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01 October 2014

Big Data in Focus at Second Session of Dubai Smart Cities Forum Hosted by Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government

Leveraging Big Data for operational and analytical purposes to better plan and conceptualize urban infrastructure and cities of the future will be critical in the evolution of smart cities, reiterated experts and thought leaders at the second session of the Smart Cities Forum hosted by the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG) today.

The session brought together decision makers from the public and private sector to discuss issues related to the Dubai Smart City initiative announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in October 2013.

Big Data is an all-encompassing term for any collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using traditional data processing applications. Set to become the cornerstone of next-generation cities, Big Data can help boost citizen security, cut waste management, anticipate traffic jams and analyze citizen sentiment to catapult our cities into the future.

In her opening address, Dr Aisha Bin Bishr, Assistant Director-General of the Executive Office of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and member of the Executive Committee for Dubai Smart City Initiatives, highlighted the synergy shared by the committee and MBRSG towards spreading knowledge and enhancing awareness on smart cities.

Noting that Dubai is keen to benefit from global best practices and develop a unique smart city model, Dr Bin Bishr said: “Today, there are many challenges in using Big Data but in Dubai we see that as an opportunity to further develop ourselves. Dubai is working to consolidate data through a bundle of projects and platforms. We are also developing enabling legislations and infrastructures that will fast track Dubai into a smarter and happier city.”

Headlining a session on Big Data analytics and their use and impact on government plans, Olga Parra, Smarter Analytics Leader for IBM Middle East and Africa, said: “Smart cities are shaped using information and communications technologies to deliver sustainable economic development and a higher quality of life, while engaging citizens and effectively managing natural resources.

“Governments looking to shape smart cities will need to collect, process, share, store and analyze a vast amount of data coming from multiple different sources in order to turn Big Data into information, and the information into powerful insights. The insights, in turn, will play an important part in improving the decisions made by city leaders.”

Dr Ali Sebaa Al Marri, Executive President, MBRSG, said: “At MBRSG, we aim to join hands with leaders from the public and private sector towards articulating our leadership’s vision to shape Dubai into a smart city. Big Data today plays a crucial role in the transformation of cities into smart cites and is an invaluable tool in urban planning and conceptualizing the future. Once we begin mining data from all over the city in day-to-day operations, we will also change the way we deal with such data.

“We are used to the notion of handling Big Data collected over a considerably long period of time and applying it strategically. However, in a smart city, Big Data will be collected and processed not only for long-term purposes but also to instantly make decisions that affect real-time service delivery at all levels. We also need to focus on information security as a priority area given the transformation that Dubai is witnessing.”

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