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Dubai Expo 2020: The Futuristic Smart City


Expo 2020 Dubai will be the first World Expo to take place in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA), and aims to celebrate human brilliance and achievement under the theme of "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future." From the glitzy "One Year to Go" launch extravaganza with Mariah Carey and Emirati singer Hussain Al Jassmi, to the logistical marvels being performed on the Expo site, the production values of Expo 2020 are high-end.

For smart city professionals and technology aficionados, the star attraction of Expo 2020 may be as ubiquitous and invisible as Mark Weiser could have wished for, the Expo 2020 "city" itself. The city will be made up of the hundreds of Expo buildings and country pavilions, and central structures such as the Al Wasl Plaza which, at 130 metres in diameter, is almost wide enough to fit two Airbus A380s across its centre, wing to wing.

Mohammed Alhashmi, CTO at Expo 2020 Dubai, elaborates, "As the largest event ever held in the Arab region, Expo 2020 Dubai will be one of the most connected places in the world, with a site-wide 5G network. About 20 times faster than 4G and with ultra-low latency, 5G technology will enable users to stream live 4K resolution any time, with virtually no lag."

This deployment of the latest in technology is driven by a desire to show how it can improve the lives of the billions of people who will be living in cities in the near future.

Cedrik Neike, a member of the managing board of Siemens AG and CEO smart infrastructure, sets the scene for transformation in all industries powered by the five megatrends of demographic change, urbanization, globalization, climate change and digitization. "New York was the blueprint of a global city, but it uses 5 billion liters of water per day. The average New Yorker uses 20 times more resources than somebody in Jakarta. Our cities need to be more sustainable by design."

Dr. Jonathan Reichental, professor, author, and CEO of Human Future, is one of the world's leading speakers and educators on urban innovation and the Internet of Things (IoT). He echoes Neike's sense of urgency around the need for smart cities to deliver a more sustainable future for humanity. "If we're going to greatly expand and sustain opportunities for a better quality of life for more people in our increasingly urban future, it's incumbent upon us to do many things differently. Specifically, it's becoming clear from progressive cities around the world that making technology innovation core to the civic toolkit can enable improved services and help to solve long-term challenges. Using technology and data to make our cities function smarter is no longer an option; it's an imperative."

Acting as a blueprint for the sustainable smart city of the future, Siemens is supplying Expo 2020 with MindSphere. This "smart city OS" is a bi-directional industrial operating system for automation and IoT integration that controls services linked to the physical infrastructure on the Expo 2020 site. Afzal Mohammed, the enthusiastic Head of MindSphere for Expo 2020 Dubai, explained "MindSphere leverages building information modeling (BIM) to generate 'digital twins' of buildings to intelligently match resources with precise moments of utilization. In an unconnected city up to 60% of irrigation water gets lost, but connected cities can save up to 80 litres of water per person per day. In a city of 5 million people, smart connectivity could save up to 300 lives per year."

As with the impressive physical legacy of Expo 2020, the data gathered by the event could be aggregated and used as a lasting digital legacy to lead the way in future smart city development across the world. The smart city is, truly, an idea whose time has come.

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