UAE TRA Marks m-government achievements
The TRA is developing new initiatives and shared services to support the UAE's smart government journey
In the field of mGovernment and smart government, the UAE has emerged as a world leader, with many government entities now offering their services through multiple platforms including mobile devices. Under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, by May 2015, the UAE federal government had made 337 priority services available through mobile devices.
The rapid development of so many smart services did not happen without a concerted and co-ordinated effort, and taking a lead role in enabling the UAE’s adoption of smart government has been the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. The TRA was tasked by the Prime Minister’s Office to oversee the development and implementation of the mGovernment strategy in the UAE, in co-operation with other government entities which formed the main stakeholders namely the Federal Governments, Ministry of Interior, Emirates Identity Authority, the Central Bank, Ministry of Finance and others.
HE Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Director General of the TRA explained: “The first thing we did after Sheikh Mohammed launched the initiative was to meet with all the stakeholders and decide what the next steps were. We held several workshops and meetings, and we analysed the status of eGovernment and mGovernment. The UAE was well developed at eGovernment on the local level, but not on the Federal level; the challenge was to make the same development on the Federal level.”
Following a comprehensive review and analysis of the situation, the TRA developed the first mGovernment roadmap, and based on this, created mGovernment guidelines. These guidelines covered all aspects of developing new services and moving traditional services to mServices; including areas such as usability, accessibility, security, content, design, and functionality.
One of the most important aspects to support smart government development was the creation of shared services that would be required by all government entities. The government entities suffered from a silo effect, with each entity working on their own strategy and services rather than sharing data or integrating efforts.
The challenge was to link these entities together, leading to the development of a federal network, FEDnet, which so far links 42 Federal entities to facilitate data exchange between them to create integrated services. FEDnet has been designed to act as a central hub for connectivity for all federal entities, so that government agencies do not have to create their own connections with other entities or the Internet. By creating a central shared hub, FEDnet frees up the government agencies from having to manage interconnectivity, and also handles network security and reliability.
Another major initiative was the Centre of Digital Innovation (CODI), which was created with several areas of focus — capacity building, consultation, smart applications testing and virtual reality research and development.
The centre offers mGovernment training, to build capacity in the UAE among government employees and job seekers, as well as students. There was a need to train people on what the concepts of mGovernment were, and the TRA developed the first mGovernment training syllabus in the region to address this.
In the field of mobile app testing, CODI has created an mLab, which offers a set of automated, integrated tests via web portal, which tests apps in areas such as platform and device compatibility, security, data privacy, and load testing and performance. Government apps are now tested through the mLab before they go live in the mGovernment app store, the first dedicated government app store in the world.
Al Mansoori commented: “The most important aspect of all is that we orchestrated the development of mobile transformation in the UAE by not only helping entities to develop their services, but also through measuring the advancement of these entities, as per the directives of HH Sheikh Mohammed, to ensure that all objectives for the first phase of government development were met. By May 2015, we were able to report that we had achieved a 96% transformation to mGovernment.”
With the completion of the first phase of the smart government initiative complete, the UAE has now embarked on a new era of smart government, with HH Sheikh Mohammed issuing a directive that smart government should now focus on four key areas of development. The first is connectedness, to integrate and link more government entities and to develop more integrated services. Quality of service is another area of focus, while a target for increased Usage of 80% by 2018 has been set. The ultimate goal of the mGovernment initiative is customer happiness, so the fourth directive is to increase customer satisfaction with government services.