ADDED driving Abu Dhabi Vision 2030
The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development is helping to grow the knowledge economy in the Emirate through supporting business and government entities with smart services
Across the region, many governments are seeking to stimulate growth and economic diversity, through creating knowledge-based economies. Knowledge is now recognised as the driver of productivity and economic growth, leading to a new focus on the role of information and technology in enhancing economic performance.
In Abu Dhabi, the roadmap to the creation of a knowledge-based economy has been set out in the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030; the Government has identified nine pillars which will form the architecture of the Emirate’s social, political and economic future. One of these pillars is to build a sustainable knowledge-based economy, and among the collective cooperation between and all government bodies to achieve the set vision, Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) is playing a major role in leading the efforts.
Subsequently, information technology has a major role to play in assisting ADDED to deliver on the aims of the Vision 2030, according to Abdulaziz Awadh Al Harthi, Director of Information Technology at ADDED: “The emphasis on technology is rapidly increasing globally, hence, we are obligated to constantly keep up with the latest technology, for the IT department, this is our main objective and we are here to support and enable the Emirate to reach its goal.”
One major undertaking of ADDED, in cooperation with Abu Dhabi Systems and Information Centre (ADSIC), was the formation of the ‘Abu Dhabi Business Centre’ (ADBC) which was one of the most strategic initiatives within the e-Government Transformation Program. The ADBC is intended as a state of the art one-stop-shop, where investors and businesses can obtain all necessary G2B services. The ADBC provides a common face for the Abu Dhabi Government to support businesses, from inception to closure. Launched in 2013, ADBC is not a traditional physical existence of different government agencies under one roof, it is a hub for technologically-integrated government agencies with one system to offer well integrated and streamlined smart government services to investors.
Al Harthi explained: “When DED looked into the concept of the Business Centre, we didn’t underestimate the challenge. Previously accessing the various services would have required the investors to physically visit a number of different government agencies, with associated paperwork and multiple procedures and payment points; the new concept faced many challenges and at the same allowed us to use and mix our knowledge and technology strengths to come up with innovative solutions; in accordance with the ADBC main objectives.
“We have introduced for the first time in the region an integrated and streamlined workflow between over 25 government agencies, by electronically linking their systems, procedures, and fees. Furthermore, and based on the IT standards set out by ADSIC, ADDED created an integration layer infrastructure, and worked closely with the various agencies to integrate systems and business procedures. Today the ADBC system connects more than 25 government agencies, with a target of integrating services of 45 government agencies in due course,” he added.
“For commercial Licensing in ADBC, businesses are no longer required to physically visit different government bodies, the systems and workflows are all seamlessly integrated. You can also obtain all required information, documents, and conditions required by related government agencies from the ADBC information desk. The ADBC connects federal and local government agencies, and also offers a unified financial collection system, meaning that investors only need to pay once, and then the various fees are distributed automatically to the various stakeholders. The National Bank of Abu Dhabi is also connected, meaning that businesses can pay licence fees and get licences directly from branches of the bank existing within the ADBC branches.”
After the creation of ADBC, the average time required for processing procedures has been reduced substantially, with transactions, that used to take days completed within minutes.
In order to adequately support all the new integrated services on offer, ADDED also decided to go with a complete implementation of a new data centre and network.
“Our staff designed the data centre according to one of the highest standards in the industry, Tier 3 specification, with a focus not just on performance and connectivity, but also sustainability and security,” Al Harthi said.
“The new data centre has a fully redundant infrastructure, power supplies, generators, cooling system, and it has been designed with sustainability in mind, which meant that we opted for energy efficient in-row cooling, allowing us to keep the temperature at 23c degrees instead of 18c. Additionally, ADDED’s data centre employs an intelligent monitoring system which monitors temperature fluctuations at the rack level, humidity levels in each room, smoke detectors and waterless fire suppression systems. Furthermore, the data centre monitoring solution also monitors fault in all data centre components and generates automated alerts, ensuring prompt incident response and resolution,” he said.
Furthermore, to cater to the different government agencies and partners that are hosted in the data centre, both government, semi-government and private, ADDED designed its new network infrastructure to support multi-tenancy. A dedicated 10Gbps access layer allows organisations to connect to their own Wide Area Networks, and for those organisations that require hosting, ADDED is able to offer an isolated facility within the data centre for hosting. A 40Gbps backbone ensuring proper levels of availability and reliability to support all tenants. The ADDED data centre also includes comprehensive security systems.
The new data centre was completed in 2014, Al Harthi said, and has become a reference site for best practices in data centre for the government. “We ensured that our data centre has enough capacity to meet the requirements of ADDED for the next decade.”
In the process of implementing the ADBC, the power of information and technology came together again as ADDED realised some additional accompanying benefits of integrating so many services. At GITEX, ADDED launched the Abu Dhabi Business Directory (ADBD) which enables clients and investors to search and enquire about businesses in Abu Dhabi. The search engine allows users to search for businesses by name of company, specific sector, location, contact information etc;
“Once you build the right foundation, you can claim unexpected and unlimited benefits, building on the information available within ADBC, and with the use of different technological tools, we were able to leverage on ADBC success and extend and maximize the benefits — additionally the ADBD will be available through multiple channels, including web and mobile,” Al Harthi said.
In line with global trends for smart government, customer’s continuous high expectations, and to improve accessibility and enhance response time, ADDED has also pushed a number of licensing services to mobile, and launched its new mobile apps for iOS and Google Android devices. At present eight services are available through the mobile application, including information on starting a business, trade name registration, licence renewal, fee and fine payment, branch information and ADBD. Al Harthi commented: “Our aim is to increase the number of services on the mobile and to enable our customers to complete the full transaction cycle of licences on the mobile.
“In the light of this digital revolution, the future is undeniably looking bright and challenging — at the same time, resting means falling back and it’s not an option for us,” Al Harthi said. “We must be sharp and keep up our speed at all times with the latest in technologies and to constantly improve on the dynamics and methods to maintain and utilize data and information. Our understanding of what is happening in the knowledge-based economy is constrained by the extent and quality of the available knowledge and our ability to access the latest tools available. If you ask me where we will be in the next 10 years and to what extent we will grow the knowledge-based economy — the sky is the limit,” Al Harthi concluded.