The Dubai World Expo started a year late due to the coronavirus pandemic and closed on March 31, after receiving more than 23 million visits. But Expo 2020 wants to last beyond the six months that it has been open to the glare of the whole world. Its organizers proposed to build a new city in the middle of the desert on the land occupied by the pavilions of the 192 participating countries, which will be called District 2020.
The challenge is to reuse 80% of Expo buildings and facilities to create a “sustainable human-centric smart city” capable of housing 145,000 people, according to Nadimeh Mehra, Vice President of District 2020. The project will be configured to offer housing, learning centers, office space, cultural and leisure facilities, schools and higher education, but integrated into a friendly ecosystem so that any area of the new city that will occupy 4.4 square kilometers, double the surface, can be reached on foot in 15 minutes.
“We will work in a futuristic city where people can work and live in an innovation-driven ecosystem that will accelerate future technologies to reinvent the future of smart and sustainable urban spaces, fully digitized and with 5G coverage,” explains Mehra to a group of international journalists, including the correspondent of EL PAÍS, during a trip to Dubai organized by Siemens.
And it is that the German multinational will play a great role in the creation of this city of the future as it has already had at Expo 2020, since it has been commissioned to design a system that connects more than 130 buildings in an intelligent way, thanks to MindSphere, Siemens’ cloud-based operating system, in which the data generated by elevators, air conditioners, lights and other hardware are linked and linked to each other to obtain new information and control functions such as refrigeration, air quality, access and fire alarm. Buildings become smart thanks to this Siemens application, which creates a “digital twin” of each installation that governs flows and consumption, thanks to artificial intelligence and algorithms that anticipate the needs and requirements of several structures at the same time , according to Afzal Mohammed, Head of MindSphere.
“Expo 2020 Dubai is the world’s best example of a connected and purpose-built urban environment to date, and Siemens wants to make it a model for future smart cities. It extracts information from 210,000 data points, 5,500 gates and over 15,000 cameras. These sensors collect data, send it to the cloud and, as they are all interconnected, they allow us to predict the needs and requirements of people, distributed in various places. Managers access this digital twin through the application for analyzing all building data in real time. In this way, consumption and all operations are optimized, reducing polluting emissions, saving water and energy,” explains Mathias Rebellius, CEO of Intelligent Infrastructure at Siemens.
He knows all sides of the coin in depth.
District 2020 will encompass government institutions, large companies and entrepreneurial SMEs, academic institutions, cultural attractions, accelerators, start-up project incubators to attract talent from around the world. Siemens is one of the first multinationals to trust the new city and has signed a lease to set up 11,000 square meters of office space there as a base of operations in the region and for its subsidiary Siemens Energy, where 1,000 employees. .
“Ultimately, the focus is on the human being in which technology plays a supporting role. And in this human nature of technology, Siemens wants to bring safety, security and sustainability, based on technological concepts such as its MindSphere IoT operating system, the cloud-based energy analysis platform Navigator and the system CC digital building management system,” says the CEO. from Siemens Expo 2020, Oliver Kraft.
But it won’t just be tech in District 2020. Although it’s in the middle of the desert, it will feature 45,000 square meters of green space and parkland filled with local native species, such as trees. Drought-tolerant ghaf and jasmine bushes. The buildings are also designed with respect for the environment, and each one is equipped with panels located in “solar palm trees”, which give a very characteristic appearance to the avenues. There will be 10 kilometers of bike paths, five kilometers of jogging paths and a four kilometer transit route with driverless autonomous vehicles.
The city will retain 123 of the Expo’s structures and buildings, from the iconic UAE pavilion, which mimics the wings of a falcon and was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, to the enormous glass dome and d steel of Al Wasl Plaza, the symbol of Expo 2020. The pavilion of poetry from the UK, another of the event’s thrills, cone-shaped with a circular facade that uses advanced machine learning algorithms to turn visitor entry into collective poems, will become a hydrogen innovation hub. And the Italian nautical pavilion, whose roof is made up of three ships’ hulls and its facade of marine ropes, will be transformed into a center for the conservation of archaeological artifacts and art recovered from war zones. A total of 260,000 square meters of buildings converted for Expo will provide housing and office space for 145,000 people.
The first wave of 85 companies will start moving into the Expo buildings from October this year, although Scale2Dubai, the organization in charge of managing the new spaces, has selected nearly 700 interested companies to settle in the new smart city, which will also become the first fully covered by a state-of-the-art 5G and Wi-Fi telephone network.
Expo Dubai, whose motto was “Connecting Minds and Creating the Future”, aspires to leave District 2020 the greatest legacy of any other World Expo in history, which until now is not known. than for unique buildings that have survived like the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The aim is to serve as an example of the potential of smart cities. The smartification is called to transform the administration, transport, health and public safety of the city, and will be essential for the habitability of the planet given that, according to the United Nations, 68% of the world’s population will live in areas for 2050. Siemens estimates that investments to make cities smarter will double, from $100 billion in 2021 to $250 billion in 2030.
The Expo 2020 party came to a close on March 31 with performances by Christina Aguilera, Norah Jones and Yo-Yo Ma under the impressive interactive dome of Al Wasl Plaza, while Emirates aerobatic planes Air Force United Arabs flew over the clear desert sky. Now is the time to collect the confetti and champagne glasses and ensure that this impressive futuristic space surrounded by sand does not become a “white elephant” of more than millions of dollars wasted. The semi-derelict land and buildings of La Cartuja de Sevilla, site of Expo 1992, are an example of the waste that Dubai wants to avoid.