Artificial Intelligence has cemented itself as a key enabler technology in the future of smart cities. But its growth in the UAE and the region will be dependent on an ecosystem that welcomes several other technologies alongside it.
Speaking at the Artelligence 2021 forum, Dr Saeed Al Dhaheri, member of the Global Future Council on Virtual and Augmented Reality, World Economic Forum, shared how the UAE is working towards a future that is built on innovation.
“AI is going to play a big role in social services, such as healthcare, education, transportation, public safety and consumer behaviour,” he said. “We use AI without even being aware of it.”
Already, he said that there are several cases of AI being successfully used in various industries, including healthcare.
“Medical image identification is using AI to check if patients are suffering from cancer. AI today has achieved an accuracy of 99 per cent in correctly diagnosing women with breast cancer, better than any other screening methods. AI will also bring inclusion in terms of areas where there is a shortage of medical staff,” Al Dhaheri said.
In transportation, AI has been known to reduce road congestions, traffic accidents, air pollution through autonomous cars, and improve road safety, he added.
“Already today, you have cars with safe lane-changing features that alert you if you are not paying attention, and Google Maps are giving you directions on how to best navigate to your destination," he said.
Going forward, Al Dhaheri said the focus will be on establishing AI as an enabler technology alongside innovations such as VR, IoT, AR, blockchain, big data, drones and 3D printing. He also highlighted the importance of having a good data strategy and the availability of talent.
“Data is now the new oil for the digital economy. Without good quality, high volume data, all this AI and machine learning that you hear about today is not going to be feasible. We are very lucky to be in a city like Dubai that has already launched a very comprehensive data strategy and data protection laws. Also, without the right talent, you cannot get anything meaningful from all these data projects," Al Dhaheri said.
Rahul Misra, vice-president of Applications Sales, Lower Gulf & South Africa, Oracle, also discussed the importance of predictive analytics, and creating an environment where data is ethically sourced to develop solutions.
“We find ourselves in a world where data is readily available in silos, but we need to make use of it and leverage it to make informed decisions,” Misra said.
He added that technology shifts are driving digital disruptions. “According to recent reports, 84 per cent of companies have said that AI is key to gaining a competitive advantage. However, the biggest challenge facing organisations today is how to outpace change."
"Around 37 per cent of firms have said that they spend more time collecting data than analysing it; while 59 per cent said that they have difficulty in extracting data from legacy systems," he said.
Companies using AI have firmly put themselves on the path to solving several key challenges today, he added. These include making real-time decisions, optimising resources, improving their customer experiences, and creating new models for revenue.