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Mon 13 Aug 2018 03:48 PM

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Artificial intelligence poised to make a significant contribution to Expo 2020

As Dubai prepares to welcome 20 million visitors in 2020, Expo 2020 Dubai believe AI-powered tools will be able to enhance the six-month event

Artificial intelligence poised to make a significant contribution to Expo 2020
The event’s theme, “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, offers both a guiding light for the nations, institutions and companies taking part and for the delivery of the experience itself; after all, a platform for innovation really ought to demonstrate some innovation of its own.

Event experience

It would seem entirely reasonable that Expo 2020 Dubai would not only explore the world of artificial intelligence but seek to showcase its possibilities when it welcomes the world to its Jebel Ali site in a little over two years’ time.

The event’s theme, “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, offers both a guiding light for the nations, institutions and companies taking part and for the delivery of the experience itself; after all, a platform for innovation really ought to demonstrate some innovation of its own.

The team behind it certainly seems to understand this. We recently heard Expo 2020 is the first commercial customer to access 5G in the region and in March this year they revealed their plans to build a “smart site” that will not only create exceptional visitor attractions but enhance the experience itself, from integrated, gamified digital payment platforms to customisable mobility solutions and energy-efficient smart buildings.

Artificial intelligence is also very much part of the project, suggesting that the goal of “connecting minds” might not be limited to those possessed by humans. Crowd management, customer service and smart marketing are all areas Expo 2020 Dubai believe AI-powered tools will be able to enhance.

Mohammed AlHashmi, SVP of Innovation and Future Technology, Expo 2020 Dubai, lays out to Arabian Business his vision for AI at the event. “Artificial intelligence is an exciting revolution and the use cases are endless,” he says.

“We are focusing on harnessing AI technology to enhance the visitor experience, which includes creating shorter and faster queues, providing easier and more personalised access to information, better understanding visitors to unlock opportunities for partners, participants and retailers, and ensuring heightened security of the event.

“AI will be accessible to all at Expo 2020 through the mobile apps we are developing. For example, visitors will be able to access information at their fingertips by asking questions to a chatbot. This will also help to free up our 30,000 volunteers to provide personal service for more complex queries, enhancing the visitor experience.”


Mohammed AlHashmi, SVP of Innovation and Future Technology, Expo 2020 Dubai

AlHashmi and his team are, he says, working alongside the event’s technology partners – which include Accenture, Cisco, Dark Matter, Etisalat, SAP and Siemens – to unlock the full capabilities of AI in these areas, which will help visitors better access and navigate the site but also connect them to the participating countries, pavilions and sponsors.

Ultimately, AI’s best user-case right now is the management and utilisation of the one thing any event attracting 20 million people will generate: data.

“AI’s deep learning component that predicts and offers instant insight is invaluable in helping to make sense of data, which can then be used to make smart recommendations to visitors according to their interests and patterns of behaviour. This could include suggesting an event or pavilion to attend, or appropriate cross-selling and upselling,” AlHashimi says.

“All of these uses of AI are an important part of our planning for an exceptional Expo. But this is only the beginning; two years is a long time in the world of innovation and exactly what will be showcased in 2020 is difficult to predict accurately. It’s an exciting journey to be a part of.”

There are three key areas that Expo 2020 is planning to incorporate AI into the execution of the event:

Customer service/interaction

The Expo 2020 team are currently exploring ways to incorporate AI into customer interaction tools. AI-powered chatbots on the official website or app will be able to provide swift, targeted information for visitors, thus reducing the need to swipe through innumerable pages in search of the relevant material. Even at the site itself, AI will be present in units designed to answer the most frequently occurring customer questions and so freeing up staff or volunteer time to deal with more bespoke requests from visitors.

Crowd management

Expo 2020 is also considering AI tools that can recognise faces and recall visitor profile data to speed up check-in processes at the large events. Similar technology is being used at large music festivals to both authenticate ticket purchasers and also identify possible threats to security.

Visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai will be able to access information at their fingertips by asking questions to a chatbot”

Marketing

AI could be a potential goldmine for anyone in the customer analytics field and, for events such as Expo 2020 Dubai, the ability to have smart information about marketing opportunities is invaluable. This can be achieved by using algorithms to build a profile of the visitor based on their purchases and visits which can then be used to deliver recommendations and promotions in the event pavilions, at displays or in merchandising areas. Offering smart recommendations, enabled by AI’s deep learning component, to both visitors and participants will further enrich their experiences.


Education

Learn the basics: Bachelor’s Degree in AI now available in Dubai

The British University in Dubai has launched the country’s first Bachelor’s Degree in Artificial Intelligence. Developed to support the UAE’s 2031 AI strategy, BUiD said the degree has been developed in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh and is open to both Emiratis and expatriates.

Abdullah Al Shamsi, university’s vice-chancellor, said the foundation year of the new AI programme will introduce undergraduates to every science subject related to AI, before moving to coding and implementing AI. “There is no escape from AI now. It exists in all fields of life – whether in the home, university or the workplace,” he said.

Al Shamsi said the university will offer 24 students with full scholarships available for anyone with over 95 percent high school score.

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