Physical and virtual connectivity are crucial components of today’s competitiveness and economic growth. By facilitating the movement of people, goods, and information, cities have the ability to increase access to employment, health, education, and public services, thus enabling economic development and social change. In fact, transport is one of the core factors of urban planning, and it’s becoming even more important as populations grow and environmental concerns strengthen.
Harnessing the power of technology.
Digitization is increasing the need to move people and goods around the planet quickly and cost-effectively, and with 70 percent of the global population expected to live in urban areas by 2050, it’s important that cities deploy smart digital solutions to meet these growing demands. Today, passengers are able to view their transportation options, evaluate their choices, and make informed decisions (or even advocate for change). Thankfully, the GCC has several core advantages in this area, including its economic power and population growth, with the UAE leading the way in transforming traditional transportation services.
Since 2003, the Dubai Government has saved $1.17bn through shared smart services and Abu Dhabi is rapidly deploying new digital technologies which are beginning to change the transportation industry as we know it. These impressive developments are influencing how other cities around the world view their own smart city initiatives, and they are realizing that transport must go beyond being an enabler of the digital economy to being a digital disrupter that helps build a better world.
As global economies grow, there is also growing pressure on the transportation industry to become sustainable and environmentally-friendly. The UAE has been working with leading international organizations to design and implement new mobility services that will help address these challenges, and lead to a greener, safer, more inclusive, and efficient transport for all. Here are some of the most noteworthy projects to come out of the country:
- Hyperloop – The pending 2020 buzz-worthy launch of the near-supersonic train between Abu Dhabi and Dubai is, one of the country’s most notable transportation initiatives. The Hyperloop will be able to transport passengers at speeds of up to 1220kph by removing the friction between the vehicle and rails using magnetic levitation and simulating the scenery outside using high-tech LED screens. This exciting project will replicate the experience and speed of an aircraft by putting it on the ground, and possibly completely change the way we travel in the future!
- Sustainability – As one of the largest energy users and emitters of greenhouse gases, transport is at the heart of the climate change solution. Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai and working towards reducing carbon emissions in their public transport networks – 50% of Dubai Taxi Corporation’s fleet will consist of eco-friendly hybrid cabs by 2021, Cyacle is leading the way when it comes to promoting carbon-neutral public bicycle sharing in Abu Dhabi, and UAE-born Careem is in partnership with Next to bring driverless, battery-operated transportation solutions to the region within the next decade. And this is just the beginning!
- Drone Taxi Service – Dubai was serious when it said it was going to become the first city in the world to offer a flying taxi service! In September 2017, Volocopter’s first test flight was conducted which proved promising to gradually launch the flying car technology in the next 5 years. Dubai is also pinned to be the testing ground for UberAir (a collaboration between the app-based taxi company and NASA).
- Autonomous Transport – Back in 2016, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum declared his vision for 25% of all transport in Dubai to be autonomous by 2030. His aim is to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, alleviate congestion in the city, prevent crashes and fatal accidents, and pioneer the way forward for more eco-friendly electric transportation options. Currently, Dubai has introduced 50 Tesla vehicles to the state-owned taxi service (which are semi-autonomous), been trialing an autonomous 10-seater short distance bus called the EZ10, and are investigating driverless pods with Careem.
The UAE’s is undoubtedly one of the more impressive countries when it comes to innovation and IT transformation, and it’s on its way to becoming a global leader. However, we can’t help but look forward to a time when people from around the world will turn to the region for help and inspiration when it comes to developing their own complex transport transformation projects. In the meantime, we will continue innovating and pushing technology to its limit!
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