Interview: Aisha bin Bishr

What role can public-private partnerships play in Dubai’s transformation into a smart city?

AISHA BIN BISHR: Partnerships across all sectors are essential to achieving our “smart city” vision. Cooperating with the private sector, we are able to design a city that is responsive to the needs of its residents and visitors, rather than the other way around.

Learning from and collaborating with private sector partners, we are able to build powerful, customer-centric networks that contribute to a citywide platform for all smart applications, from visa renewal to school registration to laundry services, improving the quality of life and contributing to increased happiness for all. All private sector industries and companies can contribute towards this. From a global shipping and logistics company integrating tracking data with localised GPS networks to ensure on-time deliveries, to a local start-up delivering customised meals based on biometric health data, collaborative public-private partnerships are the foundation of a sustainable smart city transformation.

To what extent can the National Innovation Strategy help to further stimulate innovation?

BIN BISHR: Smart Dubai is aligned with the National Innovation Strategy and supports the four pillars of the strategy: establishing an innovation ecosystem, developing innovation in government, encouraging private sector innovation, and enhancing the innovation skill set of our workforce.

By fostering a culture of innovation in both the federal and local government as well as in the private sector, the strategy supports the exploration of other transformative strategies and processes that will unlock an enhanced quality of life and access to opportunities for all. The formation of the Smart Dubai Office is one example of innovation in governance, as we are pioneering a new and unique model in terms of developing and managing cities.

What is being done to establish Dubai as a regional centre for ICT and develop the human resources needed for such a technical sector?

BIN BISHR: Since the announcement of Dubai Internet City in 2000, the emirate has established itself as a significant regional ICT hub, and is currently home to over 300 global and regional ICT firms. Despite its relatively small geographic size and population, the city has leveraged its location and infrastructure to attract global players to locate to the city.

Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA), a founding strategic partner of Smart Dubai, is developing university-level programmes and diplomas to enhance the smart skills of Dubai’s workforce. In partnership with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), DSOA is sponsoring the first-ever smart city masters-level degree programme for senior Dubai government officials. The degree is open to all qualified applicants and includes a capstone project that may be implemented by each participating government department. The programme – fully developed by the RIT New York faculty – will be piloted in Dubai before being expanded to other universities in the US and around the world. RIT and DSOA have previously offered a seven-month, smart-city certification programme, which is open to any interested applicant.

When do you expect a completely integrated smart environment to be achieved?

BIN BISHR: Smart Dubai has set an ambitious time-line to create the world’s smartest city in Dubai by 2017, delivering 100 smart initiatives and 1000 smart services across six city-wide dimensions and creating a more seamless and impressive experience for all residents and visitors to the emirate. In the first phase of the Smart Dubai roadmap, announced in mid-2015, we have already identified over 450 initiatives and services to be delivered in the coming four years. Of this number over 100 are complete.