During last week, the Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) signed two separate agreements with vendors for collaboration on 3D printing and for establishing a communication platform for Smart Grid applications.
3D printing and additive manufacturing research
DEWA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on March 27 with GE Additive (NYSE: GE) to collaborate on 3D printing, additive manufacturing and digital technologies for the forthcoming ‘Industrial Internet’.
Under the MOU, DEWA’s R&D Centre and Innovation and The Future Division will work with GE on accelerating promising startups in disruptive technology areas shaping the future of industry. Collaborative research will be conducted to develop additive manufacturing technologies, rapid prototyping, digital technologies, including the Internet of Things and software development, supporting DEWA in its mission to deliver efficient, reliable and safe electricity and water services through smart technologies.
The research areas will also encompass artificial intelligence and robotics for enhanced productivity and efficiency, sustainability and energy efficiency, conventional and renewable technologies in power and water, smart grid integration and innovations for the utility of the future.
This partnership is in line with the The ‘Dubai 3D Printing Strategy’, which aims to make Dubai a leading hub of 3D printing technology by 2030. One of its targets is to have 25% of Dubai’s buildings 3D-printed by 2030. The Strategy expects to reduce labour by 70%, cost by 90%, and time by 80% in the different sectors, including construction, medical products (3D printed teeth, bones, artificial organs and medical and surgical devices and hearing aids) and consumer products (household items, optics, fashion jewellery, children’s games and fast food)
Communication platform for smart grid applications
On March 29, DEWA entered into an agreement to establish a communication platform for Smart Grid applications, such as smart electricity, water meter and distribution automation. The solution is being provided by Silver Spring Networks International Ltd.
The communication platform will cover the whole of Dubai and will serve all the communication requirements for all Smart Grid Applications. This will enable secure, reliable communications for smart electricity and water systems.
DEWA developed a comprehensive Smart Grid strategy in line with the Smart Dubai vision. The Smart Grid consists of three initiatives to meet supply requirements, while enabling monitoring to facilitate smart and environmentally friendly use of resources. The first initiative aims to integrate renewable energy in form of solar power into houses and buildings. As part of the second initiative Smart Meters will be installed into private and public spaces. Under the third one, DEWA has committed to create an infrastructure for electrically driven vehicles to be charged.
DEWA expects to have installed over 1 million smart meters by 2020, replacing all mechanical and electromechanical meters.
Intelligent online chatbot
During the first quarter 2017, DEWA launched an online chatbot, the Rammas service, to communicate with customers in both Arabic and English,and respond to their enquiries.
This is expected to reduce the number of visitors to DEWA offices by 80%, and encourage the use of smart channels to support the Smart Dubai initiative. It also supports DEWA’s efforts to enhance artificial intelligence,furthering its vision to become a sustainable innovative world-class utility.
Rammas acts as a virtual employee. The application is available on both iOS and Android platforms, in addition to DEWA’s website, Facebook page, and on the Alexa smart device from Amazon. The chatbot responds to customers instantly, while continuing to learn and understand their needs based on their enquiries. Questions are accurately answered and transactions streamline based on analysis of the enquiries, utilising available data and information.
Since its launch, the service has received over 87,000 enquiries in less than a month and a half, via the various communication platforms. Rammas received about 67,500 requests via DEWA’s website, 18,500 via DEWA’s Smart Application, and 1,500 via DEWA’s Facebook page.
In February 2017, Dubai Customs launched an artificial intelligence communication service, which connects Dubai Customs with its clients through social media platforms, and responds to clients' enquires 24/7, without any human intervention, through Dubai Customs accounts on Facebook and Twitter.