Chris Surdak shares the lessons he has learnt from Dubai’s strategies to “Jerk” or disrupt the way that information is created, stored and utilised around the globe, and to do so in a way that simultaneously emphasises speed, openness, security and value.
In my new book, Jerk: Twelve Steps to Rule the World, I discuss how companies such as Uber, Airbnb and Simple Bank are using new business models to disrupt existing industries. These new innovators cause disruption, or “Jerk”, by breaking with the traditional rules of capitalism and embracing Information as the new source of wealth and power in our world. Combining information with new consumption models such as sharing and bartering economies, Jerks create enormous value for end users by better utilising present investments and creating increasing information wealth along the way.
Recently, my team and I spent several days with a delegation from the Department of Economic Development of the Government of Dubai. This group, led by H.E Mohammed Shael Al Saadi, and Mr. Wael Osman, is tasked with driving Dubai to the forefront of the global information economy. Their mission was to visit with experts on Big Data, Security, Blockchain, Smart Cities and the Sharing Economy in several cities across the United States and explore the latest innovations in these areas. Through a comprehensive group of initiatives, Dubai is seeking to “Jerk” or disrupt the way that information is created, stored and utilised around the globe, and to do so in a way that simultaneously emphasises speed, openness, security and value.
Dubai’s goal is not to become merely a smart city, but rather to become the smartest city, and a model for all other cities around the world. This is an enormous undertaking that would take any organisation decades to implement. For a government to undertake this effort, with the goal of completing this transformation ahead of Dubai’s 2020 World Expo is truly monumental. But, as stated by Al Saadi, “We have a God-given ability to fix the challenges that present themselves. The key is to choose to change and then to do it. Only then can you find and fix the issues that arise.”
An Open Road to Success
The effort, driven by the Smart Dubai Office, began in March 2014 when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the Smart Dubai Initiative within The Executive Office. A small initiative within a government office was then turned into the Smart Dubai Office, lead by Her Excellency Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr as Director General, with the governance structure and authority to unite public and private sector leaders to deliver an efficient, seamless, safe and impactful city experience for residents and visitors.