,000 government services are set to go smart by 2017.

“Our country is today ushering in a new era for the improvement and development of quality of life through this gigantic project which got under way through an unprecedented public-private partnership to make a new reality for all and change the concept of a city from where the human being lives in so as to live with him through his smartphone and who will be its key pivot,” Shaikh Mohammed said while launching the strategy on March 5, 2014.

According to Forbes, the top five global smart cities are Barcelona for high score on the environment and smart parking; New York City scored high on smart street lighting and smart traffic management; London scored high on technology and open data; French city Nice scored high on environment and agency cohesion; and Singapore scored high on smart traffic management and creative use of technology.

It is estimated that more than 50 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. So, the Smart City concept is expected to affect the lives of billions of people around the world.

India is at the forefront of this concept as the country of more than one billion plans to build 100 smart cities in the coming years.


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