SMART DUBAI’S LEAD­ING LADY

DR AISHA BIN BISHR OUT­LINES THE FU­TURE OF A SMARTER CITY

CEO Middle East - - CONTENTS - BY SHAYAN SHAKEEL

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.

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Dr Aisha Bin Bishr has been the di­rec­tor gen­eral of Smart Dubai for the past five years

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