Q&A: Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority
With over 20 years of experience, Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority's Muammar Al Katheeri is a visionary with wide knowledge and experience in construction and project management. Following 10 years of experience with Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) and heading the Smart City project committee within the organisation, he has a thorough understanding and insights about smart city implementation.
Before his keynote presentation at the 3rd Annual Arab Future Cities Summit Dubai 2016 on 8 November, Al Katheeri discusses the importance of smart city and the integral role DSOA plays.
How does Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority support the nation’s smart city vision?
Serving as a Centre of Excellence, DSOA creates prototypes and develops scaled-up models (such as the Intel Ignition Lab) that aim to focus on:
- Ensuring a sustainable smart habitat and ecosystem
- Shaping a hub/destination where new technologies, ideas and cultures meet
- Creating an agile and ‘replicable’ Dubai approach/model for the development of smart cities
As a strategic partner to Smart Dubai, DSOA supports the nation by pilot testing projects on a small scale before implementing it as a Dubai Model (on a macro scale). These projects are looked as case studies. We review, implement, and analyse its pros and cons to identify how it would best benefit the nation.
Some of our projects that contribute to Dubai’s smart city initiative are: Efficient power consumption of lights, charging stations for electric vehicles, smart street lights, smart building technologies, smart lamp posts, LEED platinum certification, Internet of Things solutions, and many more.
The importance of integrating technology to implement smart city solutions has been repeatedly emphasized. What according to you needs to be taken into consideration when planning to build a smart city?
We believe that when planning to build a smart city it is vital to consider the following:
- Seamless experience
- Collaboration and integration
- Utilising the right technology
For this reason and being a leader in implementing new smart city solutions, DSOA is mandated to constantly collaborate with different public and private sector entities to ensure proper integration of technologies used. In line with this mandate, DSOA has become today a recognized proof of concepts destination for several smart city projects.
We have also supported major projects in Dubai that will eventually lead Dubai’s smart city transformation. Our most recent achievement in this sphere was the installation of the first Smart Street Solution in the Middle East region in collaboration with Huawei.
Through this collaboration, we have succeeded in installing a Smart Street Solution that incorporates a number of advanced features geared towards creating a friendly and secure environment for the community. These features include:
- Digital signage capability that allows real-time display of news and information
- An integrated Wi-Fi transmitter that offers internet access within a 300-meter radius.
- CCTV solution that ensures safety of businesses through intelligent surveillance.
- Environmental sensors that monitor outdoor temperature, humidity, and air quality.
- Integrated nature of solution means it is ‘future ready’ – or ready to integrate additional services and capabilities in a cost effective and timely manner.
- Centrally controlled Smart Street Solution that allows greater energy efficiency and management.
Dubai is the Middle East’s leading city for the adoption of smart cities initiatives. How do you think smart city initiatives are shaping up in Dubai?
Dubai’s smart city initiatives are currently on the right track and have shaped up well. Implementing smart solutions is an ongoing journey. Dubai has undergone this journey smoothly and organically – transitioning seamlessly from the ‘e-Government’ to ‘m-Government’ to ‘smart city’ to ‘happy living’ ecosystems. And the tangible outcomes of each phase are testimony to its sustained growth in this field.
In its report titled ‘Dubai - a new paradigm for smart cities’, KPMG described Dubai as one of the few cities in the world that has adopted a unique approach to evolve into a smart city. The report further stated that this approach is underpinned by three themes - communication, integration and cooperation. The report reiterated that this concerted approach would facilitate Dubai’s efforts in developing as the first truly global smart city.
As for DSOA’s part, we have launched in 2014 the AED1.3 billion Silicon Park - the first integrated smart city project to be built in Dubai Silicon Oasis spanning an area of 150,000 square meters. The project articulates the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and is a significant contributor to the Dubai Government’s strategic plan to transform Dubai into the smartest and happiest city in the world. The project offers residents, workers and visitors a modern lifestyle and related amenities associated with smart cities. The Dubai Government’s strategic directions on smart cities focus on six pillars: life, society, mobility, economy, governance and environment.
What would you believe are challenges for Dubai on its way to becoming a smart city?
Developing a smart city brings with it several associated challenges. Some of the core challenges at present include the need to ensure an open data platform, enabling policies and procedures, as well as a complete understanding of new laws. To overcome these challenges, we believe that successful collaboration and synergy between all stakeholders and sectors is a top priority. We also believe that the involvement of the private sector is vital in deploying new projects, and reiterate the importance of working collaboratively - rather than in silos.
What will you be presenting at the Arab Future Cities Summit Dubai 2016?
The 20-minute presentation by the DSOA team at the Arab Future Cities Summit 2016 will offer an overview on the initiatives and activities undertaken by DSOA in transforming Dubai into the smartest and happiest city in the world.
The presentation will also highlight DSOA’s recently announced 2021 strategy that consolidates earlier achievements and takes progressive steps towards realizing the vision and mission of the integrated hi-tech park through promoting technology-based industries, facilitating their work and boosting research and development efforts.
What will be the key takeaway for attendees from your presentation?
Attendees will enjoy this informative and educational session that sheds light on the transformation of the UAE's urban landscape and highlights how consumers can be more proactively engaged in developing a smart ecosystem. It will also explain how consumers have been empowered to lend a hand towards energy management and reducing the carbon footprint. In addition, the presentation will enhance the understanding of the attendees about Smart DSOA, the projects that have been implemented so far, the Centre of Excellence and much more.
Hear Muammar Al Katheeri speak at the 3rd Annual Arab Future Cities Summit Dubai 2016. The summit is scheduled to take place on 8-9 November 2016 at Palazzo Versace, Dubai. Follow the Summit on social media with the hashtag #AFCSDXB2016.
Read the August 2016 issue of Business Review Middle East magazine
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”