Dubai chooses starter apps in bid to become world's top smart city

Wed, 2014-03-12 06:00 -- Jesse Berst

Competition is a good thing. It pushes people (and cities!) to be their best. In that sense, it is terrific to see Dubai's commitment to become the smartest city in the world. Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid clearly understands that smartness confers a competitive advantage.

It was not that long ago that the Sheik announced Dubai's smart intentions, but the city has already announced several "starter" projects, as you will read below. But watch this space. Everything we hear tells us that Dubai will have more and bigger announcements soon. I hope Dubai's ambitious efforts will push other cities to accelerate their efforts as well. -- Jesse Berst


As Sheikh Mohammed stated in announcing Dubai's ambitious smart city agenda: “Our ambition is that this project touches the life of everyone in our country, of every mother in her house, of every employee in his work, of every investor in his project, of every child in his school, and doctor in his clinic."

The goal, he said, "is to bring about happiness to all.”

That "happiness" will come from a wide variety of initiatives. Among them:

    • Wi-Fi access in all parks, buses and taxis
    • Charging infrastructure for electric vehicles
    • Apps to direct drivers to parking spaces
    • Smart meters that allow people to monitor their water and power use

While the initiatives Dubai is undertaking already exist elsewhere in the world, Amr Salem, managing director for Council Global Partner Cisco’s smart cities division, makes the point that because Dubai is young it can implement them with more ease. And that's a good thing in that the government has set a three-year time-frame for the projects.

“The infrastructure here is much more advanced than many cities that call themselves smart,” Salem told TheNational. But he noted that the impetus for making Dubai smart is to use the technology to its full potential.

“It’s no good having Wi-Fi across the whole city if all you are using it for is YouTube,” he said. “You have to leverage the Wi-Fi for the buses, the traffic, the police, garbage collections."

The challenge, Salem suggested, will be in getting collaboration across all Dubai departments.  "Technology is only an enabler, not an endgame,” he noted.

More from Dubai…
Will Dubai's "smart receipts" revolutionize shopping?
Driver's license delivery by drone? It could happen in Dubai

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Jesse Berst is the founding Chairman of the Smart Cities Council. Click to learn about the benefits you receive when you join the Council for free.