DUBAI // The days of “turn left at the mosque and we’re behind the bakery” are about to end. Officials in Dubai yesterday showed off address plaques that will be placed at the entrance to 130,000 buildings, with 10-digit codes that can pinpoint the location to within a metre.
Everywhere in the UAE has such a unique code, but Dubai is leading the way by linking up with the Explorer maps company and putting them to practical use.
“We deliberately did not put a Dubai Municipality logo on the plaque because we have presented the idea to federal bodies who are now discussing the possibility of applying the system throughout the country,” said Abdul Hakim Malik, director of the municipality’s Global Information Systems department.
The new plaques will start to appear by the end of this year.
The code follows the National Coordinates Grid system, which can be communicated much more quickly and accurately than a lengthy street address and without the need to specify a nearby landmark.
The 10-digit code can be used in its entirety to pinpoint an exact location anywhere in the country, or the first few digits can be used to give an idea of the area.
It operates in two ways. Users can visit www.mylocation.ae for an interactive map of the UAE, and use the code to search for the location. The site also supplies directions for how to get there.
Alternatively, the address plaques being distributed in Dubai also display a code that can be read by smart devices. Residents can take a photo of the code with their smartphone and then send it to anyone who needs to find that location without having to explain how to get there.
Government bodies will also be able to obtain data about the building or business and access all their records by scanning the code.
Although the code can be used for everyday services, such as deliveries, it can also assist in emergencies.
“Civil Defence sometimes do not know how to reach a location. When they finally arrive it might be too late,” Mr Malik said.
“The system is minutely accurate compared with other navigation systems, to the extent that every one with a smart device can identify the exact place.”
Plaques on 130,000 buildings in Dubai are the first phase of the project. The second phase of the project will involve advising shops, factories and warehouses of their address codes.
Phase three will focus on apartments and offices inside buildings.
“Distribution of the address numbers will take time,” said Hussain Lootah, director general of Dubai Municipality. “We will start implementing the signs by the last quarter of this year.
“This is a free service we will be offering to the public that should greatly improve and simplify life for residents of Dubai.
“With this code you can find any building, any street, any park bench.”
National grids such as the new UAE one are based on the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system developed by the US army in the 1940s, which can locate a spot anywhere in the world to within a millimetre. They have been successfully implemented in countries including Britain, Finland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States.