U.S. Experts Showcase Transformative Role of Mobility on Future Cities

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November 1, 2021

Leadership from Parsons, Honeywell, Uber, and NYU Abu Dhabi envisioned smart cities of the future during the third installment of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council’s business roundtable series at the U.S. Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. This discussion – moderated by the Futurist in Chief at the Dubai Future Foundation – coincided with Expo’s “Rural and Urban Development” theme week. A video recording of the panel can be found here, and by clicking the button below. 

Monica Menendez, Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering at NYU Abu Dhabi as well as Director of the NYUAD Research Center for Interacting Urban Networks, highlighted the integral role that transportation and mobility will play in future cities. Monica emphasized that transportation is the backbone of cities, and that deploying technology to improve the quality and sustainability of everyday life is more important than ever as cities strive to become more connected. Monica also addressed the interconnectedness of transportation and sustainability, remarking that transportation is one of the leading pollutants worldwide, and underscoring the need for the electrification of transportation methods using electricity from clean sources. 

Pierre Santoni, President for the MENA region at Parsons, discussed the importance of 3D printing and how this technology can help develop better buildings that are safer to build and are less intrusive of the environment. Moreover, Pierre detailed Parsons’ development of advanced solutions  for smart cities, noting that Parsons seeks to harness technology to design solutions that are best for clients, and cities of the future. Pierre also discussed the importance of security in cities of the future – particularly cybersecurity, saying that Parsons is focusing on developing systems that can operate even with hackers present, as opposed to just working on keeping hackers out. 
 
Mohamed Moselhy, Leader of Honeywell’s Smart Cities Vertical, shared his deep insights into the digitization of smart cities, including through the use of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence.  Mohamed lauded Dubai for being 100% digitized by the end of the year, which sets an example for other cities, and means massive improvements in sustainability and the ease of living in the city. 
 
Cezanne Maherali, Head of Public Policy for the Middle East and Africa at Uber, outlined Uber’s vision for the future, noting that Uber’s goal is for people to go anywhere, and get anything all at the touch of a single app in their pocket. Cezanne also discussed Uber’s hope that the future will be more shared, more electric, multi-modal, and more inclusive. With the advent of more ridesharing and other forms of transportation that limit private car use, Cezanne observed there will be less need for parking lots, which currently occupy 25-30% of cities. 

Noah Raford, Futurist in Chief at the Dubai Future Foundation expertly moderated this panel, and provided background on the important work done by the Dubai Future Foundation in preparing the city for whatever may come in the future. Noah went on to say that while the Dubai government is responsible for the day to day running of the city, it is the Dubai Future Foundation’s job to help create radical change. 
 
The Business Council’s next Expo business roundtable discussion will occur at the U.S. Pavilion on Thursday, November 18th 2021 when it will host a conversation on tolerance and inclusivity coinciding with Expo’s Tolerance and Inclusivity theme week. In conversation with moderator Kelsey Warner of The National, panelists from Special Olympics, Accenture, and the American Jewish Committee Office in Abu Dhabi will discuss the many ways in which inclusion and openness shape strong societies. To register your interest in attending this event, please contact Mary Zuccarello at mzuccarello@usuaebusiness.org