Big data will drive the next stage of urban revolution and improve the lives of future generations, according to a panel of government and industry experts who discussed the future of smart cities at the World Green Economy Summit (WGES 2017) in Dubai on Tuesday.
“Data analytics is at the epicentre of smart city design,” Osman Sultan, CEO of Dubai-based telecoms operator Du told delegates. “The future of cities should depend on the interests of their biggest stakeholders, the citizens, and all planning decisions should be directed toward making their lives more easy, safe, efficient, and healthy,” he said.
Norman L. Gilsdorf, president of Honeywell’s High Growth Regions for the Middle East, Turkey, Russia and Central Asia, indicated that city planners can successfully integrate urban areas with technology if they harness the data available to them.
“Data available from all the smart devices can be refined to make intelligent decisions,” he said. “This is how city planners will determine how to construct the buildings and transportation systems of the future.”
Earlier this week, Honeywell signed a deal with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) to install a further 150,000 smart metres to monitor energy usage across the emirate. These are in addition to the 250,000 that have already been installed.
Yousef Ahmed Baselaib, an executive director of sustainable real estate for Abu Dhabi-based renewables company Masdar, said data analytics is being used to build out plans for Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.
“Masdar City takes into account all the factors that affect sustainable living, collectively, such as happiness, convenience, accessibility, traffic, noise level, C02 emission, humidity, cooling, and so forth. Data analytics helps us set targets and measure our performance,” he said.
Dr. Daeyeon Cho, executive director for the Smart Cities board at the Korea Agency for Infrastructure Technology Advancement (KAIA), Republic of Korea, said: “In Korea, we use city data to build smart cities. The data helps us to engage various sectors and enables us to plan construction projects, mitigate traffic problems, and improve public transportation.”
Axel Threlfall, editor-at-large from Reuters United Kingdom, who moderated the panel, argued that the smart cities of the future will not be the ones with the best technology but spaces that enhance the happiness of its citizens.
Sultan added: “It is easy to lose sight of the big picture when the focus is on technology alone. While studying smart city models all over the world, we are reminded again and again about the purpose of building smart cities. Happiness should be the biggest factor determining the construction of smart cities and adoption of technology.”
The World Green Economy Summit is being held at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre on 24-25 October. Thomson Reuters is a media partner for the event.