Rabail Abbas (February 25, 2014)
Already well known for its affluence and grandeur, the Emirates is now all about maintaining citizen-centricity. Serving citizens has become the government’s prime concern as reflected by the second government summit recently held in Dubai. Innovative solutions surfaced as important delegates and ministers gathered from all around the world at the summit. The plenary sessions, workshops and ministerial discussions turned out to be quite productive in customer service solutions as the three-day summit wrapped up earlier this month. The crux of the meetings was to veer off from inconsistent service practices and to adopt smarter, efficient and innovative ways to serve the citizens. Customer service clearly lies at the core.
The first summit of this kind was held in 2012 under the theme “Towards Excellent Government Services.” Keeping all discussions in line with the UAE Vision 2021, both of the summits were about improving citizen-centricity while introducing excellent practices in the public sector. Smart government, which has been UAE’s main concern for quite a while, was also discussed. Some of the important highlights of the government summit 2014 are as follows:
The launch of the website ‘Ehtmam” by Shaikh Mohammad was a significant part of the event. This website aims to connect constituents with the government where communicating ideas and filing complaints could be done with just a few keystrokes. According to a recent poll by Accenture consultancy, the UAE topped citizen satisfaction with digital government. The initiation of this website reinforces how an open door policy still prevails in the UAE as Emiratis will be in direct connection with their leaders. Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs said, the site will “allow members of the UAE society to cooperate in proposing new ideas and initiatives.”
Hospitality services were also discussed in the session called “Five-Star Customer Service: What Governments Can Learn From The Hospitality Sector.” Gerald Lawless, President and Group CEO of Jumeirah Group said, “We have three hallmarks in our industry. These are: Always greet guests with a smile before they greet you; first response should never be ‘no’; treat each other with respect and integrity as guests are aware of their surroundings.”
Dubai Government Initiative 2021 was also launched at summit. Shaikh Hamdan presented his 2021 vision for improving citizens’ life with the help of technology, which is all about creating a single-window system for the citizens to access government services.
Smart Mobility was discussed at the summit. Implementation of smart systems and regulatory laws for cars were looked upon as possible solutions to curtail traffic load in the UAE, as put forward by Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). “The RTA will have more than 200 mobile services for the convenience of people by the end of 2015,” he said.
There was also a session about future transport as to how car manufacturers were trying to come up with automobiles that can drive, deliver, refuel and park all by themselves. Robots with 360-degree cameras would help reduce accidents. Also displayed was the driverless Google car. RTA is already investing €100 million on modernization and improvement.
The role of private sector in improving government services was discussed in a session called “Optimising Government Service: The Potential of Public Private Partnerships.”
Smart government was high on the agenda. However, Mohammed Al Ghanim, director general of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said, “The customer is at the core of the smart government. The priority in the shift towards a smart government is to create the infrastructure that enables customers to meet their service requirements swiftly and smoothly using their mobile phones.”
According to Al Mansoori, Director General of Abu Dhabi Systems and Information Centre, mobile users highly prioritised seven things. “People want to pay car fines, renew ID cards, pay utility bills, licence renewal, health card renewal and pay for parking using their mobile phones,” he said and also that UAE has progressed a lot in terms of smart government.
Moreover, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, put forward his vision of smart government in 2021 with a video. Automated tools for the citizens to gather residency status, traffic updates and even their children’s performance in schools were shown in the video.
Education in the GCC was also subject of discussion where Smart Learning and e-Learning were keenly talked about. However, the role of teacher was still considered extremely vital for coaching and guiding the students.
Taking up Government 3.0 was also considered as an important step. Government 3.0 would be entrepreneurial in nature where citizens would collaborate with the government. According to the founder of World Economic Forum, Professor Klaus Schwab, government 3.0 is the next form of government. He said, “Just like the iPad platform of Apple, the Government 3.0 will provide the framework, and citizens will put the applications that they need and want,” he noted.
UAV (drone) deployment was also discussed as something promising for efficient service delivery. These vehicles would be used for traffic and infrastructure monitoring and delivering government documents. Moreover, a million-dollar prize competition for best-designed drones has also been announced already.
For healthcare services, customers would now be able to contact qualified doctors in real time through du’s Wellness and MD24/7 apps. The company’s cloud infrastructure would enable faster and cost-efficient services while its Managed Security Services will help manage risk and increase.
As told by Dubai Crown Prince, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid al-Maktoum in his address titled “Dubai Government: Towards 2021,” UAE’s future government is all about innovation, customer satisfaction and best service delivery and the summit is a huge step towards dealing with future challenges in state-run services.
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