Cisco CX: Bringing human and digital connections to life at Expo 2020 Dubai

Cisco CX: Bringing human and digital connections to life at Expo 2020 Dubai

Expo 2020 Dubai is set to welcome millions of visitors from around the globe, with the event said to be the largest ever held in the Arab world. The event needed to deliver an end-to-end network architecture capable of meeting both performance and capacity requirements, and Cisco CX provided the solution. Mohammed Alhashmi, Chief Technology Officer at Expo 2020 Dubai, tells us of the importance of having the right network infrastructure in place to accelerate digitisation and provide seamless and secure connectivity for all, while Adele Trombetta,  Vice President of Customer Experience at Cisco Middle East and Africa and Technology Transformation Group for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Russia talks us through the project.

While every World Expo is a historic event in its own right, Expo 2020 Dubai is set to break new ground as the most digitally connected event of its kind.

As the first World Expo to be hosted in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, and the largest ever event to be held in the Arab world, Expo 2020 will attract millions of visitors both virtually and in person, during its six-month run.

A trusted partner

With a tall promise to deliver on, the organiser required a trusted partner with a workforce equally as passionate and aligned with Expo’s mission of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ through the fields of opportunity, mobility and sustainability. This is where Cisco came in, appointed as the Digital Network Partner of Expo 2020 Dubai back in 2018. Cisco’s work on previous projects of such magnitude includes working as a strategic partner for both Expo 2010 Shanghai and Expo 2015 Milan, as well as being the official networking supplier for the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Integral to delivering what Expo bills to be ‘182 days of unparalleled experiences’ is the creation of highly immersive and memorable experiences – for organisers, participants and visitors alike. To help enable this, Expo 2020 Dubai looked towards Cisco’s Customer Experience – a team of technology and transformation experts who work with customers to get more value from their technology investment, faster.

Cisco CX has been instrumental in providing support for planning, design, procurement and project execution across the 4.38km² site, supporting seamless collaboration across all devices, delivering dynamic signage and maintaining network security.

Sophisticated network architecture

The team at Cisco CX recommended and deployed Cisco’s Intent-Based Network to consolidate operations under a single IP network. This combined with Cisco’s Software Defined Access (SD-Access) solution, delivers an end-to-end network architecture capable of meeting both performance and capacity requirements. With scalable, agile technologies at play, Expo 2020 Dubai is able to provide access to any users on any device or application, from the edge to the cloud, without compromising on security.

The theme of secure connectivity runs through each of Cisco’s offerings at Expo 2020 Dubai, including the Converged Network, the Physical Security Network and the establishment of a Network Operating Centre (NOC) at the site to manage and maintain Expo’s network operations.

Immersive and seamless experiences

As Expo 2020 Dubai brings the world together, creating lasting experiences requires the visitor to be able to engage with digitally-rich content – whether it be through Augmented or Virtual Reality, location-sensitive applications or even simply scanning barcodes and QR codes.

With the help of Cisco CX, more than 9,000 Wi-Fi access points have been deployed across the site, promising to keep every user connected. Around 400 of these access points are Wi-Fi 6 enabled, in areas where ultra-fast connectivity is key. Collectively, these technologies provide secure, seamless roaming for attendees and also support mobile communication for volunteers, employees and thousands of visitors on a daily basis.

The Cisco CX team has also deployed Cisco Vision, an end-to-end dynamic signage and IPTV solution that enables Expo 2020 Dubai to communicate and engage with visitors in new, impactful ways, and broadcast partner branding through immersive ultra-high-definition (UHD) video content. The solution enables Expo to deliver personalised experiences, centrally managing around 600 digital canvasses across the entire site, from traditional screens to LEDs and mega-screens.

Ready for a future beyond Expo 2020

Cisco CX has worked closely with Expo 2020 Dubai to meet an aggressive deployment deadline, completing original network deployment as early as September 2019. Together they have celebrated a number of milestones, and crucially, also thoroughly tested, and optimised technologies well ahead of time – and are now ready to welcome the world.

Once Expo 2020 Dubai concludes on 31 March 2022, more than 80% of its built environment and infrastructure will be repurposed (including many of Cisco’s solutions). District 2020 is Expo’s human-centric smart community, designed to support the UAE’s advancement towards an innovation-driven economy. Retained solutions will help to transform District 2020 into a residential, commercial and cultural hub – creating a truly lasting legacy to inspire current and future generations.

“Our ambition has always been to take the World Expo experience to new heights. Having the right network infrastructure and strategic collaboration in place is key. Over the years, Cisco has proved to be a trusted partner and consultant helping to accelerate our digitisation agenda and to provide seamless and secure connectivity for employees, volunteers, participants and visitors alike,” said Mohammed Alhashmi, Chief Technology Officer at Expo 2020 Dubai.

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