Dubai traces a digital path towards a smart future Dubai traces a digital path towards a smart future
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Dubai traces a digital path towards a smart future

Dubai traces a digital path towards a smart future

The Digital Dubai initiative represents a vision to recreate the traditional top-bottom city management model into one that is representative and sustainable

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The Dubai Digital Authority (Digital Dubai) is a recognition of the power of data to improve lives and create economic benefits. Data is the foundation for the smart city Dubai aspires to be and the emergent digital economy the country is fostering. Established by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the authority oversees Dubai’s information technology, data, digital transformation and cybersecurity. The authority is the umbrella body for Dubai Electronic Security Center, Dubai Statistics Center, Dubai Data Establishment and Smart Dubai Government Establishment.

Siloes are the greatest danger to leveraging data. Data sharing between agencies is, therefore, paramount to the digital economy. Part of Digital Dubai’s remit is to share data seamlessly across different agencies to solve real challenges by identifying where this data lives, its quality, and how to link it effectively to the bigger picture. That’s why Dubai is creating a series of Primary Registers for data.

A ‘Primary Registry’ is a single point of truth that consolidates fragmented data from various sources into a single trusted database. This enables stakeholders to access trusted data from a single location to nurture innovation and create new solutions. Ultimately, Dubai Data wants to become a market broker for citywide data by creating a well-regulated market that lets participants securely exchange data with clear business value to derive measurable benefits.

Dubai has also created the DubaiNow app to gather all city services in one place, from paying utility bills, paying for parking, signing tenant contracts, and accessing travel information, among others. The platform offers residents access to more than 120 government and private sector services from over 30 entities. The link between sustainability and technology is now well established. In a recent study by Bain & Company and the World Economic Forum, 40 per cent of business leaders said they believe digital technologies are already positively impacting their sustainability goals. For urban centres, sustainability requires measuring water and electricity use first and identifying consumption patterns so authorities can account for them. Under the Digital Authority, Dubai has created Electricity & Water Consumption dashboard that visualises how these resources are consumed and lets tenants compare use across buildings or entire communities.

City planners are a primary beneficiary of data. In such a dynamic city as Dubai, where population movements in and out and between communities are the norm, Dubai is analysing and visualising residents’ data in a dashboard that shows how Dubai’s population is changing and moving. It also shows how communities are performing and which ones are in demand. Entry and repatriation data show overall market sentiment and help project future population growth.

These online data registries are the foundation for the Dubai Paperless Strategy, which aims to have the Dubai government completely paper-free by 2021, eliminating more than one billion pieces of paper used for government transactions every year. Having these digital databases also offers the opportunity to expose this data to new emerging technologies. That is why Dubai has been among the pioneers in adopting Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies such as AI and blockchain.

The emirate launched the Dubai Blockchain strategy, which seeks to unlock Dhs5.5bn in savings annually in document processing while creating an open platform to share the technology with cities across the globe. The Dubai Blockchain strategy is built on three pillars – government efficiency, industry creation and international leadership. Similarly, in partnership with IBM, the Dubai AI Lab Strategy is establishing a growing network of partners from across governmental and private sectors to provide the essential tools and go-to-market support that enables them to implement AI services and applications within their respective fields.

Digital Dubai strategy is a living, dynamic plan. Recently, the authority announced a collaboration with Dubai Police to add a new service to the Vehicles and Security Services section of the DubaiNow app, allowing users to report minor accidents. The new service seeks to save customers’ time and effort instead of waiting for the police to arrive at the scene or go to police stations.

Protecting data is a growing concern for any firm with any public interface. It is especially critical for organisations to handle sensitive public information. To enhance its cybersecurity capabilities, Dubai Electronic Security Center has announced the launch of the Cyber Node in partnership with Thales Group. Cyber Node seeks to upskill the city’s cyber workforce and protect Dubai’s critical information infrastructure from cyber risks.

The Digital Dubai initiative represents a vision to recreate the traditional top-bottom city management model into one that is representative and sustainable. Ultimately, when businesses, residents and city authorities come together through a shared data platform, businesses thrive, the population can contribute to the city’s welfare and municipalities can save time and money by eliminating manual processes.

Read: Dubai’s DEWA launches platform in the metaverse

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