In October 2013, H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai announced a project to transform Dubai into a 'smart city'. The purpose of the project was primarily to provide seamless services to the public.
This was to be achieved by inter-connecting the departments and entities of Dubai Government with each other. People would have access to high-speed wireless internet connections to get government services from their smart devices.
The project also aimed to provide bespoke and enhanced services in the fields of education, healthcare, utilities, environment and vehicular traffic and related areas.
6 pillars, 100 initiatives
In March 2014, Sheikh Mohammed launched a strategy to transform Dubai into a 'smart city'. The strategy features 6 key pillars and 100 initiatives on transport, communications, infrastructure, electricity, economic services, urban planning. Under the strategy, 1000 government services would go smart in the next three years.
The 6 key pillars are:
- Economic services and
- Urban planning.
Features of the Dubai Smart City initiative
Under the initiative, free Wi-Fi will be provided in public areas. As of May 2015, there are more than 200 free Wi-Fi spots in Dubai. Palm-shaped devices offer free Wi-Fi to people on Dubai's beaches and in parks.
This would be a public place that would have been transformed into the smartest spot in the world. Companies can provide smart solutions for customers and facilitate transactions such as licences, visas, customs and other government services.
The 5-D control room would be the world's largest room which will be used to follow-up the process of transforming Dubai into a smart city. It would be also used to oversee the government projects and service indicators, roads, weather conditions and emergency situations etc.
- Electric car charging stations
Electric car charging stations would be set up to boost the use of environment-friendly cars.
The smart parking system would tell drivers the availability and location of parking spaces.
Live updates on traffic would help you plan your journey before you even leave your home.
- Smart metres and smart power grid
Smart metres will help customers to monitor their power and water use in real time. Smart power grid will let you sell unused solar energy.
- 'Largest open global laboratory' to promote science
The largest open global laboratory is for those who wish to conduct research and development in science and immediately apply it.
- 'My Window to Dubai' programme
This programme would facilitate information sharing of data about government entities, schools, hospitals, roads and transport, sensor systems, buildings, energy and others.
I-Dubai would provide information relating to the services of the municipality.
The 'smart parks and beaches' project would provide specific information on weather conditions, sea, temperatures and safety guidelines.
Projects and initiatives in support of the smart city
The following projects and initiatives that existed before the launch of the Smart City initiative, play an important role in making Dubai a smart city.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is in use to levy road toll Salik in Dubai since July 2007.
Nol Card in use as a unified card to pay for transport services in Dubai. In September 2013, RTA launched the Smart Nol card which enables payments through NFC.
In May 2013, Roads and Transport Authority launched eWallet; it's an online account through which one can make secure online payment.
- QR codes to locate addresses
In April 2011, Dubai Municipality launched a 'Digital City' project in which each building in the emirate would be assigned a Quick Response (QR) Code. This QR code would contain all details related to the building and the plot embedded on it. By scanning the codes, users can quickly access the desired eServices of the municipality through their mobile phones.
The following projects and initiatives were introduced after the launch of the Smart City initiative.
- Environment-friendly electric bikes for patrolling
In January 2014, Dubai Police announced that they would start using Segway-style electric bikes for patrolling to get eco-friendly.
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The Smart Dubai Index is a set of indicators that will highlight the achievements of Smart Dubai and illuminate future opportunities. The Index Wheel is split into six parts following the six dimensions of Smart Dubai. Within each section a number of tangible performance measures have been formulated which indicate successful implementation or development of smart initiatives, products and services.
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Dubai Government launched apps for smart devices which facilitate quick access to their services and enables quick payments.
Through the mPay app, you can pay for:
- Dubai Electricity & Water (DEWA) payments
- Dubai Police traffic fines
- RTA Salik and Nol recharge
- Du utility bills
- Etisalat utility bills
- Dubai Customs services
- Dubai Municipality services.
The mPay app is available on iTunes and Google Play.
Through the DubaiNow app, you can pay for services in the areas of:
- Religion (Islam)
- Security and justice
The DubaiNow app is available on iTunes and Google Play.
On the desktop, it can be accessed through the DubaiNow website. It provides instant digital access to over 50 government services, all in one place.
Smart Car Rental Service
The service enables customers, especially public transport users, to rent cars for short periods not exceeding six hours via smart apps Udrive (Android / iOS) and Ekar (Android / iOS). Fare ranges from 40 to 50 fils per minute.
Resident customers should first register in the system to avail the service by entering ID, driving license and credit card details, in addition to a photo of the ID holder (to verify registration in the system). Visitors are required to enter passport, visa, driving license and credit card details.
Upon validating the accuracy of data provided, the customer is issued with a Personal Identification Number (PIN), before he or she can enter the user name and password. The customer can now track the cars available and then book one.