July 2017

Global Smart Cities and Dubai’s Path for Digital Transformation

The urbanization trend has accelerated in the past decades posing significant challenges for cities globally in terms of their infrastructures, social and economic fabrics, as well as environmental aspects. Our region, namely Middle East and North Africa(MENA), is no exception to this. Its population has increased more than any other world region in the 2 nd half of 20th century. This concomitantly presented enormous regional challenges. However, these challenges also present substantial opportunities for development in our region.

Dubai, as a city in MENA region, has succeeded in transforming itself into a global city and a regional business and tourism hub; with the leadership of a very strong and productive government embracing regulatory and progressive reforms as well as technology and digital city transformation.

Outlined in His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and The Ruler of Dubai’s vision, technology is simply to play the role of an enabler “to make Dubai the happiest city on earth”. The impact our city can create with the goal to drive happiness is enormous.

Smart Dubai 2021

Today Dubai has become a leading global contender as a successful smart city. We aim to be at the forefront as a leader by harnessing digital innovation and sustainability in all our city endeavors. Our 5-year Smart Dubai 2021 strategy targets significant positive impact on the city.

Different constituents in our city such as government, businesses, and individuals interact daily through exchanging products, services and even ideas and experiences. It is our first and foremost aim and impact area to ensure happy city experiences in these exchanges.

Our second impact area entails achieving significant financial benefits and savings while simultaneously delivering happiness to our citizens and residents.

Our third impact area entails overall city environment including our resources and infrastructure. We charted a course to create positive impact on our city environment by ensuring clean and sustainable city resources and enhanced infrastructures.

Unique opportunity

We have a unique opportunity to harness technology for our city’s transformation by achieving positive impact in all three areas; rendering Dubai unique as a truly smart and sustainable city.

Smart and resilient

The world is becoming ever more interconnected. We intend to ensure all people and organizations have fast internet connectivity by 2021 to easily access our city services. We will safeguard sensitive private information for trust and confidence in digital city services. The internet revolution started by connecting people; now it can connect almost anything.

We intend to connect all our city resources and infrastructures. Water, energy, sewerage, drainage, waste distribution networks, buildings, traffic lights, will be connected and monitored as part of our IoT strategy.

This will allow our city to provide more reliable and efficient services. For example, outages and leaks in water or electricity supplies will be sensed immediately leading to faster recovery and also resources savings.

City residents will be able to monitor their consumption of city resources to make conscious choices.

Our resilience as a city will be enhanced by fully preparing for challenges posed by potential man-made and natural disasters and carefully planning for them.

Global competitiveness

Dubai has achieved unprecedented economic growth as a regional hub with strong economic sectors, thanks to our strong innovation culture and spirit of entrepreneurship.

Our strategy entails harnessing digital transformation for enhanced processes, products and services to further boost our city's economy and sustain its global competitiveness. Our research and development efforts in the city will also be boosted.

Seamless and convenient digital services will ease entrepreneurs’ lives for starting up businesses.

Dubai is a melting pot of talented and skilled people, giving us the best human capital to achieve our aspirations. We will enhance the skills of our workforce to help them realize their ambitions.

Easily Accessible Social Services

We aim to ease our city residents’ lives by providing 90% of the daily life needs through convenient digital services. This includes healthcare, education, culture, housing, entertainment, community, and volunteering services, among others. We foresee seamless and efficient social services empowering our city residents and visitors.

Hence, Dubai will have a strong social community, enriched by digital services that enable happy social experiences.

Autonomous transport

In our busy daily lives in Dubai, we move around quite often, commute to work, or visit various places daily for social and work-related interactions.

We want to be at the cutting edge when it comes to mobility by capitalizing on latest technologies.

We want to embrace autonomous mobility technologies as a safe, quick and happy transportation alternative.

Our autonomous transportation strategy targets 12% of city trips by 2021 to be through autonomous driverless systems.

Smart mobility

Smart parking, smart tolls and smart traffic lights, will all contribute to improving mobility in the city and ensure a fast flow of movement.

We estimate that 80 million trips in the next five years will be circumvented thanks to our smart city efforts and digital city services. This will help reduce the stress on and also the cost of maintaining our city transportation infrastructure.

ICT and the environment

We want to enable green and inclusive economic and social growth in Dubai.

A low-pollution and low-emission environment coupled with clean resources will ensure a sustainable development path through healthy and productive lives in Dubai.

Continuous monitoring of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, ambient noise, electromagnetic radiation, air quality, water, etc. will help us better manage our city environment.

Our carbon abatement strategy (CAS) will reduce GHG emissions by 16% by 2021 through a targeted programme. We will use solar power to ensure 7% of our energy needs come from renewable, clean energy by 2021. Water recycling and efficient irrigation techniques will be employed. Hybrid and electric vehicles will be gradually introduced as sustainable transportation alternatives.

Digital government

We as Dubai Government want to maintain our edge by fully embracing technology for the happiness of our people.

More specifically, by 2021, we aim to make all government services and transactions paperless and cashless and without the need for visiting government offices.

We want residents and businesses to be able to access government services and carry out transactions anywhere any time through their channel of preference, be it websites, mobile phones or other.

Furthermore, we will provide all eligible open and shared city data through our Smart Dubai Platform by 2021.

Way forward

We will work with various stakeholders in an inclusive and collaborative way to steer our city to the next level by 2021. Smart Dubai Office (SDO) will support this transformation through targeted strategy, policy, technology, and data interventions.

We have also identified 42 strategic KPIs with 2021 targets and 58 additional KPIs to track our progress and to benchmark it globally.

Note: The complete World Economic Forum (WEF) paper published by Her Excellency Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr can be found at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/05/how-digital-technology-is-transforming-dubai