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16 March 2015

Open Data in Focus at MBRSG's 5th Dubai Smart Cities Forum

Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG) held today the fifth Smart Cities Forum focusing on the Open Data and highlighting the UAE’s efforts in making government data and information seamlessly available to people.  
In her opening address, Dr Aisha Bin Bishr, Deputy Director General, The Executive Office and member of Smart Dubai Executive Committee, commended the role of Dubai Smart Cities Forum in enabling dialogue on the implementation of the emirate’s smart city vision. 
Abdullah Madani, Chairman of Dubai Open Data Committee, and Joy Bonaguro, Chief Data Officer, City of San Francisco, led the sessions that highlighted the role and importance of Open Data for informed decision making in developing smart city projects. 
In her presentation, Joy Bonaguro highlighted her role as the first Chief Data Officer for San Francisco, where she is mandated to standardize the city’s data policies across departments and make the city’s data more user-friendly and accessible. Bonaguro is also responsible for establishing and managing data coordinators within individual city departments to develop and monitor efforts at compiling Open Data. 
Bonaguro said: “The importance of Open Datasets in creating workable solutions that can be utilized in everyday life and in emergency situations cannot be emphasized enough. Open Data adds intrinsic value with its ability to influence decision making and offers a positive contribution to improving the quality of life of individuals, organizations, and society in general.”
San Francisco’s Chief Data Officer further discussed the city’s experience in dealing with challenges such as compiling and categorizing data, publishing and updating such data while offering people access to the data through creating apps that enable citizens to elevate quality of all aspects of life. 
Bonaguro added: “Addressing these challenges requires putting in place the right policies and ensuring cooperation among government and private departments. Technical expertise to cull available data about the city and contextualize it is also of vital importance. Only through following this process can Open Data be transformed into beneficial content that can address issues such as housing, transportation, and health, among others.” 
In his address on Dubai’s Open Data Committee (DODC) and the role it plays in the transition of Dubai into one of the smartest cities, Abdullah Madani, Chairman of Dubai Open Data Committee, said: “Realizing the critical role of Open Data in achieving its smart city vision, Dubai established a Dubai Open Data Committee in December 2014. Our vision is to provide data that enriches the quality of life and brings happiness to Dubai’s residents and citizens through easing information flow and ensuring information security. 
“The ultimate objective of the committee is to outline the strategy for Dubai’s Open Data policy, propose a bill on implementing Open Data and provide an action plan for enforcing the bill into a law in coordination with all concerned parties.” 
Discussing the issues of private, restricted, and classified data, Madani highlighted the challenges related to opening up data and how to improve the processes. He discussed the creation of Dubai Open Data that includes government, private sectors and individual data, in addition to data resulting from interaction among those parties.  
He pointed out: “The aim of utilizing Open Data is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of service, increase the engagement of citizens and residents and customers, increase knowledge and support decision making and enrich and enhance the opportunities for innovation to promote economic growth. Integrated data on Dubai will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of services and open up opportunities for innovation and creativity to support decision-making in the government sector, private sector and individuals.” 
The presentations were followed by an open-floor discussion that covered a number of issues related to Open Data including privacy protection, security requirements, regulations and legislations, in addition to collaboration among government, private sector, and individuals.   
Dr Ali Sebaa Al Marri, Executive President, MBRSG, said: “As Dubai moves along in its smart transformation initiative, the Smart Cities Forum serves as a platform for sharing knowledge and experience and for exploring new ideas and concepts. Today’s session brought together international and local perspectives on the issues of Open Data, its use, challenges and benefits. The platform provided by the Dubai Smart Cities Forum plays a pivotal role in developing our distinctive model that benefits from best international criteria and cater for our unique requirements.” 
The Dubai Smart Cities forum brings together industry experts and organizations leaders to share expertise, discuss challenges, and review best practices as part of joint efforts towards realizing the Dubai Smart City initiative. The sessions are designed to update government officials and decisions makers with the latest developments in smart city projects. 
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