Ed­i­tor’s let­ter

Smart cities? Sure. But the real chal­lenge is for cities not to get smart, but to stay smart.

Comms MEA - - Contents -

It’s tough liv­ing in the desert. Or is it? Plus: look­ing ahead to this year’s edi­tion of the Gulf In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy Ex­hi­bi­tion, bet­ter known

as GI­TEX.

It’s tough liv­ing in the desert.

At least, so I’ve heard. To be hon­est, I wouldn’t know. Af­ter all, I love the heat; my com­plete and ut­ter in­tol­er­ance for any tem­per­a­tures be­low 40 de­grees Cel­sius is leg­endary. But there’s also this: the so-called “desert” I sup­pos­edly live in nowa­days is pretty well-con­nected.

One rea­son why it’s so well-con­nected: smart cities. AI. Blockchain. Not just vir­tual re­al­ity, but mixed re­al­ity and aug­mented re­al­ity. Hy­per-per­son­al­i­sa­tion. Adap­tive net­works. Bur­geon­ing au­to­ma­tion. On­line and mo­bile ev­ery- thing. You get the gist.

A lot of talk about smart cities is how they can be more ef­fi­cient and, ul­ti­mately, make us happier. To that end, Dubai is do­ing a pretty good job.

Take the Paper­less Strat­egy – which will save count­less trees (and thus the en­vi­ron­ment) and stream­line ser­vices. Or the Roads and Trans­port Au­thor­ity’s new smart sys­tem in­tended to tackle the prob­lem of long waits for trans­port at ma­jor events. When first com­ing here, I was amazed how quickly my res­i­dency visa was pro­cessed – from go­ing into the of­fice to be pho­tographed to hav­ing the visa in my hands, the en­tire process took less than a week; a tes­ta­ment, truly, to ef­fi­ciency in the dig­i­tal age we live in to­day.

But just as hu­mans need to keep learn­ing to stay on top of life, so too do our cities need to adapt to chang­ing tech­nolo­gies and times, lest they be left in the prover­bial dust.

Spoiler: smart cities is one of our fea­tures this month. Oh, and it’s also one of the themes of this year’s Gulf In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy Ex­hi­bi­tion, bet­ter known to most peo­ple sim­ply as GI­TEX. Since this is our GI­TEX is­sue, af­ter all, it’s rather fit­ting, no?

Of course, GI­TEX is also all about the lat­est and great­est when it comes to in­no­va­tions. We’d be re­miss if we didn’t cover a bit of the same – which is why we caught up with Flytxt CEO Dr Vinod Va­sude­van to chat about some very cool things they are do­ing with ma­chine learn­ing, big data and AI.

We’re also car­ry­ing for­ward the mo­men­tum of the last is­sue – but there’s al­ways room for im­prove­ment and fine-tun­ing even the most well-oiled of ma­chines. At the very least, we’re con­tin­u­ing the en­ergy that last is­sue has gen­er­ated, and in­clud­ing more in­ter­views and ex­pert anal­y­sis and com­men­tary from folks who know the in­dus­try well; that’s not go­ing to change.

Any­way, so here’s our GI­TEX is­sue, laid bare for your pe­rusal, scru­tiny, pa­per hat mak­ing, and/or what­ever else it is you do with mag­a­zines af­ter you’ve (hope­fully) read them. And speak­ing of GI­TEX, maybe see you there.

Just as hu­mans need to keep learn­ing to stay on top of life, so too do our cities need to adapt to chang­ing tech­nolo­gies and times, lest they be left in the prover­bial dust.”

Pre­par­ing for to­mor­row is a big theme ev­ery year at GI­TEX.

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