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Smart cities need a transportation system unique to it

Abu Dhabi and Dubai frame a strategy that assigns high priority to such a switch

Gulf News

Turning global cities into environment-friendly places is a practical solution to overcoming major challenges brought by unprecedented population boom and prosperity. Smarts cities are not only practical but highly imperative, especially since around 70 per cent of the population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050.

Building the smart and sustainable city of the future, which can fulfil almost all the needs of residents, however, is a highly complex process that requires consistency, cooperation and transition of all sectors of the economy and across all segments of society.

The public transport sector’s shift towards a more sustainable model is one of the main drivers building smart communities. This is especially true in the UAE, where the transportation sector plays a crucial role in the government’s smart transformation efforts to bring happiness to citizens and visitors. Urban planners and experts consider the sector as part of the overarching pillars of the UAE’s smart cities outlook along with energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.

Sustainable transport systems contribute significantly to the environmental, social, and economic foundations of development. The worldwide initiative of limiting global warming to less than 2 degree Celsius and keeping the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is unlikely to be achieved without significant contributions from the transport sector.

Similarly, the UAE’s goal of creating a sustainable city where the provision of world-class services is the highest priority will be difficult to realise without redesigning the local transport systems within the framework of sustainable transportation.

As such, the Abu Dhabi Government gives a clear emphasis on public transport as one of the key areas of its Vision 2030 development plan. The Dubai Government, on the other hand, promotes self-driving smart transportation to make 25 per cent of total trips in Dubai driverless by 2030. The savings and economic returns of this strategy are expected to reach Dh22 billion annually.

The government has launched the UAE National Plan for Smart Government Goals aligned with the UAE Vision 2021 to promote smart devices and encourage development of predictive and persuasive smart services.

Applying this to the transport sector, predictive analytics, for example, can provide drivers with prior warnings of accidents or congestion, and variable speed limits to control traffic through congested areas, as well as warnings of people working on the roads. Implementing driverless vehicles and a “Hyperloop” is also a great contribution to attain a sustainable transport system.

Undoubtedly, the culture of excessive car use needs to transition towards a balanced use of sustainable modes — a goal that smart cities can play crucial roles in. The latter helps increase the effectiveness of roads and public transportation networks, as well as encourage use of environment-friendly vehicles. Additionally, smart communities help people plan their trips more easily by relying on accurate and timely information about roads and transportation services.

The UAE’s leaders are fully aware of the significance of building a world-class and sustainable public transport infrastructure to support the steady march to a more eco-friendly and vibrant future. As such, key programs, policies and efforts designed to enhance the local transportation effectiveness have been put in place to help achieve this ambitious vision.

The writer is CEO of Imdaad.