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Happy cities need smart services: Panel

Smart power, municipal and road services improve quality of life, say Dubai top managers

Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/Gulf News
Gulf News

Dubai: Top officials of Dubai’s energy, municipal and roads sectors say a happy city depends greatly on smart services infrastructure which underpin a mega city’s high quality of life.

On the final day of the World Green Economy Summit (Wges) on Thursday, senior government heads said Dubai is making great strides to upgrade services that are on a par with world standards.

In a panel discussion, moderator Dr Aisha Bin Bishr, director-general of Smart Dubai Office, noted that a “smart city is necessary to make it [high quality of life] happen.”

Saeed Mohammad Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, said the energy body has enacted 11 sweeping initiatives to boost quality of life for citizens in Dubai.

“A smart city is a safe, healthy and integrated city,” Al Tayer told the audience.

To get there, Al Tayer said “innovation and creativity are important. The UAE is a model in regards to resources”.

The summit is one example of creating a smart city by bringing together green experts towards a sustainable future to accelerate the transition to a green economy, he said.

Hussain Nasser Lootah, director-general of Dubai Municipality, said building a green sustainable city needs accurate strategies based on data collected across the city, noting that electronic sensors are working daily to give planners real-time information to plan for the future.

Lootah said live sensors are collating data ranging from air quality and temperatures to sea conditions, noise and winds to create a proper liveable city.

“What does smart mean? It’s all about figures, data, analysis, benchmarking. Smart tools will help us achieve being a smart city. Happiness is the goal we are trying to reach,” Lootah said.

Mattar Al Tayer, chairman of the Roads and Transportation Authority (RTA), said the organisation has been thinking out of the box to make life more enjoyable for Dubai citizens.

New initiatives range from smart taxis and smart parking which alerts drivers of open spaces to an efficient metro and city buses that run on natural gas to lower air pollution.

“We need to be competent every day in all of our operations,” Al Tayer told the audience.

Panellist Steve Skadron, mayor of the City of Aspen, Colorado, US, said one of the things his city did was to set a goal to make the city’s power supply dependent on 100 per cent renewables.

“A smarty city, as I define it, is a quality of life equation as a result of innovation, appropriate infrastructure and good governance,” Skadron said.