Future Cities: A Nexus Of Smart Utilities, Smart Transport, And Smart Tourism

Dr. Hichem Maya

Increasing urbanization represents one of the greatest challenges and opportunities today. The goal is to sustainably and holistically develop these future cities that will work on a smart, integrated, and connected digital network to improve livability and grow economic prosperity.

Innovation in this context means different things to different sectors. For citizens, it’s about quality of life, well-run institutions, and jobs. For businesses, it’s about the ability to thrive and innovate. For urban governments, it’s about transforming operations, empowering officials, and engaging better with citizens.

One of the top priorities of Dubai Plan 2021 is to create a smart and sustainable city that is integrated and connected. By developing and investing in a long-term strategy for success, governments can collaborate with technology providers on things such as improving traffic congestion, rethinking the distribution of utilities and resources, and optimizing tourist movement throughout the city.

Smarter traffic flow to reduce congestion

Congestion costs cities billions in fuel and wasted time, as well as increased accidents and pollution. Combining an intelligent traffic management platform and a traffic congestion management system could be the solution Dubai needs to manage roadway traffic. This approach involves intricate measurement of traffic flows and congestion to inform city planning.

Big Data from smart applications can deliver instant insights on traffic flows to help streamline movement within the city. Centralization of data from smart sensors supports data quality and contributes to a traffic data model with a flexible interface for leveraging tools and value-added innovations.

Smart sensors, along with algorithms applied to incoming data, can also enable decision-making to improve congestion and traffic flow. These tools can provide an early warning system for traffic problems, support public travel guidance systems, and create a working framework for traffic control from all perspectives. In each case, the aim is a safer, less congested city.

Smarter utilities to save resources

To meet customer, regulator, and shareholder expectations, the role of utility companies is expanding beyond providing utility services into connecting various components of the new energy economy.

Water is a critical resource that’s in short supply, and leaks, which are costly in terms of money and the environment, must be promptly fixed. IoT sensors in the water distribution network detect leaks early on, reducing the risk of water pollution and conserving scarce resources.

Energy distribution can be controlled with smart billing that incorporates meter and device management, as well as enterprise asset management. The results are significant: reducing the annual service and maintenance cost by 31% by resolving issues at the root, and achieving a 71% improvement in recordable accident frequency by integrating safety and health systems with asset management.

Smart tourism to welcome visitors (and support citizens)

Dubai’s smart city initiative helps tourists to feel welcomed in the city by promoting the local economy, capitalizing on tourist expenditures, and distributing tourism to minimize crowding. The advantages of the network include information about real-time traffic, local attractions and landmarks, and transportation arrival and departures.

The tourist network connects public and private enterprises with tourists, visitors, and constituents. Leveraging Internet of Things capabilities; Big Data; predictive algorithms; and in-memory computing, mobile, and hybrid cloud platforms delivers the right proposals and offers from the relevant service providers to tourists at the right time, in the right context, and based on geolocalized and personalized profiles.

iBeacons placed at selected tourist attractions could push information of interest to the user. Businesses can also leverage user behaviors and selections to target and engage customers more effectively. Not only will this system improve the tourist experience, but by successfully distributing tourist crowds, citizens will enjoy a better quality of life.

With this network, the city can also create tourist profiles to improve urban planning and better balance visitor crowds by enticing tourists to change their plans in response to compelling offerings made by the city’s partners.

The vision for a smart city platform will enable Dubai to establish an urban network that can directly link small business owners with customers (both citizens and visitors) through low-cost distribution channels.

For more on how cities are leveraging smart technology, listen to experts discussĀ Smarter Cities: Future Metropolis and Societal Impact.


Dr. Hichem Maya

About Dr. Hichem Maya

Dr. Hichem Maya leads the industry digital transformation and value engineering team in the Middle East and North Africa at SAP. The organization helps businesses from a variety of industries to identify the proper value generated through digital technologies adoption.