The global pandemic has not slowed down Abu Dhabi and Dubai’s digital innovation drive, experts noted during a live online forum hosted yesterday by the Embassy of Italy to the UAE as part of InnovItalyUAE initiative.
A number of the speakers who joined the Ambassador of Italy to the UAE, commented that a similar trend is happening in Italy, where the landscape of digitalization is still transforming at pace with Milan regarded among the most innovative cities in Europe.
InnovItalyUAE looks at opportunities to enhance bilateral cooperation in innovation between Italy and the UAE and is held in partnership with Khalifa University of Science and Technology and Dubai Future Foundation. Smart Cities and Sustainable Mobility: improving the quality of our lives, is the third forum in a series of six discussing a range of prevalent innovation topics.
His Excellency Nicola Lener, Ambassador of Italy to the UAE said, “As we heard today, the UAE is at the forefront of Smart City innovation and Masdar is an outstanding example of a smart city. Regarding Italy, in the last years, we have seen a significant impact on the development and resilience of Italian cities, increasingly oriented towards an ecological transition."
The webinar was moderated by Cesare Stefanini, Director, Healthcare Engineering and Innovation Center, Khalifa University and His Excellency was joined by 10 speakers during the webinar including:
Steven Griffiths, Senior Vice President, Research & Development and Professor of Practice, Khalifa University said, “Abu Dhabi and Dubai are succeeding in building smart, eco-friendly and sustainable cities and they are leading the way in the MENA region. We have 18 research centers and these allow us to undertake R&D and to work on a number of exciting projects. The UAE is home to prosperous communities and we can be at the forefront of research into Smart Cities.”
Nawaf AlMoosa, Director, Emirates ICT Innovation Center (EBTIC) added, “We help to solve problems in society, sustainability, education and healthcare and we have trained over 250 professionals in the private and public sector across the UAE. We have undertaken 37 projects with the UAE government and industry, and 16 UAE government collaborations. We already have a strong working relationship with Milan, especially for research, but we are looking forward to more innovation ties.”
Continuing the discussion from an Italian perspective, Antonio Puliafito, Director Smart Cities & Communities Lab., Italian CINI said, “The smart cities of the future will be a microcosm of interconnected objects. We have to remember that the phrase ‘Smart City’ means different things to different stakeholders. They can be complicated and frustrating to develop, but they are the cities of the future and it’s an exciting time. Collaboration is key between research, industry, government and all together we will succeed.”
Edoardo Croci, Coordinator, Green Economy Observatory and Smart City Observatory, Bocconi University said, “The Green Economy Observatory is devoted to sustainability and Smart Cities, we conduct in-depth studies, group work, dialogue and discussion as well as organizing workshops and seminars. The Smart Cities creative is to deliver and capture value meaning, not only financial performance, but also its wider social, economic and environmental impact.”
From Dubai, Patrick Noack, Executive Director Future Foresight and Imagination, Dubai Future Foundation added, “We are exploring a number of different technologies, such as a more efficient transport system that carries more people and goods and the growth of the electric vehicles market. Transport and mobility is incredibly important in Dubai, as is smart and dynamic growth, and as we take an integrated look to ensure that we support and foster innovation.”
Sergio Gambacorta, Head of Smart City, Innovability, Enel X said, “At Enel X, we address the decarbonization, electrification and digitalization. We are the World’s largest private player in renewables. We have a global footprint and our goal is to activate and execute innovative and sustainable solutions. In recent months, we have helped with a mobility map during the COVID-19 emergency across Italy, Spain and Brazil.”
Alia Al Mur, Director of Marketing & Communications, Smart Dubai added, “Our goal through the Happiness Agenda is to make Dubai the happiest city on earth. As we transform the future of Dubai through smart technology and innovation, we have prioritised happiness as our primary goal. We are focused on transforming the citizen experience, embracing emerging technologies and building a data ecosystem in order to achieve this.”
From Azienda Trasporti Milanesi (ATM), Paolo Marchetti, Director, Strategies, Innovation and Sustainability, said, “As we move further towards a digitalized system, 22 million digital tickets have been used since 2015 and 17 million contactless journeys have been made since 2018. By 2030, ATM’s entire fleet will comprise solely of electric buses."
Khaled AbdulRahman Al Awadhi, Director, Transportation Systems Dept., Dubai Road Transport Authority (RTA) commented, “Our goal is to provide safe and smooth transport for all. By 2030, 25 per cent of all journeys in Dubai will be driverless. Safe driving mobility has many benefits including people’s happiness, improving safety, reducing parking spaces, increasing efficiently of public transport, reducing pollution and reducing the mobility cost. We want to ensure introducing technology doesn’t introduce a divide and when designing the system in Dubai, we keep in mind integration. It’s not about just one individual system, but providing an overall seamless system that will make it easy and efficient for individuals to use.”
Concluding the webinar, Costanza Armanini, Post Doctoral Fellow, Mechanical Engineering, Khalifa University said, “During today’s session we have seen that the focus of Smart Cities is to improve the quality of life of citizens, which presents opportunities and challenges. Another important topic that was raised is the importance around continuing to educate everyone about sustainability.”