Emirates News Agency – Smart Dubai webinar underlines need to make cities more agile, responsive to challenges

DUBAI, 5th August, 2020 (WAM) — Smart Dubai organised a Smart Cities Global Network, SCGN, Webinar today to discuss the resilience of cities in the COVID-19 world and to highlight the need to make our cities more agile and responsive to similar challenges in the future.

Discussions shed light on how cities have accelerated the adoption of smart-city technology to battle the ongoing pandemic, exploring the practices undertaken to efficiently curb the spread of the disease, while maintaining business continuity and minimising interruptions and impact on economic activities.

The event consisted of a high-profile panel discussion bringing Younus Al Nasser, Smart Dubai’s Assistant Director-General and CEO of the Dubai Data Establishment, together with John Cavanagh, Deputy Consul-General for Dubai and Trade Commissioner at the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, Austrade, and Tan Chee Hau, Director, Smart Nation and Digital Government Office at the Prime Minister’s Office – Singapore. The panel was moderated by Smart Dubai’s Chief Digital Director Zeina ElKaissi and was titled “Lessons Learned from COVID-19: City Resilience in an Unpredictable World”.

“The need for cities to accelerate their digital transformation has today become more crucial than ever,” Al Nasser said. “Dubai has been pursuing a digital transformation strategy long before the pandemic, since His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai, launched the E-Government initiative in 2000. Twenty years later, under the threat of a global pandemic, this strategy has demonstrated its utility at a time it was needed most.”

“The success of our smart-city strategies in the face of this global crisis offers an additional incentive for us to continue along this path, keep promoting innovation and a future outlook, and draw new and continuously improved plans for the city’s resilience – one that protects and enhances people’s lifestyle and happiness in the emirate, which is our ultimate goal here at Smart Dubai,” he asserted.

“Smart Dubai launched the Smart Cities Global Network to be the largest international network of smart-city stakeholders and offer a platform that brings together international experts and decision-makers to explore key elements in building a smart city,” he explained.

Cavanagh highlighted Australia’s response to the crisis, as one of the world’s first countries to ease COVID-19 restrictions back in early May, after successfully slowing down the spread of the virus. He drew attention to the many lessons in resiliency that Australia learned from this first round of the battle, as the world braces for a possible second wave while economies reopen after months of lockdown.

Hau explained how Singapore’s advanced digital infrastructure helped the city-state prepare for a comprehensive and efficient response to the outbreak, being among the world’s first nations to deploy tech on the ground to fight COVID-19. While tech solutions were largely welcomed and encouraged around the world, they also sparked a debate about data privacy, he noted.

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