Dubai is pursuing a digital path to a smart future


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

Silos are the biggest threat to data usage. Data exchange between agencies is therefore of paramount importance for the digital economy. Part of Digital Dubai’s mission is to seamlessly share data between different agencies to solve real-world challenges by identifying where that data is stored, what its quality is, and how to effectively link it to the bigger picture. For this reason, Dubai creates a number of primary registers for data.

A “primary registry” is a single point of truth that consolidates fragmented data from different sources into a single trusted database. This enables stakeholders to access trusted data from a single location to fuel innovation and create new solutions. Ultimately, Dubai Data aims to become a market broker for city-wide data by creating a well-regulated market that allows participants to securely exchange data with clear business value to generate measurable benefits.

Dubai has also developed the DubaiNow app to gather all city services in one place, including from paying utility bills, paying for parking, signing leases and accessing travel information. The platform gives residents access to more than 120 government and private services from over 30 entities. The connection between sustainability and technology is now established. In a recent study by Bain & Company and the World Economic Forum, 40 percent of business leaders said they believe digital technologies are already positively impacting their sustainability goals. For urban centers, sustainability first requires measuring water and electricity use and identifying consumption patterns so that authorities can take them into account. As part of the Digital Authority, Dubai has created an electricity and water usage dashboard that visualizes how these resources are being used and allows tenants to compare the usage of buildings or entire communities.

City planners are the main beneficiaries of data. In a city as dynamic as Dubai, where population movements in and out of and between communities is the norm, Dubai analyzes and visualizes 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 shows general market sentiment and helps forecast future population growth.

These online data registrations form the basis of the Dubai Paperless Strategy, which aims to make the Dubai government completely paper-free by 2021, eliminating more than a billion sheets of paper used in government transactions each year. The existence of these digital databases also offers the opportunity to make this data accessible to new emerging technologies. For this reason, Dubai is among the pioneers in adopting fourth industrial revolution technologies such as AI and blockchain.

The emirate launched the Dubai Blockchain Strategy, which aims to achieve annual savings of Dhs 5.5 billion in document processing while creating an open platform to share the technology with cities around the world. The Dubai Blockchain Strategy is built on three pillars – Government Efficiency, Industry Foundation and International Leadership. Similarly, the Dubai AI Lab Strategy, in partnership with IBM, is building a growing network of partners from across the government and private sectors to provide the essential tools and go-to-market support that enable them to develop AI services and applications in their respective implement areas.

The Dubai Digital Strategy is a living, dynamic plan. Recently, the agency 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 aims to save customers time and effort instead of waiting for the police to arrive at the scene or to go to police stations.

Data protection is a growing concern for any company with a public interface. Handling confidential public information is particularly important for organizations. To enhance its cybersecurity capabilities, Dubai Electronic Security Center has announced the launch of Cyber ​​Node in partnership with Thales Group. Cyber ​​Node seeks to educate the city’s cyber workforce and protect Dubai’s critical information infrastructure from cyber risks.

The Digital Dubai initiative envisions transforming the traditional top-bottom city management model into one that is representative and sustainable. When businesses, residents, and city governments come together through a common data platform, businesses thrive, citizens can contribute to the city’s well-being, and municipalities save time and money by eliminating manual processes.

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