Report: The Government Summit 2015

Dubai played host to one of the largest showcases for government innovation and strategy with the third edition of the Government Summit

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Report: The Government Summit 2015 The Government Summit was held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. ((MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images))
By  Mark Sutton Published  March 11, 2015

Dubai played host once again to one of the leading events for government strategy makers in February, with the third edition of the Government Summit. Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, this year’s summit was organised under the theme ‘Shaping Future Governments’, to discuss the future of government services in the world.

The third edition of the event brought together top level government decision makers from around the world, to discuss issues of vital importance to the public sector. Over 100 speakers and 3,000 attendees from 87 countries participated in 50 sessions over the three days of the event. The high level event covered a wide range of topics, including education, health, empowering women, smart cities and government services.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, HE Ban Ki-moon, gave the main address for the event, highlighting the importance of using technology to engage citizens with government. Ban Ki-moon said that IT solutions can help involve citizens more in developing government services, and in linking government and business for economic growth.

“This communication can actually create an environment wherein citizens are involved with their governments in co-designing solutions. On the back of innovative Information Technology networks and solutions, a society where the government and its businesses come together can be a showcase for sustainable growth, collaborative governance, and economic success,” he noted.

Ban Ki-moon also praised the UAE government for its support for innovation and modernisation.

“I commend the UAE Government and leadership on their vision for the Government Summit, their success in pursuing modernisation while retaining their heritage and culture, and for declaring 2015 as the year of Innovation. I believe this will drive the strategic cooperation of the government and private enterprise,” he said.

Among the other VIPs participants of the event were HE Eng Ibrahim Mahlab, prime minister of Egypt; Boo Keun Yoon, chief executive officer of Samsung Electronics; Professor Klauss Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum; HE Hwang Woo-yea, deputy prime minister and minister of education, Republic of Korea and Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah addressed the gathering via video link.

Among the many speakers on the first day of the summit, Dr Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) Centre for Digital Business, cited Dubai as a leader in successfully harnessing digital revolution by investing in high-tech infrastructure. He warned of the risks for other nations of being left behind and considered uncompetitive if they do not show the same appetite to embrace the potential of the digital revolution to benefit national economies.

Dr Brynjolfsson said: “There is no doubt that we are living in an era of rapid change. The evolution of digital technologies has never been quicker and is only continuing to accelerate. Meanwhile, globally, our skills, organisations and institutions are often lagging behind and failing to adjust to the rapid progress. This will not be solved by adopting a ‘business as usual’ approach and nations should follow the lead of Dubai in considering projects which benefit the economy and people across the full spectrum of society. Only by investing in the future will we avoid a situation where millions of people are left behind.

“In the same way that the industrial revolution transformed the world in the 19th century, the 21st century is being shaped by the evolution of technology on an unprecedented scale. If exploited effectively, this has the potential to create widespread benefits and sustainable wealth across society, although it remains essential to ensure that inequality is avoided.”

The second day opened with an address from Her Excellency Mari Kiviniemi, Deputy Secretary General, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), who discussed the need for greater citizen engagement through new channels of interaction such as open data and social media.

“The OECD countries are witnessing only 40% trust in governments. Governments must need to change their functioning as they face challenges in creating inclusive citizens. In order to achieve this purpose, it is critical to take steps to restore trust in public entities,” HE Kiviniemi said.

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