Smart Dubai Discovers the Potential of 2 New Use Cases as Part of the Emirate’s Ongoing Fight Against COVID-19

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  • Part of the Data Science Lab initiative, the new use cases seek to harness the power of data and data science to forecast and contain the threats of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • H.E. Younus Al Nasser: The new use cases allow us to benefit from the Data Science Lab to support our wise leadership’s efforts to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus.
His Excellency Younus Al Nasser, Assistant Director General of Smart Dubai and CEO of the Dubai Data Establishment

Dubai: In addition to the already live ‘Smart Control Dashboard COVID-19’, Smart Dubai is working on two new use cases as part of its flagship Data Science Lab initiative. Launched by Smart Dubai to develop data science skills in the emirate, the Data Science Lab explores use cases to drive growth of the city’s data ecosystem. 

The two use cases currently underway seek to harness the power of data and data science to forecast and thereby help contain the threat of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Dr Amer Ahmad Sharif, Head of Dubai’s COVID-19 Command and Control Centre, said: “Our method, at the Centre, relies first and foremost on accurate data. This was made possible through the use of the ‘Smart Control Dashboard COVID-19’ – one of the key pillars supporting the decision-making process across the Emirate of Dubai. The Dashboard was designed to incorporate databases and real-time developments about the spread of the virus, weighing them against the Dubai healthcare system’s condition and situation.”

For his part, His Excellency Younus Al Nasser, Assistant Director General of Smart Dubai and CEO of the Dubai Data Establishment, asserted: “Data is at the core of all smart-city plans. It acts as the fuel powering advanced technologies from Artificial Intelligence to Blockchain and the Internet of Things. Smart Dubai is on a mission to build a world-leading smart city right here in Dubai, and a key element in our blueprint for this city of the future is a robust data infrastructure and a collection of ambitious data initiatives.”

“The Data Science Lab is one such notable initiative. It acts as a production line for use cases, identifying real-world problems, and generating innovative data-science-based solutions to overcome them and – in the process – bring about economic and social benefits,” H.E. added. “Our Data Science Team has harnessed the potential of data mining and data analytics to face different challenges and meet a variety of goals. The team applied their know-how and expertise to come up with a total of three use cases that allow us to use our Data Science Lab to support our wise leadership in its efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the wellbeing and happiness of Dubai’s citizens, residents and visitors.”

The first of the three use cases has already been launched in partnership with Dubai’s COVID-19 Command and Control Centre; the Smart Control Dashboard COVID-19 aims to monitor and predict the spread of the novel coronavirus, process and analyze data, and provide perceptions and predictions on COVID-19 developments. The dashboard relies on a well-known epidemiology equation known as SEIR (Susceptible Exposed Infected Resistant) to forecast the number of potential cases. 

The Data Science Team at Smart Dubai expanded on this model, in order to take into account specific factors of COVID-19, such as expected asymptomatic patients, government intervention on physical distancing and testing, and the incubation period of the virus, among other factors. The Smart Control Dashboard COVID-19 analyzes various data points, such as information on total number of infections by type (asymptomatic, mildly symptomatic, moderately symptomatic, and severely symptomatic), cumulative number of infections, recoveries, and critical cases across Dubai, as well as projected number of potential cases per category.

The second use case, currently still being tested, considers the population density of areas in Dubai, as well as areas that usually attract large crowds, to generate forecasts on the possible growth in COVID-19 cases in different areas in Dubai. Eventually, the areas at risk of becoming hotspots can be identified in advance. Once fully operational, the results will be added to the already live Smart Control Dashboard COVID-19.

The third use case, once fully studied and ready to be launched, will help estimate the potential growth or decline of COVID-19 cases in Dubai based on simulated interaction and mobility of people across different venues in the emirate (e.g. workplaces, schools, shopping malls, etc.). The simulation is testing various likely scenarios, such as the reopening of schools, resuming public transportation services with fewer or no restrictions, and operating restaurants at full capacity, among many others. The system then calculates the possible rise or drop in COVID-19 cases in each scenario, or any combination of these scenarios.

The third use case will leverage data available on Smart Dubai’s Dubai Pulse data platform, which includes data collected from various Dubai Government entities. This includes the distribution of buildings around the city, the population in each community, the location of retail and consumer goods stores, and frequency of using public transportation, to name a few. The results from these simulations will allow the emirate’s leadership to implement calculated and appropriate precautionary measures to ensure minimal or no infections. The simulation can also be extended to forecast possible waves of different pandemics (not only COVID-19).

The aforementioned use cases harness novel approaches coming from different scientific disciplines to address unprecedented challenges to eventually make wise and timely decisions. Smart Dubai plans to further expand these use cases to serve different possible purposes, such as urban planning. Eventually, this sets the stage for creating a data science ecosystem in the city and incentivizes joint projects between entities.

Smart Dubai and the Dubai Data Establishment seek to ensure the emirate takes full advantage of data science and benefits from the city’s data. To this end, they sought to create a citywide data strategy, spearhead the city’s smart transformation, and lead a new approach in data management for cities. Dubai’s data journey started with the Dubai Data Law in 2015, which made Dubai’s the first government to mandate the sharing, use, and reuse of the government’s data. And today, it is leading the world’s most ambitious and comprehensive data initiative.

Smart Dubai has launched a full bundle of initiatives that center around data, including the Data Science Lab; Data Champions; Data First, The City’s Data Challenge; Dubai Pulse; Dubai Data Private Sector Engagement Strategy and Policy; Data Decentralization; and most recently, ‘Dubai Registers.’