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University students contribute to Dubai’s ‘smart city’ initiative


Talented youth at Canadian University of Dubai develop solutions to tackle the emirate’s latest ambition.

December 18, 2013 3:43 by

Dubai’s ‘smart city’ initiative – a scheme announced in October to transform the emirate into a smart city – has been described by experts as a journey and not a destination. It will require collaborative thought, new ideas and a culture of innovation.

Since the announcement, students at the Canadian University of Dubai have been motivated to come up with ways to improve the city through the use and adoption of technology.

A bike-riding reward system, sustainable buildings and a mobile app that alerts you when you arrive at your Metro stop are some of the ideas being tackled by the students.

Zain Javaid, 18, has developed an idea for a smartphone application called Active Metro, which alerts passengers on Dubai Metro when the train is approaching their stop. He explains that he’s missed his stop a few times (due to distractions), which inspired him to find a simple solution for the problem.

“I take the Metro always and when you’re with your friends or when you are reading or listening to music, you don’t really pay attention to your journey,” he says. “You buy your e-ticket, which is scanned on the way into the Metro. The scanner sends the information about your journey to the app and it alerts you as you reach your stop. It’s a simple idea, but I think people will find it useful.”

Taking a different technological tack are two architecture students, Khadeeja Tul Kubra and Naureen Zulfiquar, who have designed a sustainable data centre.

“Everything in a smart city is linked to a data centre. Without the data centre, you cannot have a smart city,” says Tul Kubra, who adds that the challenge they face is that servers require a lot of electricity, because they need to be air conditioned and dehumidified.

“The design concept is yin and yang. It illustrates the interdependency of the data centre and the smart city, and the curved shape allows more sunlight to hit the building, which is great for solar panels. We left a gap between the two halves of the symbol to encourage more wind-flow to naturally cool the building,” says Zulfiquar, adding that the materials used also contribute to the sustainability of the building.

“We have used potassium silicate paints and both standard black and white solar panels. These not only help a building’s sustainability, but also its aesthetics,” she adds.

Earlier this week, Rabih Dabboussi, managing director at Cisco UAE, said that Dubai “is already a smart city”, describing its broadband infrastructure, 4G network and readiness as being the best in the Mena region.

He added that the “robust” plan is a journey aligned with multiple transitions through the city and it is expected to attract $15 billion in investments, as well as $7.2bn towards the World Expo 2020.

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