SMART DUBAI’S LEADING LADY
DR AISHA BIN BISHR OUTLINES THE FUTURE OF A SMARTER CITY
What are some of the key announcements Smart Dubai has made this year?
We are very proud to announce the
UAE Pass. Of course, we have the UAE ID (Emirates ID) but the digital ID and digital signature we unveiled will be one of the foundations that any city needs to transform in its embrace of the future. We are working with our partners to make this a national initiative, so instead of something just for Dubai, we will be the national operator of the UAE Pass. At the exhibition, you will also see a number of proof of concept solutions concerning blockchain and AI that are available today.
How has this year fared in terms of Industry 4.0 technologies?
This year was one of real transformation for us. Many of these technologies have matured significantly like the language behind the blockchain and AI. By 2020, you will be able to see many applicable government applications that rely on these technologies. I’m happy with the pace of transformation so far; no other city in the world has such a dedicated transformation agenda.
One of your milestone achievements has been the Metro, the world’s largest automated rail service. What else would you say will be a similar success?
The smart platform that hosts the city’s data. It is already live, and today many of the emirate’s open and confidential data sets are hosted on the platform. Now we’re moving from simply hosting these data sets to utilising them. We’re focusing on data science now to see what we can do with data in terms of modelling and algorithms. The Dubai Data Establishment is in fact ahead of the game in terms of proof of concepts and projects, many of which you can see at our pavilions, which rely on big data that is being generated from systems and the Internet of Things. Then there is the AI we are developing on top.
It’s important to understand that without data you cannot operate AI or even the blockchain. So this smart platform is really the digital backbone of the city and pivotal to the eventual transformation of the city. In the last few years, I’ve seen this goal progressing from being an idea, to strategy, blueprint, a physical platform and today applications.
Technologies like blockchain, AI and big data all require investments in human capital. Are you doing this?
Last month we partnered with Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and launched a Data Science master’s degree programme. This is parallel to many other executive diplomas that the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government has introduced to educate government employees as well as the private sector in how to make sense of these technologies. We work with many local private sectors such as Majid al Futtaim, Emirates and a number of others, all of whom are keen to understand how Industry 4.0 tools can help them in their own industries.
“WITHOUT DATA YOU CANNOT OPERATE AI OR EVEN THE BLOCKCHAIN. SO THIS SMART PLATFORM IN DUBAI IS REALLY THE DIGITAL BACKBONE OF THE CITY”
The global and regional economy is a bit shaky. Do you think this will affect the uptake of these technologies?
One of the things we’ve done with
Smart Dubai is to invest in the Smart Data Platform and these technologies on behalf of all government entities. If they were to do it by themselves, it would have been very expensive, especially considering that these are all nascent technologies. In our programme to have a centralised platform for all, this will expedite the implementation of these advanced technologies.
A common concern is whether we should be careful in our pursuit of AI. What are your thoughts on that?
We are already using AI in our phone devices and our systems. But even in machines and robots, it is the responsibility of every human to learn how to survive. We needed to learn how to read and write if we want a better future. We needed to learn how to use computers to have better positions at work. Similarly with AI, we need to be open minded to understand how this can improve our lives.
Dr Aisha Bin Bishr has been the director general of Smart Dubai for the past five years