Font Size

- Aa +

Fri 18 Oct 2019 06:22 PM

Font Size

- Aa +

Mohammed Al Hashmi: how tech aims to ensure Expo 2020 success

Mohammed Al Hashmi, CTO of Expo 2020 Dubai, explains how technology will be the lifeblood of the region's largest ever event

Mohammed Al Hashmi: how tech aims to ensure Expo 2020 success

Mohammed Al Hashmi, chief technology officer, Expo 2020 Dubai.

Expo 2020 Dubai is set to showcase some of the most futuristic innovations the world has ever seen. So it’s no surprise that the event’s own technology backbone is set to be world-first, smart and innovative.

With around 145,000 people expected to pass through the site’s gates during every one of the 173 days the event is open and just a year to go to the launch, the importance of guaranteeing an optimal guest experience is paramount.

“Due to their global popularity, past World Expos have seen queues for some pavilions stretching for several hours,” Mohammed Al Hashmi, chief technology officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, tells Arabian Business.

“We want to ensure guests spend less time queuing and more time discovering the cutting-edge innovations and immersive experiences across our thematic and country pavilions,” says Al Hashmi.

To enhance the visitor experience, Expo 2020 will utilise an intelligent Smart Queue system to help organise crowds.

Expo 2020’s technology and ticketing teams will incorporate the system across the three thematic pavilions – Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability – and the country pavilions that have opted for the service.

Similar to fast-pass schemes found at theme parks, the system offers guests the ability to reserve a specific time slot and visit each pavilion at a time convenient to them without having to wait in potentially lengthy queues.

Every guest who purchases a ticket for Expo 2020 Dubai will be entitled to one free Smart Queue pass to visit one of the participating pavilions, which visitors can select through the official Expo 2020 Dubai website. Once on site, guests will be able to register online to book additional Smart Queue passes for other pavilions.

Technology teamwork

Al Hashmi says the event is working with technology partners – such as Accenture, Etisalat, Siemens and Cisco – to create a “fantastic experience” for Expo 2020 guests by using some of the latest tech available, including 5G, augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI) and next-gen display technologies.

Expo 2020 Dubai will collaborate with Smart Dubai to set up an AI-powered chatbot called ‘Amal’, which is the event’s variant of the citywide AI initiative ‘Rashid’.

Through this collaboration, which also includes Accenture and Etisalat, visitors will be able to use Amal to gather information on shows and attractions, subscribe to newsletters and provide feedback throughout the 173 days of the event.

Amal will offer its services in English and Arabic through the Expo 2020 website, or via the Expo 2020 mobile app.

“Thanks to its AI functionality through its Smart Dubai connection, Amal will be able to process and analyse large volumes of information in real time to answer visitors’ questions both accurately and fast. It is also designed to learn and autonomously develop and improve its service,” Al Hashmi says.

Currently under development, the Expo 2020 Dubai mobile app will offer a host of functionalities, which so far include ticket purchases, Smart Queue bookings, daily programming information and Expo 2020 Dubai site maps.

App users will also have access to curated journeys – an option which will allow them to select and modify pre-defined journeys and related augmented reality experiences across the site.

Cisco connections

As the Official Digital Network Partner of Expo 2020 Dubai, global networking giant Cisco will be integral to the overall visitor experience offering, says Al Hashmi.

“Its network products support Expo 2020 Dubai’s digital experience by helping visitors, participants and businesses connect securely, reliably and seamlessly – on any device, from anywhere on the 4.38 sq km site,” he says.

Providing the expo’s back-office operations and visitors with a seamless network experience, Cisco will host around 8,000 Wi-Fi access points, serving up to 250,000 users per day during the event.

“A strong network security infrastructure is critical to ensuring the success of Expo 2020 Dubai. Cisco solutions will be deployed around the site to help detect and stop threats, keeping visitors and employees connected in a safe and seamless manner,” the company said in a statement.

Cisco will also support a CCTV network which, once completed, will minimise blind spots; providing security teams with visibility and coverage to monitor and control access throughout the site.

Currently, more than 3,200 Cisco phones are being used in the Expo 2020 offices, with over 1,000 users making use of Webex Teams – the company’s on-demand collaboration and file sharing suite.

The Expo 2020 Dubai site will also make use of Cisco Vision, the company’s digital signage solution in one of its largest deployments worldwide.

Smart city innovations

As the largest event ever held in the Arab region, Expo 2020 Dubai will be one of the world’s most connected sites with a site-wide 5G network.

At around 20 times faster than 4G, 5G technology will enable users to stream live 4K resolution any time, with virtually no lag.

“The introduction of 5G at Expo 2020 takes forward the ‘Smart Dubai’ vision of a digital and interconnected city, providing further impetus to Dubai’s aspirations to be the smartest city in the world,” says Al Hashmi.