‘Smart City’ Agenda Set To Transform Dubai For Expo 2020

Dubai needs to forge public-private partnerships, collaborate globally to develop localized regulations, and adopt global open standards, says Rabih Dabboussi.

Late for work and driving on Sheikh Zayed Road, several cars crash in front of you.

Instead of a traffic jam, sensors embedded in lanes re-direct traffic, alert emergency personnel, and notify hospitals. A mobile app guides you to work on time using an alternate route.

This is a glimpse into the near future of “Smart Cities”, with network connections between people, things, processes, and data – dubbed the “Internet of Everything” – driving an intelligent shared platform that analyzes data real-time. Cisco predicts 50 billion connections will be forged by 2020, unlocking a potential market value of $14.4 trillion.

Dubai’s Smart City initiative, recently announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will leverage the Internet of Everything to become one of the world’s most connected and sustainable “Smart Cities” – in time for Expo 2020.

Normally a city’s systems – such as traffic and parking, safety, lighting, waste management, and energy – operate in silos. Data and services are not shared, and it is not scalable or economical.

Instead, Smart Cities provide Wi-Fi and fiber optic networks that fuel millions of sensors embedded in virtually everything. Open architecture apps and technology solutions such as mobility, security, cloud computing, virtualization, collaboration, and video transform interaction with the urban landscape.

Smart City impact will be felt beyond governance. Offices can enable remote working using the cloud and security. Educators can expand learning opportunities with new resources and better engagement. Buildings can be monitored for enhanced savings and environmental sustainability.

Dubai joins a growing global Smart City movement, with Frost & Sullivan estimating a global smart city market potential of $3.3 trillion by 2025.

Still, challenges remain. Less than one per cent of the world’s 1.5 trillion things are connected. And Dubai faces rapid population growth, with Dubai Municipality projecting the city to grow from 1.9 million in 2010 to 2.8 million in 2020.

Dubai already has visionary leadership, with officials attending the recent Smart City Expo World Congress to learn best practices. Now Dubai officials must forge public-private partnerships, collaborate globally on localized solutions, and adopt global open standards.

Cisco is well-positioned to advance Dubai’s Smart City agenda. Since 2009, Cisco has worked with more than 90 Smart Cities around the world, including Barcelona, Spain; Nice, France; and Hamburg, Germany. Nice’s “Smart Boulevard”, for example, reduced congestion by 30 per cent, increased parking revenue by 35 per cent, and lowered air pollution by 25 per cent.

By fostering economic, social, and environmental sustainability; boosting jobs and supporting new businesses; Dubai can enhance quality of life for its people and create a greener society. Just imagine a stress-free and safe drive on Sheikh Zayed Road to reach the Expo 2020 site.

Rabih Dabboussi is general manager, Cisco UAE, the worldwide leader in IT.