Dubai Government has 24 blockchain use cases in the last three years and is on target to achieve its objective of digitising the journeys of the residents by 2021.
Digital transformation is not a new concept to Dubai. The city’s smart transformation journey began in 1999 with the establishment of the e-Government.
The digital transformation strategies have been led by the government and public sectors unlike in other parts of the world where the private sector is ahead and, at the same time, the public sector sets the vision and drives innovation and this helps to rally the private sectors.
Wesam Lootah, Chief Executive Officer of the Smart Dubai Government Establishment, the technology arm of Smart Dubai office, the government entity entrusted with Dubai’s city-wide digital smart transformation, told TechRadar Middle East that the blockchain strategy was launched in October 2016.
“Right now, we have use cases in finance, education, real estate, tourism, commerce, health, transport and security. Blockchain plays a significant role in eliminating the use of paper and move from manual to a fully-digitised transaction,” he said.
“Government, private and public sectors are leveraging this technology to create seamless transactions. By 2021, the Dubai Government will achieve its paperless strategy. We are in the early days and we will continue to leverage the emerging technologies. Our focus is not on the technologies, but on the impact these technologies can create,” he said.
Dr. Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, Director General of Smart Dubai, said that Dubai’s ambition goes beyond simply bringing advanced technologies and automating tasks.
“The emirate is looking to establish itself as a full-fledged smart city of the future, build a robust, integrated and interconnected ecosystem where advanced technologies are utilised to serve the people and ensure their well-being,” she said.
A key goal for Dubai’s smart transformation is the execution of the Dubai Paperless Strategy by 2021. The strategy aims to 100% digitise all government services, and offer these services to the residents and visitors of Dubai via one mobile platform.
Setting a benchmark
In the next three to four years, Jyoti Lalchandani, Vice-President and Regional Managing Director of research firm International Data Corporation Middle East, Turkey and Africa, said that blockchain will be embedded into the compute and that will open a significant amount of opportunities.
“The blockchain technology will be matured when you have high volume and low-value transactions. Currently, a lot of the blockchain investments happen in low volume and high-value transactions,” he said.
Bin Bishr said that Smart Dubai has launched blockchain-as-a-service that allows government entities to implement use cases without investing in individual platforms.
Moreover, Lootah said that a global blockchain exhibition will be launched during Expo 2020 and a permanent blockchain campus.
Currently, blockchain technology has no standard or protocol globally but he said that Dubai has announced its blockchain policy in November last year that includes the governance and framework that helps to achieve the standard and it was developed in collaboration with all the private and public entities working on blockchain applications using the best benchmarks.
He added that Smart Dubai has implemented the Hyper-Ledger and Ethereum technologies on its platform.
“We focused on the challenges of the implementations. Right now, there is no standard for blockchain technology and no operating procedures globally and unfortunately, the pitfalls are many. If we don’t coordinate properly, there would be duplications of work and in cases, the network may not be able to talk to each other,” he said.