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.”
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.