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Dubai can continue to ‘measure’ its Smart City success with ‘happiness meter’

Mr. Wesam Lootah, CEO, Smart Dubai Government Establishment has outlined some of the key initiatives that Smart Dubai have launched in its attempts to make Dubai the happiest city in the world.

Mr. Lootah was speaking at the 7th annual Telecom Review Summit where he gave a brilliant insight into Smart Dubai’s on-going vision for the city in an informative, engaging and fascinating presentation. He highlighted the importance of the introduction of a ‘happiness meter’ which he said was giving everyone in the region a voice to shape the city they want to live in. The happiness meter subsequently provides key decision makers, city leaders and director generals with critical information about what impact their services are having on residents - and gives them feedback on whether or not the strategies they’ve executed are the correct ones for the city.

Speaking at the Telecom Review Summit, Mr Lootah said: “My presentation today is organized around a number of key principles, one of these principles is that people’s voice counts. Your voice counts and is hugely important to us. So let me ask you a question, how many of you like taking surveys?” Mr. Lootah asked the crowd. Only one person raised their hand. ”Your response, or lack of one I should say is what I expected, if the survey took two seconds I’m sure you all would interact and that’s why we’ve launched the happiness meter.”

Mr. Lootah said the information provided by the happiness meter ensured that residents all over the city could let the government know what areas to improve on – and also helped them learn from their mistakes moving forward.

He said: “The device lets the government know what citizens are thinking. This feedback is imperative for the government because it doesn’t always get things right, just like anywhere in the world, and it can then learn from mistakes. The happiness meter enables everybody in the city to let the government know what it can improve on. It’s a very simple interface. It has been deployed across all our channels: ranging from service centres, mobile phone applications, and on government websites.

“We have spent the last eighteen months collecting over four million votes and now this has been deployed in thirty-eight government entities. What’s the difference between this and a survey you might ask? Surveys are good, and they go deep and give you a large volume of information. However, it may take 3-6 months to conduct and compile a survey. The difference here is that you get real-time information. City leaders and city managers can actually judge in real time if changes in their services are having the right impact.”

Mr. Lootah declared that it wouldn’t matter if Smart Dubai gave people a voice if they then decided to ignore the feedback they were given in relation to the services they were providing.

“Obviously giving people a voice is important, but it wouldn’t matter if we weren’t listening to them. We have to listen and we want to listen – and that’s why we have created the happiness meter dashboard. His highness, city leaders and all director generals in the government have access to this dashboard, as it allows them to get information to view the happiness trending around the city.”

In addition to this, he said Smart Dubai would be creating additional channels in its roadmap for 2017 for residents to further express their happiness.

“We took it one step further with city leaders, key decision makers and government personnel by enabling access to the happiness meter dashboard on their mobile phones. So it’s with them 24/7, all around the clock – so they can get access to the information regarding the happiness of the services they’re providing to their constituents. It doesn’t matter whether they are in the office, or even if they are taking a flight - they can access this information at any time. The happiness meter is just one of the tools we are providing to give everyone a voice and to let people guide our transformation. We have a roadmap for 2017 – which will provide additional channels for people to express their happiness. Happiness is very important to us and we now have a very good way of measuring it across the city in our quest to make Dubai the happiest city in the world.”