Dubai – MENA Herald: Reflecting the keen interest of the young generation in UAE’s development strategies and projects, students of University of Dubai have conducted a set of research surveys which has highlighted ‘quality’, ‘time’ and ‘cost’ as focal areas to achieve the UAE’s strategic initiatives in customer happiness while emphasising citizen awareness as critical to Dubai’s smart city goals.  

“University of Dubai offers the ideal environment for our students to experience the most up-to-date practices and develop their capabilities to match the future requirements of the nation. We believe that practical approach to education is important to engage our youth with the country’s strategic visions and mold tomorrow’s leaders. The research work undertaken by our students demonstrates their commitment to the nation’s future and underlines the fact that they are abreast of the UAE’s strategic requirements,” said Dr. Eesa M. Bastaki, President of University of Dubai.

Research conducted by Laila Saadi, a student in the university’s Bachelor’s degree programme, on customer’s happiness found that that consumers in the education sector look for high quality of education, service and are particular about time and cost involved.

Saadi’s research in the health sector showed that consumers consider quality of treatment and service as well as time and cost crucial factors. In the utility services sector, users consider time as the biggest concern, followed by quality of service and cost.

The research was based on fundamental questions on the factors that influence customer happiness in these sectors and covered various communities in the UAE. The quantitative research was able to narrow down the various happiness indices governing aspects to three main elements: quality, time and cost.

The degree of importance of each of these indices varies from one sector to another in the three targeted sectors. The research also showed how the happiness indices can be applied in any business to generate facts.

A research by another student, Saeed Sultan Almheiri, identified infrastructure, technology, energy, analytical framework, security, mobility, governance, and citizens as the most important factors to achieve Dubai’s smart city initiative.

The research was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Sami Miniaoui, Director of UD Centre for Research & Consultancy, University of Dubai, over a period of eight months and covered 60 respondents from various fields.

The research showed that Dubai’s current infrastructure in areas such as buildings, road and transport, and communication and network are in line with the requirements of the smart city initiative.

It revealed that technology has played the most important role in transforming Dubai into a smart city. The survey also highlighted the high growth achieved by Dubai in mobile, internet, network, and communications technology, pointing to the emirate’s preparedness to proceed with the smart city initiative with minimal change in standards.

However, the survey pointed out that citizen awareness and engagement in the smart city initiative requires more attention. Moreover, it also pointed to the need to improve analytical framework, navigation systems, and energy framework to make Dubai a smart city.

In terms of rating of factors, most citizens mentioned that due importance should be on citizens, followed by infrastructure, technology, and governance.

The research said analytical tools and techniques can be improved by including advanced surveying methods, and data collection tools and technologies. It recommended collection of data from all areas, with the sample size based on the size of the area.

In order to increase awareness among citizens, the research said citizens must be informed about the meaning and implications of the smart city initiative using promotional methods such as awareness campaigns, and by developing smartphone applications and websites.

According to industry experts, the UAE has advanced cutting-edge technologies in the Middle East, and Dubai government’s initiatives will make its Smart City project one of the best in the world. The initiative features 100 initiatives on six key pillars: transport, communications, infrastructure, electricity, economic services and urban planning. Under the initiative, 1,000 government services are set to go smart by 2017.