Digital license plates will soon be on the streets of Dubai

Digital license plates are becoming a reality in Dubai as the city looks to modernize all facets of its transportation. But with the advancement also comes plenty of privacy concerns.

The city will begin its digital license plates trial next month, according to the BBC. The plates will have screens, GPS and transmitters by which messages can be displayed and cars tracked.

The head of Dubai's Vehicle Licensing Department said the plates will alert police and ambulances if a car is in an accident, and allows driver-to-driver communication about hazards in the road or other traffic conditions.

If a car or plate is stolen, the license plate can also flash an alert that it's ended up in the wrong hands. And because we're talking digital here, the plates can be updated through an app or website.  

The trial is set to last through November, at which time Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority will have a better idea of how much the plates will cost. 

Driver-to-driver communication and real-time alerts are intriguing ideas, but the flip side of this modern take on the humble license plate is concerns over security and privacy. 

Since cars can be tracked through the plates, anyone with access to the information can see a driver's activities. Plus, there's the potential for hacking.

Digital license plates aren't the only transportation advancement Dubai has planned. The city is also actively pursuing self-driving cars and drone taxis, with the aim to have a quarter of all trips in the city conducted via self-driving vehicles by 2030. 

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.