GRM 2010 GRM 2011

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Dubai Happiness Agenda: Engineering the Happiest City on Earth
Paper Proposal Text :
The vision for Dubai is to become the “Happiest City on Earth”, as outlined by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE, and Ruler of Dubai. This vision is undoubtedly noble, with many technical, social and psychological challenges. This paper outlines the strategy, and the mechanisms employed to reach this vision, along with the technological and psychological tools used to ensure success, describing some actions taken to overcome such challenges, and data showing progress towards this vision.
The strategy opted for by the city’s government is to focus efforts on transformation towards a world class Smart City, where smart technologies are seen as enablers towards the goal of happiness. However, such a strategy also needs to be grounded in clear definitions, frameworks and activities, where excelling in their practice, would eventually lead to the vision outlined above. There are various definitions of smart cities that include information and communication technologies (ICTs), quality of life, efficiency, and competitiveness, while maintaining balance with respect to economic, social, environmental, and cultural aspects. Within such a broad range of issues, there are dominant dimensions, such as the ones suggested by the European Union project aimed at ranking smart cities (Centre of Regional Science, 2007); Economy, Living, Mobility, Governance, Environment, & People.
A primary step in this endeavour is to deal with the definition of ‘happiness’. However, though at first this may seem challenging, with various philosophical and psychological theories, some dating back to ancient philosophers, this may be overcome by focusing on the Well-Being literature, and turning instead towards fulfilling the needs of city residents in such ways as to raise happiness. Starting with Subjective Well-Being (SWB), it is equated to the sum of (A) Affective and (C) Cognitive needs (OECD, 2013), though this equation ignores (B) Basic needs that address the prosaic aspects of life in the city, as well as the (D) Deeper and more profound eudaimonic needs, which are more about higher meaning and purpose. This view forms the basis of the ABCD model of needs. Smart Dubai Office (SDO) therefore aims to increase ‘happiness’ by satisfying these needs towards a more complete and holistic positive experience in the city.
The mechanism for fulfilling these needs is the Happiness Agenda, which aims to systematically address the needs of customers, and increase happiness in a structured and methodical way. The Agenda has been designed to be fully aligned with the City Transformation Agenda, with its three Impact axis; Customer, Financial, & Resources. The Happiness Agenda is composed of four portfolios: Discover, Change, Educate, & Measure. Each portfolio is composed of programmes that are focused on achieving the strategic objectives of the portfolio, with each programme having a variety of specific projects to be executed. The projects within these portfolios are designed to; find needs, create changes and interventions, create awareness so that other stakeholders may contribute to fixing issues proactively, and innovate towards ‘happiness’ by satisfying these needs. This paper describes how psychological techniques and measures, combined with smart technologies, are used as the tools within the Happiness Agenda.