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How Dubai got smarter

How Dubai got smarter

Dubai’s Smart City initiative aims to alter the way we look at our work and private lives.

By Sadiq Shaban

Published: Wed 24 Jun 2015, 10:19 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:15 PM

In its quest to be the first Arab smart city, Dubai is reinventing itself. Becoming smart and responsive to the requirement of its residents, the emirate is fast adopting new technologies that interconnect and leverage the different pillars of society - citizens, business, transportation, governance operations and practices. In doing so Dubai is making use of technology to move towards a high-tech and ultra-efficient Smart City.

Guided by the leadership of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, all government departments in Dubai, including the Dubai Police, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and the Dubai Municipality, are going smart — both in terms of its infrastructure and technology in order to provide better services and increased connectivity.

The idea behind the smart initiative is to focus on technology to make it easier to live, navigate around and do business in Dubai. The strategy will see renewed initiatives on transport, communications, infrastructure, electricity, economic services and urban planning among other areas.

While launching the initiative, Shaikh Mohammed, remarked: “Our country is today ushering in a new era for the improvement and development of quality of life through this gigantic project, which got underway through an unprecedented public-private partnership to make a new reality for all and change the concept of city which the human being lives in so as to live with him through his smartphone and who will be its key pivot.”

As the initiative fully unloops, Dubai is expected to witness the development of smart and personal boards, which contain all information and data about the emirate in one centralised place to make it convenient for individuals to communuicate with various institutions.

The transformation is well underway. Dubai’s RTA is all set to provide the smartest transportation system in the world through the development of traffic systems, transportation and creation of a unified control centre for all means of traffic. This includes providing more than 200 services with the help of smartphones.

Much on similar lines the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) will launch a smart electrical grid that encourages people to use solar energy while selling the surplus to the government. It will also start an array of other benefits like the first ‘green charger’ user for electric vehicles in Dubai. DEWA recently launched the first electric vehicle charging station in Dubai. As part of the first phase, 100 electric vehicle-charging stations are being built this year, 16 of which are now ready. In the next phase, 84 charging stations of three different types (fast-charging, medium-charging and home-charging) will be installed in petrol stations across Dubai. Depending on the car type, fast-charging points provide 80 per cent charge in 20 to 45 minutes.

Other key government departments — the Department of Economic Development, the Dubai Municipality, the Dubai Police, the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), the Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) and Knowledge Village -- are also developing their smart initiatives, some of which have already been rolled out.

In an effort to take the initiative to the public directly, the Dubai Municipality has recently launched the ‘Smart Palm’ project that offers park visitors free Wi-Fi service along with charging points for smart gadgets, the first-of-its-kind initiative in the Middle East.

Like other smart initiatives, the Smart Palm is a self-sustaining community tech hub, high solar-powered structure with solar panels fixed on top of its frond-shaped roof. It provides a range of services for the public, including free Wi-Fi from telecom company du with up to a range of 53 metres, sustaining up to 50 users at any given time.

Perhaps the most interesting development in the next phase of the Smart Dubai initiative will be the construction of smart buildings that use Internet of Things (IoT) technology. This will mean a scenario where the web will meet the physical world. IoT combines the link of internet-connected devices with real-time analysis of data. As one of the key enablers for Dubai’s smart-city vision, it is likely to touch every sphere of life — from customers manage their energy bills to air conditioning, facilities management and more.

Leveraging the power of the Internet and new communication tools, Dubai is endeavoured to implement unique digital platforms in the field of healthcare, infrastructure, society, economy, governance and environment to pave the way for its transformation into a truly futuristic smart city.


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