Smart Dubai & Dubai Economy announce new data initiative for retail

RetailME Bureau

Smart Dubai and the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED – Dubai Economy) have announced a joint new data initiative for the retail sector. This is part of the Private Sector Data Engagement Strategy, which was designed to foster stronger collaboration between the public and private sectors on data.

The Private Sector Data Engagement Strategy operates along four strategic themes – including transparent governance and regulations, operational excellence, commercialisation and people and engagement.

The new initiative will see anonymised and aggregated datasets examined to understand catchment area (the zone surrounding retailers or malls from which they can draw customers), visitor flow and spending trends in one of Dubai’s largest malls.

The project seeks to enhance the resilience of the retail sector by developing an understanding of the demographics and various behaviours, such as spending or visiting patterns. It will also provide insights into city-wide data to inform economic policy decision-making.

Smart Dubai is partnering with three government, semi-governmental and private sectors to implement the project including Dubai Department of Economic Development, Majid Al Futtaim – with whom Smart Dubai has an MoU to Enhance Data and Analytics Capabilities since December 2017 – and du. The new initiative will be overseen by a multi-stakeholder steering committee, co-chaired by DED director general, Sami Al Qamzi and director general for Smart Dubai, Dr Aisha Bin Bishr.

“Data is the foundation of smart cities; we’ve said this before on numerous occasions, and we reiterate it as we add yet another milestone on Dubai’s journey to harness the power of data and drive its plans to become the smartest and happiest city in the world,” said Bin Bishr. “The initiative we are launching is a pragmatic step to materialise the objectives of the Private Sector Data Engagement Strategy, which brings the public and private sectors together to collaborate on data. Our goal is to enable the seamless exchange and use of data to establish a robust data ecosystem and create economic and social value.”

“Our focus on the retail sector stems from the immense contribution it makes to Dubai’s economy,” she added. “Indeed, wholesale and retail were by far the emirate’s largest sector in 2018, according to figures by the Dubai Statistics Centre. It accounted for 26.4% of GDP – more than double the contribution of the second sector in line, transportation and storage, which accounted for just 12.3%.”

On behalf of Majid Al Futtaim, Joe Abi Akl, acting chief corporate development officer at Majid Al Futtaim – Holding, observed, “In today’s knowledge economy, it’s becoming more and more relevant for the private and public sectors to share open and anonymised data for the greater good of Dubai, its economy and its people. Given the retail sectors’ contribution to the city’s GDP, we can facilitate further economic growth through this initiative, while also improving infrastructure planning and providing consumers with more tailored and personalised experiences. Cities all over the world can take inspiration from this initiative and we are proud to partner with Smart Dubai to break new ground for the data industry.”

The innovative data-sharing initiative will be managed in accordance with international standards and best practices for safe, seamless and fair exchange of data. The ultimate goal is to strike a balance between encouraging exchange and extraction of the value of data, on one hand, and security, privacy, data protection on the other.

Both the public and private sectors stand to draw great benefits from the new project. Private companies can expect a deeper understanding of population dynamics and spend potential in catchment areas, paving the way for more informed decisions, tailored marketing campaigns and targeted offering. Public entities can use sales data to make informed, hyper-responsive and targeted decisions on economic policy and strategic plans.

“Data sharing with the private sector plays a pivotal role in improving policy reforms that are aimed at enabling the government to remain agile in embracing new opportunities for economic growth. For Dubai, it is very important to understand the changes in performance of the emirate’s main sectors and analyse the performance of each sector with public and private stakeholders, in order to consistently improve the environment for doing business in the city. We assure the private sector that the government will share more economic datasets with them to help them to improve their business plans,” stated Al Qamzi.

“As Smart Dubai’s strategic partner, du is working on the deployment of the digital backbone of the city – the smart city platform, Dubai Pulse. We have just entered the second phase of this deployment journey. This retail initiative will support the sector’s capabilities to make informed decisions through this specific retail use case, and we are confident that Dubai Pulse will empower a new era of retail experiences that are tailored to the needs of citizens and residents of Dubai,” concluded Farid Faraidooni, deputy CEO – enterprise solutions, EITC (du).

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