Germany's Siemens to move hundreds of staff to Expo 2020 Dubai legacy site

The company's technology will help future residents cut their energy costs

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German engineering giant Siemens will be among the first to move into Dubai’s District 2020 when it opens later this year.

Hundreds of its staff will take up residence in a building close to Al Wasl Dome.

The company has pledged to roll out its cutting edge technology across the new community, including its “smart city” app that aims to reduce energy costs for residents.

District 2020 in Dubai South is set to open in October with the 4.38-square-kilometre area repurposed to host 145,000 residents and workers.

It aims to become the UAE's first 15-minute city, which means anything a resident needs can be reached within a quarter of an hour by foot or bike.

Now Helmut von Struve, chief executive of Siemens Middle East, has revealed for the first time what his company's presence there means for residents and how its technology — successfully deployed at Expo 2020 Dubai covering an area twice the size of Monaco — could transform their lives.

We are really very happy that we have an opportunity to stay here,” Mr Von Struve told The National. “This is a brilliant opportunity for the future.”

Siemens will make a start with about 250 engineers, researchers and logistics experts moving into a building it occupied near the Al Wasl dome during the Expo 2020.

Photographs of the building show futuristic interior displays in an “experience centre” to demonstrate the software that controls functions in more than 130 buildings across the site.

An app that helps

Helmut von Struve, chief executive of Siemens Middle East. 'Our team members are looking forward to moving,' he says.
Antonie Robertson / The National

After the world’s fair ended in Dubai in March, about 80 per cent of the buildings and infrastructure remain, along with the software and sensors installed in them.

More than 15,000 cameras operated by Siemens across the site feed data to site managers and an access control system connects about 5,500 doors. MindSphere, an operating system, controls temperature, checks heating, air conditioning, fire alarm systems, ventilation and electricity usage. Residents can then access this data through the “smart city” app.

“We are extremely proud that we have been able to deploy our smart city app to connect the real world with the digital world,” Mr von Struve said.

“We have connected more than 130 buildings, taking the data, making it visual and contextualising it.”

“We measure air quality. When we get information of temperature readings — depending on the number of people in a building — we can adjust the air conditioning, make it more comfortable.

“This also enables energy savings because you don't need to operate air conditioning where there are no people.”

During the Expo, a visit to the Siemens building was on the agenda of global delegations keen to see energy efficiency and sustainability benefits in future developments.

“It’s a blueprint and we were very happy to deploy such technology in an environment twice the size of Monaco,” he said.

Savings for residents

The integrated system will allow residents to track their use of air conditioning, water and electricity.

Software readings will alert residents when the temperature in a room has reached the optimal level and can be remotely switched off.

Mr von Struve spoke of big savings on water usage.

“If you have irrigation systems with a leakage, normally these leakages are not immediately detected,” he said.

“With this system, you can zoom into the zone of the leakages and operators are able to switch off a certain valve to minimise it.”

A precise amount of fertilisers can be used in green areas avoiding wastage.

“The energy efficiency is for each of the tenants, be it a commercial tenant or of the residential unit because the whole aim of the development of District 2020 is a human-centric city.”

Smart city tie-ups

The Siemens centre in the new District 2020 will be a test bed for innovation. Photo: Siemens

Striking architectural structures, two large parks, walking and cycle paths are some distinctive features of District 2020.

Mr von Struve was upbeat about collaborations that would unfold in the district that aims to attract sharp minds from academia and the business world.

The company conducted hackathons with start-ups for technology solutions during the world’s fair and envisions more such contests.

“Sustainability is so important for the country, for us as individuals and for the globe,” he said.

“Being part of such a district that will continue to develop and will host not only companies like ourselves, but also academia, start-ups, that is extremely positive.

“Our team members are looking forward to moving. There are cycling tracks and a lot of offerings that will contribute to a fantastic experience.”

Updated: May 13, 2022, 7:48 AM