Government must go to people: Mohammad

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

Dealing with government services was once something one didn’t look forward to. The long queues and paperwork one had to overcome was enough to test the patience of the most tolerant. However, with Saturday’s announcement that more than 96 per cent of the government’s most important 337 departments had successfully transitioned their services to electronic format, it seems that the days of plodding between government centres are behind us.

The two-year deadline to implement Smart Government services, set by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, ended yesterday. Shaikh Mohammad praised the Smart Government team, which was dedicated to supervising and facilitating the Dubai Government move to a smart government, and called this phase of the transition a success. “Next we must increase user satisfaction and raise usage to 80 per cent by 2018,” he said.

As part of the Smart Government initiative, more than 2,000 government services were set to be available through mobile and electronic mediums.

“The most important change that was taking place over the two past years was the change of mentality, the culture of government services and the archaic definition,” Shaikh Mohammad said. “Today, delivery of services no longer relies on buildings and thousands of employees but on advanced systems and innovative minds. In the near future, we will see yet bigger and faster changes.”

Several important initiatives were launched as part of the Smart Government programme, including MyID, which allows a single ID access for customers to all Dubai Government smart services across different departments. Among other services are the development of ePay and mPay gateways, and opening up the eComplaint channels for citizens and residents.

As part of the same initiative, Shaikh Mohammad also launched the happiness meter recently, which was activated earlier this month in 14 government departments.

Gulf News takes a look at a few of the Smart Government applications that gives us the luxury of overseeing and finalising government transactions from the comfort of our homes.

Ministry of Labour

The Ministry of Labour smart app has already seen over 133,000 downloads and boasts an 86 per cent customer satisfaction rate. According to the ministry, customers using the app said the average completion time of its transactions, including cancellation and renewal of work permits, takes about three minutes only.

Employers can access services including ones related to the inspections sector and work permit fee payments or cancellations. They can also register complaints against absent employees, as well as view transactions which are on hold. The smartphone application also allows workers to check their employment contracts, file a complaint for not receiving their salary, two services that are provided through ‘eNetwasal’.

Nabeel Al Zarouni, Deputy Director of the IT Department at the Ministry of Labour, said: “Statistics show that renewing work permits is the most commonly used feature of the app, followed by payments for obtaining work permits, retrieval of bank guarantees, and updating data of work permits and trade licences.”

Dubai Airports

The Dubai Airports app, which was launched in 2014, offers automatic and customised updates on flights, including gate changes or boarding times. The app, which has over 60,000 users, also boasts other useful features such as the Flight Radar 24 flight tracking service and 3D airport maps, which can be used to pinpoint all services, food and beverage and retail areas at both Dubai airports.

The revamped site mirrors the passenger’s journey through airport facilities from kerbside to the gate and provides information before passengers even arrive at the airport. The website’s clean and intuitive design and “Journey Genie” allows passengers to customise the information they receive to their own specific flight.

General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs

The GDRFA app allow users to apply for visa renewals, access M-Visa services, and elicit answers for their queries on general visa issues.

Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, Director of the GDRFA, said a month ago that 85 per cent of the GDRFA’s services are already accessible through electronic mediums and 55 per cent as smart services.

“Most of our services are already accessible via smartphones,” he said. “The GDRFA app is available for download via the Apple Store or Android’s Google Play.”

The GDRFA app allows users to apply for M-Visa services in which a customer’s mobile phone becomes an enabling device to replace the original visa. The app also generates a barcode which can be scanned through Smart Gates and employees at Dubai Airports and is aimed at expediting passenger movement.

Emirates ID Smart Services

Emirates Identity Authority’s app helps all UAE residents manage their national ID cards — a mandatory document to prove their identity and to carry out many official transactions.

Residents can register for their IDs and apply for renewal through the app when 30 days remain for ID expiry. The app also sends notification to its user, informing them when their ID is due to be renewed. Once a user has applied for a new ID, he can track the status of the card, check status of applications and track the card issuance.

The app also features a detailed map, which shows the location of Emirates ID registration centres and typing centres.

Timeline

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launches the Mobile Government initiative in May 22, 2013 marking a new era in the UAE’s development march.

  • May 25, 2013 Ministry of Education starts to send school results through text message to high school students in the UAE.
  • June 11, 2013 Dubai Municipality’s Survey Department urges residents to use the latest government weather apps on smartphones and tablets to prevent road accidents.
  • June 12, 2013 The ad hoc committee at the Executive Committee of the emirate of Abu Dhabi adopts a programme titled ‘Hares Al Madina or City Guard’, a channel for the public to interact with the government of Abu Dhabi in spotting erroneous conduct.
  • February 11, 2014 UAE Ministry of Interior introduces a free smartphone app, Hemayati (my protection), to help parents keep tabs on their children.
  • February 26, 2014 A government app store, an innovation centre, a federal electronic network (FedNet) and a centralised management forum are among initiatives undertaken to implement the UAE’s mGovernment project.
  • March 05, 2014 Dubai government launches the Smart Dubai strategy to transform the city into the smartest in the world in three years.
  • March 16, 2014 Nol and Salik top-up will be among 170 mGovernment services by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to be launched on mobile platforms by May 2015.
  • March 27, 2014 The new UAE Smart Government App is officially launched. It provides access to 100 apps offering 700 customer services.
  • April 01, 2014 A newly updated version of the Dubai Police mobile application is the highest-rated government app in the UAE. The app has 28 traffic, security and community services. The most recent feature is the ability to send photos of vehicles violating traffic rules.
  • August 02, 2014 With more than 50,000 downloads, the app by the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments (Awqaf) is also highly rated, especially as it provides accurate prayer times and written versions of the Friday sermon each week.
  • August 06, 2014 The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA) unveils a package of new smart services which Emiratis, residents and companies can access on their smartphones and tablets.
  • October 13, 2014 Dubai launches a smart decision support system called ‘Qarar’, which means ‘decision’ in Arabic, to improve and speed up decision making, as part of the emirate’s ongoing efforts to shift to smart government.
  • April 22, 2015 Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum reminds the officials of the federal government departments until the end of May 31 to transform all their services into smart services.
  • April 27, 2015 Dubai Smart Government launches mJobs for the job seekers to look for suitable vacancies and apply for Dubai Government jobs through a single app.
  • April 29, 2015 Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) offers 173 services, from looking for a parking spot to applying for a distinguished number plate or getting vehicle registration renewed, through mobile apps to help Dubai residents complete transactions online.
  • May 02, 2015 Dubai Health Authority has transformed all its electronic services to smart services. It will benefit health-care professionals, health-care facilities, suppliers, medical students and patients.
  • May 10, 2015 Residents and visitors to Dubai will soon be able to use free WiFi at more than 200 locations in the city.

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