Dubai’s comprehensive data policies setting the foundation for a Smart City


DUBAI – Three years ago, Dubai was among pioneering governments to announce an Open Data Law, which set the foundation for an all-inclusive data system that organises the collection and exchange of city information to build a competitive economy based on knowledge and innovation data management.

Inaugurated in October 2015, the Dubai Open Data Law allows the sharing of non-confidential data between government entities and other stakeholders to complete the legislative framework for turning Dubai into a Smart City.

Organisations at the helm of these changes are Smart Dubai and Dubai Data Establishment along with the Supreme Legislation Committee that helps formulate these laws.

As a second step, last February, the emirate announced Dubai Data Policies to classify, publish, share, use and reuse data. The project includes five policy categories — Data Classification, Data Protection, Intellectual Property Rights Protection, Data Use and Reuse and Technical Standards — to support the opening and sharing of data.

The aim of the new policies is to classify all data by 2021. Dubai data policies complement the Dubai Open Data Law and aim to safeguard data as a key component of digital wealth and maximise its economic potential.

Smart Dubai has also released the Dubai Pulse app, an online portal in which all open and shared data would be available to the public.

Data classified as “open” does not contain confidential information and can be shared with the public without access fees. This can include, data on traffic, health and education services, business activities such as trade licences and real estate and construction.

Shared data that include confidential information that could identify an individual would only be available to government departments and used for smart services and registration purposes. This would ease registration processes and paper transactions.

Sensitive data, the third type of data, would be provided with limited access to specific government departments.

Smart Dubai is aiming to maximise the economic effects of data with commercial data being made available to the public for a fee.

Ahmed bin Meshar al-Muhairi, secretary-general of the Supreme Legislation Committee, said the policies are important in that “it is a key pillar in the efforts to enhance capabilities related to the dissemination, transmission and exchange of data, which is considered to be at the core of intelligent transformation.”

Younus al-Nasser, CEO of the Dubai Data Establishment, said the policies would form the cornerstone of the smart cities.

“Furthermore, they help amplify the economic impact of data, which is expected to reach [$2.8 billion] per year as of 2021, the Dubai Data Economic Impact Report, prepared by international audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG, stated. The report revealed that by sharing 100% of government data, Dubai stands to generate an additional value of $6.6 billion, Nasser said.

Prashant K. Gulati, founder of the Assembly in Dubai, noted that “data is the new oil.”

“I cannot but emphasise the importance and role of good quality data in building an effective, smart, prosperous and responsive city. The need for good quality, qualified and definitive data is the basis of good quality planning and execution of projects and the development agenda,” Gulati said.

He explained that, traditionally, data availability has been fragmented, the quality of available data has been suspect, the access to data has been limited and, wherever available, multiple versions have questioned its veracity due to lack of acceptable standards of collection, storage and provenance of the data.

“With the definition of the Dubai Data Policies, Dubai is leading and setting the bar high, by creating a framework for collection, quality assurance, access control, effective use and comprehensive security of data of the residents of the city,” he said.

Gulati said Dubai Data Policies “allow for creative people to create for the city, using comprehensive and real datasets from the city, the best applications and plans for the city. It allows government to plan and execute to keep Dubai at the leading edge of development with real time data availability and data analysis. Businesses can create better solutions and serve their customers better with better quality, certified data from a reliable source.”

“These quality data are a gold mine for a series of great applications to generate economic benefit for their creators, as well as for the city. Smart City data are in demand to enhance the quality of life of residents, some of which people will pay for gladly,” he said.


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John Marwel


Within this program, we can deliver to governments and cities the possibility of implementing Smart City projects from idea (vision) to the final stage of implementation.

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