Understanding people is first step towards 'smart city'

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Understanding people is first step towards smart city
A brainstorming session during the GCC Smart Government and Smart Cities Conference in Dubai.

Dubai - This was the insight shared by Yousef Al Barkawie, head of AW Rostamani Shift Technologies.

By Angel Tesorero

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Published: Mon 23 May 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 23 May 2016, 9:26 AM

Governments should shift their strategies and stop thinking about citizens in the traditional sense if they are to become successful in building smart cities and establishing smart governments.
This was the insight shared by Yousef Al Barkawie, head of AW Rostamani Shift Technologies and a key speaker at the 22nd GCC Smart Government and Smart Cities Conference being held in Dubai until Wednesday.
Talking to Khaleej Times on Sunday, Al Barkawie said: "The first principle I talked about is that consumers' and citizens' expectations are no different."
"Consumers are a lot more digitally aware. They expect more and they want delivery of services faster. Their 'smart understanding' is to 'interact less and deliver more'."
Al Barkawie explained that citizens also demand the same and governments should satisfy the needs of their citizens like successful companies address their consumers' expectations.
"The first strategy a government should adopt in order to establish a smart city is to have a clear understanding of its citizens' expectations and then map out that journey," added Al Barkawie on the sidelines of the five-day summit aimed at strengthening human capital, fortifying knowledge-based development strategy and sharing global best practices.
Al Barkawie underlined the mantra that government digital transformation is not only about developing innovative software or mobile apps but more on delivering services faster and better in a cost-effective way.
He also noted that "the digital transformation in the UAE started in early 2000 and today it is no longer about each government department building its own infrastructure but it's about open data, analysing information, and having these results available to the public."
"One of the exciting things happening today is allowing users open data information and making these available for consumption in various formats, like developing apps. But security, of course, is of high concern especially when we talk about internet of things," Al Barkawie emphasised.
A report published in Khaleej Times last week noted that cybercrimes or e-crimes have claimed a loss of around Dh72 million in the past three years in the UAE, according to Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, commander-in chief of the Dubai Police.
Meanwhile, Ali Al Kamali, managing director of Datamatix, organiser of the event said participants at the summit are also discussing how technological changes are taking place in the face of economic slowdown in some parts of the region.
"Two things: we are either jumping or we are transforming. Jumping means we are not yet ready but we are immediately going to fourth generation and transforming means a smooth continuation into the next level," Al Kamali said.
He added that establishing smart governments is a regional concern. "UAE by itself can not succeed because we are all inter-linked. We live in an integrated world so the transformation should be region-wide and global."

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