Dubai, March 13, 2019 – Smart Dubai has concluded another successful participation in the world-renowned South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference & Festivals, held on March 8-17, 2019, in Austin, Texas, winning the prestigious SXSW Interactive Innovation Award.

This year marks the 22nd edition of the Award and was presented by international audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG to Smart Dubai in recognition of the Dubai Paperless Strategy. Innovators from around the world competed for the prize, which honours ground-breaking and promising technological developments.

Smart Dubai’s stand at the international event housed a presentation on the Dubai Paperless Strategy, launched in February 2018 to transform the Dubai Government into a fully digital administration, transferring all applicable transactions to digital platforms by the year 2021.

Smart Dubai’s Director General H.E. Dr Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, who led the delegation to SXSW, elaborated on the subject in a session titled “Can Emerging Tech Make a City 100% Paperless?” further highlighting the Dubai Paperless Strategy and the emirate’s efforts to leverage emerging technologies, such as Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI), to make the entire city paperless, and design end-to-end, experiential journeys for all residents and visitors.

“Dubai has made tremendous progress in transitioning towards a full-fledged smart city of the future,” H.E. asserted. “One area where this is increasingly visible is the shift away from paper, driven by the ambitious Dubai Paperless Strategy, which seeks to transfer all applicable paper transactions in Dubai Government offices to digital platforms by 2021 – the country’s 50th anniversary. The Strategy has successfully progressed into its 2nd phase, inaugurating the first two fully digital customer ‘journeys’ on the DubaiNow platform and application – the city’s one-stop shop for smart services. Our efforts are already paying off as six government departments were already past the halfway mark in the shift away from paper at the end of 2018. We are delighted and grateful to see that success recognised once again here, as we receive the prestigious SXSW Interactive Innovation Award.”

“Smart Dubai is committed to participating in international events such as SXSW to exchange expertise and know-how in smart-city transformation with experts from around the world, and to showcase our innovations in a positive, collaborative environment. It is equally a chance for us to learn from other organisations and individuals making breakthroughs in the global smart technology sector,” H.E. concluded.

The Dubai Paperless Strategy will allow the emirate to economise over one billion pieces of paper used in government operations every year, saving 130,000 trees in the process, and saving people more than 40 hours of labour a year, thus cutting costs by a large enough sum to feed four million children around the world.

In a session titled “Unleashing Cities’ Collective Superpower”, Dr Ali Al-Azzawi, Smart Dubai’s City Experience Advisor, joined Nicole Flatow, Editor of CityLab; Miguel Gamino Jr., Executive Vice-President of Global Cities at Mastercard; and Maya Wiley, Henry Cohen Professor and Senior VP for Social Justice at The New School; in a panel exploring how cities across the globe are looking at ways to deliver better services for their citizens, from inclusive access to employment and education, to supporting local economic growth and ensuring prosperity.

Dr Al-Azzawi went on to join the “Internet Stories at Ignite® SXSW”, where 10 speakers share their stories and tips about the internet. The topics of discussion covered a wide spectrum of subjects ranging from Bias in Artificial Intelligence and Securing Medical Devices, to Women in the Workplace, Fashion and Technology, and Saving the Bees. For his part, Dr Al-Azzawi spoke of the Happy Cities Agenda, outlining steps and approaches to build a socially smart, happy city.

H.E. Wesam Lootah, CEO of the Smart Dubai Government Establishment, said: “This award is a significant achievement for the UAE and for Dubai. What sets the Dubai Paperless Strategy apart is that it was designed around people’s anticipated future needs, in addition to its integrated and holistic nature. We did not create it to focus exclusively on government transactions, instead, we designed it to integrate services together in end-to-end journeys.”

“What really earned the Strategy its win is the fact that it has already been implemented, spawning outstanding services even though it has only been a year since its launch,” H.E. Lootah added. “What has been achieved so far is the result of cooperation with our government partners to implement the Strategy; I am confident that this Award is the first of many future achievements that we can look forward to on our way to the top of the carts with all of our projects.”

Launched in 1987, South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festivals, including conferences on a range of topics that take place in mid-March in Austin, Texas. SXSW is run by the company SXSW, LLC, which organises conferences, trade shows, festivals, and other events. In addition to the three main South by Southwest festivals, the company runs SXSWedu, a conference on educational innovation, held in Austin, and the me Convention, held in Frankfurt, Germany, in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz.