June 2015

Dubai Smart Cities Forum - Session 6: Bringing Smart Cities to Life

Image Source: http://www.ahmedabadlife.com/2016/02/ahmedabad-6th-on-list-of-first-20-smart-cities.html

This 6th session of Dubai Smart Cities forum, titled ‘Bringing Smart Cities to Life’, aims to explore how various approaches to technology policy, such as making use of ‘big data’ and ‘the internet of things’ can be combined to further develop Dubai’s infrastructure and produce tangible benefits that benefit Dubai’s residents.

Ahmed Julfar, CEO of Etisalat Group, spoke about Dubai’s achievements in building a world class ICT infrastructure, which is key to building a smart city. Achievements include being ranked first in ‘fiber optics penetrations in households’, ranked first for smart phone penetration, and ranked first for mobile data speed.

The European Commission launched ‘FIRE’ (Future Internet Research and Experimentation) in 2010, for the purpose of exploring ways in which a Smart City can be developed. Its role is to create and support experimental facilities of research and innovation. One such project is called Smart Santander. Luis Munoz, a professor at the University of Cantabria, has run this project for four years. It’s focus is on services and applications of IoT technologies. Successful IoT technologies are then integrated within cities. Experimental projects are in the fields of street parking management, traffic management, environmental monitoring, irrigation, augmented reality and participatory sensing.

However, according to Luis Munoz, the main enabler for innovation and knowledge creation is the city’s ‘brain’. The city’s brain capability is reliant on being able to capture and understand all of a city’s data, and be able to drive insights from them. The city of the future has to be predictive and operate proactively rather than simply being reactive. Big data should become just one of many tools that will enable smart cities to grow organically, thus encouraging citizens to actively participate in the design of services and technologies that will be adopted in the future.

Luis Munoz encouraged Dubai to emulate a project such as ‘Smart Santander’ within UAE to accelerate innovation.