Dubai: Smart cities powered by futuristic technology will change the way people go about their daily lives, an expert predicted during a lecture in Dubai on Thursday.
Wim Elfrink, executive vice-president of industry solutions and chief globalisation officer at Cisco Systems — a global IT firm — said people’s lives will be affected once the countries in which they live embrace technology as essential infrastructure and launch the transformation into smart cities.
“Technology is a key enabler for solutions and is so essential for our future and for our children’s future too. Developed countries need to rethink about their purpose and their cities because technology is the basis of the future,” said Elfrink.
The Internet of Everything: Smart Cities and Beyond lecture was hosted by The Mohammad Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG), a Dubai-based research and teaching institution that focuses on public policy in the Arab world.
Elfrink discussed ways ‘The Internet of Everything’ is connecting people and things and how smart cities tap into that concept.
Elfrink spoke about the future economic, environmental and social challenges facing the 21st century such as the growth in population in many countries like in the case of the UAE, where the population is expected to be 15.4 million, a 411 per cent increase from 2000. He said that as cities face these massive challenges, the critical enabler is technology.
“We always need to look at technology as a new essential infrastructure and countries should always think about a master Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plan. When building a city you have to encompass an ICT chapter and a lot of countries around the world don’t have an ICT chapter,” Elfrink added.
Among figures that he presented in the lecture were those related to the number of devices currently connected to the internet and the volume of data being generated. Elfrink mentioned that there are 30 billion devices currently connected to the internet.
“All these devices are connected to the internet and are all generating data. With this unprecedented connectivity to the internet, 90 per cent of data that exists today was created in the last two years; more new data has been generated in 2012 than the last 5,000 years. With this huge expansion in connectivity, we are soon to face a rise in innovation, and stream of new industries, leading to competition between cities. These new modern cities will only be sustainable if they thrive amidst these developments.”
Elfrink said that the internet could generate an estimated $6.9 billion (Dh25.33 billion) of value to public sectors like transport, energy, education, construction and others and also highlighted the role of the internet which plays a role in sustainable development, reduction of cost, creating jobs and establishing new businesses on all sectors.
Before his lecture, Dr Bassem Younus, director for business development at MBRSG, outlined the achievements that Dubai and the UAE have made in the field of technology and highlighted the vision of the region’s leaders of giving priority to technology.
He also noted that “Dubai’s goal is not to only be a smart city, but to be the smartest city.”