Dubai smart city will be the talk of GITEX

Thinking Cities
By Thinking Cities October 17, 2016 13:45

Dubai smart city will be the talk of GITEX

Global experts in urban planning and smart technology will discuss the important role Dubai will play in supporting the development of smart cities in the Middle East

As global government and technology experts converge on Dubai for GITEX Technology Week 2016, the city has emerged as one of the few in the Middle East to offer smart city benchmarks.
Smart cities use technology to analyse data sent from sensors over Wi-Fi networks to enhance people’s daily lives and governance. Prominent use cases include solving challenges such as traffic congestion and utilities distribution, and launching mobile government services.

As the world urbanises, the impact of the internet of things (IoT) on smart cities could reach $1.6tn by 2025, including $800bn in transportation and $700bn in healthcare, according to a recent report by research firm the McKinsey Global Institute.

Jonathan Reichental, CIO of the City of Palo Alto, California, a key speaker at GITEX, said governments and industry first needed to agree on what actually makes a city smart.

He said Dubai’s efforts to develop global benchmarks would help innovators, from Silicon Valley to Dubai to Bangalore, to measure how they are improving people’s lives.

Carlo Ratti, director at the MIT Senseable City Lab, Massachusetts, another key speaker at GITEX, said: “I would like to put forward the necessity of a change of paradigm in how we treat and discuss the smart city.”

Ratti said smart cities had become the buzzword for urban planning in recent years. In fact, the term smart cities had been overused and sometimes abused in recent years, he said. “That is why I prefer to use the term ‘senseable city’ instead – because it puts the human side, instead of the technology side, at the centre.”

Focused on people

The common denominator of all the projects the MIT Senseable City Lab had done was being focused on people, rather than technology, said Ratti. “The fact that our cities are becoming ‘senseable’ is simply the manifestation of a broad technological trend – the internet is entering the spaces we live in, and is becoming the internet of things, impacting our ways to understand, design and, ultimately, live in cities,” he added.

Reichental agreed, pointing out that it was a mistake to think of a smart city as a project. This made it appear like there was one set of objectives and once they had been met, then all was finished, he said. “In my view, the work we do to make our cities better places to live, work, and play in is never done,” he added.

“Therefore, a smart city is never finished. It keeps evolving. The needs of a city like Palo Alto today will be different from its needs 30 years from now. Right now, we are focused on a framework for all our different smart city work. The work we are doing includes moving to renewable energy across the entire city.”

Thinking Cities
By Thinking Cities October 17, 2016 13:45