- The UAE government recently approved an ambitious action plan on AI and the digital economy. As a company operating in the sector, what is the significance of the government’s AI plan and what does it mean for SmartCitti?
“SmartCitti is on a mission to build a YOU-Centred Digital World with SMART experiences designed and delivered to make YOU happier and safer. Our service ecosystem in Dubai has fully functioning AI capabilities. So, we are exploring different opportunities to work with the government to support the recently announced action plan. The proposed changes to the Health, Education and Trade sectors need radical shifts in mindset, planning and resources. We strongly believe that the autonomy and agility of our service ecosystem makes us ideal partners for government agencies to collaborate with to deliver His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s ambitious plan.”
- The Government, through the Smart Dubai Office, has been accelerating the integration of AI into service delivery with a view to making Dubai the happiest city on earth. What is your company’s mission and how does it align with the government’s goal?
“From inception, SmartCitti’s goal has been to support the government in making Dubai the happiest city in the world. Our company’s mission is to spread happiness among Dubai’s residents and visitors, and one way to achieve this is by enabling people provide feedback through happiness meters placed in various parts of the city. This is something the government is already doing, and we are taking it digital through a smartphone app which makes the happiness meter available anywhere, anytime. We are confident that using geospatial technology, we will provide everyone in Dubai with the means to capture and share their emotions (happiness, displeasure, dissatisfaction, etc) about pretty much anything and everything. We have also built the first Dubai Happy Map which analyses and creates visual models of happiness data in real-time using AI.”
- How does SmartCitti define happiness and why is happiness so important?
“We understand that happiness is both objective and subjective. Our happiness is influenced by things happening around us as well as our personal attitudes to life. However, here at SmartCitti, we are not deeply concerned with defining happiness because we believe people know happiness intimately and recognize it when they feel it. What we want is to use smart technology to enhance and amplify happiness. We view happiness through a geospatial lens, in terms of place and time, so that through our app, people can capture when they are happy, what makes them happy and find more ways to be happy within their communities.”
- How is AI helping your company achieve its strategic mission?
“AI and Machine Learning (ML) are key components of our value proposition. SmartCitti’s service ecosystem is developed on a unique data simulated platform based on Geospatial AI Engine, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Behavioural analysis.
The real-time sensing, adapting, and automating capabilities of our platform are powered by AI and ML. When we collect behavioural and geospatial data from our users, we feed it into our AI-powered engine to create completely new data-driven experiences, products, and services. We also use AI and ML to analyse our operations and gain insights on how to improve efficiency and develop insightful roadmaps based on cost benefit analysis and prioritization frameworks.”
- What challenges have you faced so far in trying to achieve your mission?
“Our main challenge was how to make sense of the large volumes of happiness data we collect in real time. However, using AI and geospatial awareness technology, which aims to make sense of happiness based on where the happiness takes place and in relation to a number of dynamic variables resulting from behavioural analysis of our users, we have been able to overcome this challenge.”
- The UAE ranked 1st in the region and 21st globally on the 2019 global happiness index. Do you think the Government’s AI and happiness strategy contributed to this outcome?
“To a certain extent, yes. I think the government’s policy has definitely had a positive impact. However, judging by the other objectives of the UAE government’s programme, I think there is still room for improvement. These objectives include the promotion of wellbeing and happiness as a lifestyle in the community, the inclusion of happiness in the policies, programmes and services of all government bodies, and the development of benchmarks and tools to measure happiness.
Operationally, I believe the programme can be improved to achieve a degree of individualisation and personalisation at the user level to benefit everyone who lives or visits Dubai.”
- The UAE is pioneering the widespread use of AI and the world is eagerly watching and learning. How has your company benefited from the supportive business environment the UAE government has created for AI entrepreneurs?
“The UAE government is very keen to cooperate in terms of data management, control, and administration. The number of business events and exhibitions the government is supporting to create and establish the adequate business foundation is staggering. Many of these events are convened every year and consequently, many opportunities are available to companies like ours.”
- Though AI technology is very promising, some issues have been raised. For instance, a company was recently sued for racial bias in their facial recognition software. Some automated speech recognition software have also been flagged for racial bias. What is your company doing to ensure that these and other kinds of biases are not built into the AI-driven services you provide?
“Equality, inclusion and diversity are important building blocks of our AI engine, which means that our engine is not predisposed to racial or gender bias or any other discriminations. We have even implemented a scrutinization system that uses syntactic and semantic analysis to make sure nothing offensive is being published on our platform. We are striving to build a brand everyone can trust and as I mentioned earlier, inclusion, diversity and equality are important brand values.”
- The AI revolution in Dubai is happening before our eyes and SmartCitti is part of it. Tell us how you envision Dubai in 2030 and the role SmartCitti will play in making that vision a reality.
“Our company is very forward looking. In a way, we are futuristic. We like to say that SmartCitti is an AI-powered lifestyle brand aimed at the connected consumer and the connected consumer is the consumer of the future. By 2030, I believe the government would have achieved key milestones towards making Dubai the happiest city on the planet. By then, Dubai will be the best city for the connected consumer and SmartCitti will be on hand to deliver innovative services, driven by smart technologies, to make people happier and safer.