Mastercard, Smart Dubai and Expo 2020 Dubai have collaborated to launch its ‘Building the Cities of the Future’ report to better understand the pulse of UAE citizens and residents in shaping the future development of smart cities.
The virtual launch of the report was addressed by HE Younus Al Nasser, Assistant Director General, Smart Dubai and CEO, Dubai Data Establishment, and featured a panel discussion with industry experts from Mastercard, Smart Dubai and Expo 2020 Dubai.
The report explores how residents’ aspirations are driving the development of smart cities using new technologies, and outlines the trends and innovations paving the way for a brighter, more connected future for global cities.
Mastercard, together with its partners, is playing a leading role in bringing together the private and public sector to co-develop, deliver and scale solutions that make cities smarter. The whitepaper has identified cross-sector collaboration as a key factor in the future success of smart cities, along with the development of seamless, customer-centric experiences and solutions that advance growth and drive sustainability efforts.
“This study clearly highlights the importance and power of partnerships when it comes to developing smart cities and driving sustainable and inclusive growth. Consumers are clear about their expectations, and it is the responsibility of the private and public sectors to come together to build inclusive, dynamic cities,” said Elias Aad, Vice President, Head of Strategic Growth Business, MENA, Mastercard.
“At Mastercard, we are helping to drive this progress by embedding ourselves with private and public sector partners, supporting them in the development of digital payments economy blueprints and executing on it leveraging our advanced technologies, global payments network and expertise, advisory team and data driven insights. Throughout the pandemic, we have supported our partners and united communities, ensuring governments, large and small businesses, merchants and consumers stay safe, informed and connected,” continued Aad.
The survey found that four out of five (79%) residents in the UAE believe they’d be happy living in a smart city, aligning closely to Smart Dubai’s aspiration of making Dubai the happiest city on earth through smart technology and innovation. Smart Dubai is a member of Mastercard City Possible, a model for urban innovation in which a global network of cities, businesses, academics and communities work together to make cities more inclusive and sustainable.
The top three resident expectations of a smart city were environmentally friendly business practices, paperless government services, and fast, affordable, city-wide internet connectivity. The majority (67%) of respondents shared that they expect their smartphones to be the primary channel to access city services. Respondents cited ultra-fast mobile connections, driverless taxis, and virtual medical diagnoses from AI doctors as the most exciting innovations in the cities of the future.
Sustainability First in the City of the Future
Sustainability emerged as a key aspiration for smart cities across all age groups. The study found that an overwhelming segment (53%) of UAE respondents consider living in a sustainable city as the most exciting innovation in future smart cities, and this increases with respondents’ age.
The UAE is committed to a sustainable future, having included a focus on sustainable development as part of its Vision 2021. In January 2020, Mastercard launched the Priceless Planet Coalition, which aims to fight climate change through the restoration of 100 million trees over five years. In October 2020, Expo 2020 Dubai joined the Coalition as a strategic partner as part of its commitment to sustainability and intent to host one of the most sustainable World Expos in history.
Iman Alomrani, Deputy Chief Technology Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “World Expos have influenced the development of cities for 170 years through iconic structures and advances in technology and engineering. Expo 2020 will break new boundaries, working with innovative partners such as Mastercard to play an instrumental role in structuring future smart cities through numerous initiatives and activations – environmental, technological and economical – that will live on well after the event.
“Sustainability is integrated throughout Expo 2020 Dubai, creating meaningful impact and inspiring the global community to take action towards a cleaner, safer, healthier future. It is extremely encouraging that people consider sustainable practices as vital to their cities of the future.”
Covid-19: An Accelerator
Over half (54%) of respondents expect Covid-19 to accelerate the development of smart cities, and many respondents also report that they expect habits adopted during the pandemic to change their behaviour permanently. The top three trends expected to continue are working from home (27%), less cash and the preference of card, contactless and electronic payments (21%) and an increase in online shopping with reduced shopping trips to malls (15%).
Leading the Way for Cities of the Future
Dubai has been ranked the best smart centre in the Arab world for development of creativity, innovation and delivery of new technology, according to the second edition of the Smart Centre Index (SCI).
Dubai has emerged as one of the early adopters of innovation to create an interconnected, intelligent city with digital technology embedded across its functions. Led by Smart Dubai, the city has transformed itself into a model smart city through the Smart Dubai 2021 strategy, revolutionizing the way government services are delivered to its people by launching over 100 smart initiatives and 1000 smart services over three years and recording over 3% of an increase in happiness levels across the city.
“Over the past few years, we have raised Dubai’s profile as a smart city that meets the needs of its citizens. The quest to continue learning, knowledge contributions and collaborations is key to the development of tomorrow’s smart cities, and as a member of Mastercard’s City Possible network, we are actively engaged in sharing our experiences and taking on board global best practices,” said Meera Al Shaikh, International Relations and Partnerships Section Manager, Smart Dubai.