Tapping from Dubai’s smartcity initiatives


Developing countries, like those in Africa, have the opportunity to leapfrog now-redundant technologies in developed nations and create truly smart cites.While cities including Cape Town and Nairobi are tipped to become the first cities to achieve this ‘smart status’, especially in Africa, going by the daily developments unfolding there, other countries, including Nigeria, which is also keen about driving development through ‘smart city’ initiatives have been tapped to take a cue from cities such as Dubai.

Indeed, many African cities are seen as ideal locations for smart city campaigns, as they are essentially being developed technologically in particular, from scratch. In other words, there are fewer complications. They are building the foundations, rather than undoing a load of work, which other major technological hubs in the world face on their path to becoming a smart city.

Tapping from Dubai, according to experts could be the magic wand for most emerging markets, such as Nigeria, which are desperate about 21st century developments.When it comes to using technology on a mass scale, the city of Dubai has always stood out as a gleaming example of innovation. It’s as if an entire sci-fi movie has come to life in one urban area.

Leaving aside the phenomenal architecture that has always made this city the king of the Middle East, Dubai’s recent adoption of cutting-edge technology has been making headlines in recent times. From drone taxis to robotic policing to fire-fighters with jetpacks — you name the technology and the people of Dubai will already have incorporated it into their daily life.

Interestingly, Dubai is going to run a paperless regime from 2021.While many municipal governments around the globe are only now beginning to explore smart city projects, Dubai is more than a decade into its smart city strategy. Reports have it that the United Arab Emirates is now in the process of shifting into phase two of its expansive smart city strategy.

The city wrapped up phase one of its smart city plans about two years ago. One part of that phase was the Smart Dubai Government initiative, which has already saved the government $1.17 billion in its 13 years of existence.After spending over two years working on benchmarking, creating a blue print, building the framework and testing services on a government level, the city is now working on delivering tangible benefits to the residents and visitors.

At the just concluded Gulf Information and Technology Exhibition (GITEX) in Dubai, with more than 150 000 attendees converged at the Dubai World Trade Centre to visit more than 4 000 exhibitors and 700 start-ups from over 100 different companies, several innovations were on display from flying cars to police robots and robots that can sing and play piano, to Blockchain technology that can be used to measure happiness, the future of technology is stunning! While Etisalat’s 5G network powered the flying cars, the city is pushing forward into Internet of Things (IoT) integration, embracing the burgeoning technology that is expected to generate $1.6 trillion in smart cities impact by 2025. A recent McKinsey Global Institute report predicts these IoT impacts will include $800 billion in transportation opportunities and $700 billion in healthcare.

Flying taxis initiative
Going by the rapid transformation in the city, Dubai intends to have a fleet of autonomous flying people-carriers fully operational within the next to two to five years.The Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT), created by German company Volocopter, was display at GITEX. The AAT project forms part of Dubai’s 2030 Autonomous Transport Strategy, which aims to transform 25 per cent of Dubai’s total mobility to self-driving transport by 2030.

Use of Robocops
Besides the flying cars, the world of robotics was in full energy at the technology fair. Some of the wonder robots on display included those that can do customer service jobs, security guards, singers, tour guides and receptionists. But it was the Robocop that got many tongues wagging. The Dubai Police brought its first ever police robot patrolling its streets.

Dubai is hoping to have a human-free police station in 2030. The police robot, described as a wonder robot, uses artificial intelligence and can ‘speak’ and answer a good number of questions as well as offer help to road users. People can also use them to pay fines and get information by tapping a touch screen on its chest.

The Robocop can also identify wanted criminals as well as collect evidence. It can speak in six languages, including English and Arabic. It can shake hands and even offer a military salute. They are expected to start patrolling crowded parts of the city. The scary invention will replace some human crime busters.

Dubai Data Strategy
The city explained that the strategy is one of the world’s most comprehensive and ambitious data initiatives to Leverage Dubai Data to enable Data Excellence and Smart City Transformation. The City and Emirate of Dubai’s mission is to empower the usage of data. Dubai Government’s policy framework is intended to develop and implement a culture of data sharing and evidence-based decision-making in Dubai and will serve as a guide for all involved in the sharing of data.

According to the Dubai Data Economic Impact Report, by KPMG, the economic impact of data is expected to reach $2.8 billion per year as of 2021. The report revealed that by sharing 100 per cent of government data, Dubai stands to generate an additional value of $6.6 billion.

Artificial Intelligence
Dubai, which is set to host Expo 2020, has also lined up about 20 different technologies that would play major roles in making live more convenient for visitors come October 2020.Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no doubt at the fore front. Vice President for Applied Intelligence, Innovation and Future Technology, Expo 2020 Dubai, Iman Alomrani said other than the tech on display, this world show will be the first to be technology-driven and will focus on the digital visitor experience.

According to her, visitors can expect to see flying cars and autonomous vehicles of all shapes and sizes at the smart mobility pavilion; large-scale solar-farms at the sustainability pavilion; and inventive solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems at the opportunity pavilion. She revealed that over 80 per cent of the infrastructure will be retained after the expo.

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