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Posted on: Wednesday 27 January, 2016 3:42 pm
GCC Governments Urged to Hire Chief Smart City Officers to Guide Urban Development

GCC governments must hire Chief Smart City Officers to ensure the long-term delivery of Smart Cities, one of the world’s leading digital experts challenged today.


As Internet of Things technology decreases in cost and increases in capability, GCC cities such as Dubai and Masdar City in the UAE, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s four Economic Cities, and Lusail City in Qatar are using technology to enhance the citizen experience with urban infrastructure, transportation, and safety and security.


Worldwide, Smart Cities present a market opportunity of USD 1.6 trillion by 2020, according to Frost & Sullivan, with a recent report by Smart Dubai predicting the city’s value at stake could reach nearly USD 5 billion by 2020.


However, Dr Chakib Bouhdary, Digital Transformation Officer at SAP, a technology leader in Smart Cities, argued that without a senior government official leading Smart City efforts, they will not reach their full potential.


“Chief Smart City Officers can make governments more efficient and responsive to citizen demands by breaking down agency silos, forging public-private partnerships, and providing the digital tools to manage population growth, citizen services, and climate resiliency,” added Dr Chakib Bouhdary.


Leading global Smart Cities have hired Chief Information Officers, Chief Innovation Officers, or Chief Technology Officers to guide efforts, including Barcelona, Spain; Boston, United States; and Cape Town, South Africa.


To further drive city-wide and nationwide digitization, Dr Chakib Bouhdary also called on governments, educational institutions, and the private sector to partner on supporting local talent in learning technology skills.


While in Dubai, Dr Chakib Bouhdary attended the graduation ceremony of more than a dozen local youth who completed a rigorous training program by SAP’s Training and Development Institute. 


As part of the Institute’s Young Professionals Program, these graduates were trained in business analytics and predictive analytics skills, which will be vital for organizations in the Smart City sector to drive their digitization efforts; they are certified as SAP Associate Consultants now. 


The Young Professionals Program has trained more than 760 young university graduates across the Middle East and North Africa since 2013, with more than 90 percent being placed into employment.


“SAP’s Young Professionals Program provides recent graduates with the skills and hands-on experience to succeed in the fast-paced technology and public sector fields. Business and predictive analytics skills will be key for expanding my career horizons, especially as Dubai Smart City continues to develop,” said Alia Albanna, an Emirati, who graduated from Zayed University and mastered in the Young Professionals Program. She is now working as a graduate trainee at Emirates Airlines.


Dr Chakib Bouhdary also praised Dubai as one of the region’s leading Smart Cities, with the Smart Dubai government agency aiming for Dubai to become the world’s smartest city by 2017.


“Dubai’s Smart City success is thanks to of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s visionary leadership, and Smart Dubai’s drive for innovation with clear and achievable goals,” concluded Dr Chakib Bouhdary.


Supporting government innovation, SAP’s Future Cities platform co-innovates with more than 4,500 governments worldwide, using the power of the SAP HANA real-time analytics platform for services such as government-wide dashboards of citizen services, smart traffic management, and smart tourism mobile apps.

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