Dubai sizes up the smart city challenge

From smart parking to smart utilities, Dubai set to leverage Internet of Everything and Smart City best practices.

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Dubai sizes up the smart city challenge Dubai has the potential to become one of the smartest cities in the world, says Al-Bawab.
By  Ala’A Al-Bawab Published  March 25, 2015

Smart Cities may seem like a futuristic concept – but residents, businesses, and tourists in cities like Dubai are already experiencing the benefits.

Guided by Dubai Smart City and Dubai Plan 2021, Dubai aims to become one of the world’s best connected, smartest and happiest cities by 2017. By leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) and Internet of Everything (IoE), which will see 50 billion networked connections by 2020, Dubai can achieve a potential value of AED 17.9 billion by 2019.

The Internet of Everything will create value by lowering costs, improving employee productivity, generating new revenue, and enhancing citizen benefits – aligned with the six Dubai Smart City pillars of life, society, mobility, economy, government and environment.

Demonstrating the potential for Dubai, two of the world’s leading Smart Cities – Barcelona, Spain and Nice, France – have at their foundation a shared network platform and citywide Wi-Fi network, which support sensors in everyday objects that transmit data back to government agencies, providing a new level of analysis in city services and livability.

Smart Transportation is the ‘Game-Changer’

In Nice, the ‘Connected Boulevard’ of Boulevard Victor Hugo is a Smart City proof-of-concept in smart circulation (traffic), smart lighting, smart waste management, and environmental monitoring. Two hundred wireless devices and sensors enable a new parking system with traffic detectors and Wi-Fi access points.

A mobile app enables drivers to find and pay for parking, and provides real-time information on public transportation and bike or car share – potentially reducing traffic congestion by 30%.

Similarly, sensors in parking spaces in Barcelona’s Born District provide maps to available spaces and send alerts when meters expire – already increasing parking revenue by $50 million per year, and potentially supporting variable parking fees based on demand.

Dubai already hosts advanced transportation, with the driverless Dubai Metro, automated Salik tolls, and soon taxis with Wi-Fi. Global studies show 40% of city centre traffic is caused by looking for parking, and smart parking may be Dubai’s ‘game changer’.

Driverless transport in particular, set to be common in Dubai by 2020, can unlock new opportunities for the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority – including traffic management, and personalised services like smart parking and electric vehicle charging stations.

Smarter Environment and Utilities Enhance Livability

The same smart sensors that monitor traffic can also provide real-time data on temperature, noise, humidity, gas, and dust-particle concentration - painting a picture of livability, while detecting levels outside of set thresholds and triggering citywide alerts.

With the growing need for natural resources, public utilities need to modernise aging infrastructure for reliable power delivery. Smart grids, which automate grid control, and smart lighting, which adjust based on weather and traffic, will play key roles.

In Nice, environmental monitoring projects a 25% improvement in air quality, and smart lighting can deliver 20% savings in power. Barcelona’s smart meters are saving $58 million per year, and smart lighting is set to save $47 million over ten years.

Equipped with a 10-year plan to raise production capacity, upgrade infrastructure, and implement smart grids, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) aims to deploy smart electric cars, smart utility meters, and solar generation to enhance energy usage.

It may not be glamorous, but connected trash containers are also impacting city services – with Barcelona’s smart waste management program finding a potential 10% saving. Similarly, Dubai can deploy smart waste management to enhance collection routes and public health, while freeing up funds for additional city services.

Maximise Value with Inter-Agency Collaboration

Barcelona’s Smart City projects are grouped together under ‘Smart City Barcelona’, eliminating department silos, and involving government, residents, and businesses.

The Barcelona Mayor’s Smart City strategy team guides the city’s master plan, which has three key aspects: expanding sensors, layering them with an open developer platform for analytics, and sharing open data with public and private stakeholders to improve services.

The Executive Committee of Smart Dubai aims to implement 100 programs and 1,000 smart services by 2015, which have included the Dubai Department of Economic Development’s recently-launched ‘24/7’ kiosk, which provides around-the-clock access to business and licensing services, and a telepresence connection to government agents.

To maximise the value creation, Dubai Government should enable cross-agency collaboration, combine use cases, and redesign services and processes for mobility. By taking the next step of establishing a citywide budget and dashboard, Dubai will be one step closer to becoming the world’s smartest city by 2017.

Ala’A Al-Bawab is regional sales manager for the UAE at Cisco, which has more than 90 Smart+Connected Communities projects around the world.

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