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The Rise of Smart Cities: Dubai

Thursday, 22 December 2016
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As urbanisation gathers pace, and more people move to densely populated urban areas, smart cities are the only way to provide excellent quality of life while dealing with global challenges such as climate change, urban population growth and mass transit.

As cities become larger and more populous, quality of life for residents becomes very important. Effectively managing millions of residents living in close proximity requires connectivity, intelligent service provision, and real-time traffic and public services management – with the aim of enabling a happier and better life. To put it simply: for residents to become happier, cities will need to become smarter.

And that’s why Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai H.H. Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum has expressly put happiness at the very centre of his vision for Dubai to quickly transition to smart city status. As the Emirate prepares for a future where its population swells to a potential 9 million people, it is initiating a raft of innovative measures to ensure resident happiness – a goal enshrined within a formal happiness index.

Smart City Final

To achieve its happiness goal, Dubai has listed four key issues — resource efficiency, seamless service delivery, safety and risk mitigation and the enrichment of lifestyles and business experiences - as priorities within the smart city system.

Within this framework, the city has 100 initiatives currently being implemented in transport, communications, electricity, economic services, infrastructure, and urban planning. 1000 government and private services are in the process of “going smart”. Solar power is being connected to houses and buildings, smart meters are being rolled out to monitor consumption effectively, and “smart palm trees” power free Wi-Fi hotspots.

Generally speaking, smart cities streamline service delivery with inter-connected transport systems, web-enabled power grids, smart monitoring of city infrastructure and responsive services. They use technology to make sure that roads and physical infrastructure are used to their most efficient capacity. Local people gain more participation in the government of their city by participating through e-feedback. Services are re-designed on a continual basis in response to data collected and feedback from inhabitants.

Dubai is taking an integrated approach to the smart city model. So while the energy sector will use smart grids, and the transport sector will manage traffic systems digitally, the real “smart city” will come to life when these sectors are all interconnected with each other, and accessible via mobile to every resident.


And while the government’s vision is leading the way, the private sector has a huge role to play in delivering smart and accessible services. If private enterprise stands behind government initiatives, Dubai will reach true smart city status very soon.

Last modified on Thursday, 22 December 2016 06:25

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