Dubai. Connected, smart, a city that has technology on its radar. And its going to be for everybody. Driven by HH Sheikh Mohammed and his son, Crown Prince HH Sheikh Hamdan, Dubai Smart City is am ambitious but achievable plan that will open up this city to a whole spectrum of digital services and infrastructure.
Many of these plans were revealed last week at Gitex – the technology conference that every one bows to in the Middle East. From apps that provide mobile access to several government e-nitiatives, connected cabs fro Dubai Taxis, healthcare services, and of course online education to the (unconfirmed) promise of public area free wi-fi – its going to leapfrog Dubai ahead of the Valley and other 'smart cities' like Santa Clara in California.
Data isn't cheap in Dubai (I mean, data bundles provided by either of the two telecom providers, du and etisalat), so the Dubai Government will have to look into that as well, but if wi-fi will be free (unconfirmed as of yet) , that's going to really open up access to the internet, get people 'socially' active, and provide several new channels of access, communications, education and other access related benefits.
The technology is here. There's a whole lot of smart phones, and 3G is commonplace, and several connections are today 4G-LTE enabled. As to whether there will be higher speeds at lower rates is crucial to the success of the plans. Further enhancements to the tech spine behind these plans will help enable people in Dubai to use government services online, in particular to manage education, healthcare and security via smart systems, whenever and wherever they are in Dubai. Arriving tourists should find these services handy, and I'm sure that many apps will be developed utilizing services and providing information, entertainment and on-the-go engagement.
The emergence of wearable technologies is important – with access anywhere, Dubai will be a breeding ground for wearable tech based ideas and platforms should be able to develop programs, apps and other tools. It will of course also have a boom effect on the digital media and advertising industries as a smart city will have smart citizens who will be targeted in smart new ways, hopefully.
From renewing your driving license and car registrations, to paying bills online, Dubai is already pretty smart in that sense. But given these fast forward plans, we'll probably see a surge in emerging digital trends like showrooming, visual search and visual web, wearable tech, tap and go NFC based parking and connected shopping. Because Dubai Smart City it's a big step towards utility and value addition, towards technology for all – its bound to succeed.