ADSIC sets strategy for Abu Dhabi’s future
Abu Dhabi Systems and Information Centre is developing the road map for Abu Dhabi’s digital transformation
The development of e-government is an ongoing process, as new technologies enable new capabilities, and as governments create new and better smart services. As the potential and priorities of e-government evolve, so do the strategies that guide these services.
For the government of Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Systems and Information Centre (ADSIC) announced its new and improved e-Government strategy during the sixth edition of the Abu Dhabi e-Government Forum last June. The new strategy primarily centres on achieving multi-modernization of government services across multiple channels, through the development of integrated services for all users across the Emirate, to improve services and efficiency, and increase customer satisfaction.
While the strategy is underpinned by the latest technological advancements, Dr Ahmed Al Hashimi, Senior Manager, e-Government Services, ADSIC, noted that the focus is on the customer: “I want to stress that we are customer and end user driven, we are not technology driven, our main goals and KPIs are about customer satisfaction. When we talk about modernisation of IT, and integration of multiple services, public and private, it is to give the end user the best services possible. Our goal is to take the government services to the best international level possible.”
In developing its new e-government strategy, ADSIC has looked closely at technology innovation, and what new technologies can enable, and it has also focused on empowering its customers, users, employees and other government entities to share their requirements and feedback in order to develop services that will meet and exceed requirements.
The major strategic focus areas have been in creating integrated services across different government departments, but also to ensure that services are easy to use, accessible and simple for government interaction.
“A great example of integration is the Abu Dhabi Portal (abudhabi.ae) which is the Abu Dhabi Gateway and mobile app, which streamlines public services through a single access point. At present, the Portal offers more than 1,100 governmental services,” Al Hashimi explained.
A large part of ADSIC’s activities to date has been to co-ordinate the efforts of different government entities, and develop shared platforms for them to use. The combination of new technologies, international best practices and knowledge transfer benefits all of the Abu Dhabi Government in creating new service channels, he added. For examlple, ADSIC is developing the Abu Dhabi Government Cloud platform, which will use cloud technology to provide services to government departments.
Another good example of ADSIC’s expertise in shared services is the pioneering Abu Dhabi Spatial Data Program (AD-SDI). Launched in 2007, the SDI is a geographical information system (GIS)-based program that aims to give Abu Dhabi government entities powerful tools to visualize and analyse data based on a fully-integrated geographic platform. The system has been developed in partnership with US-based Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri), and at present around 70 Abu Dhabi government organisations are using the system.
“The SDI is a good example of a public/private relationship, where we are in collaboration with an international leader in this field, Esri,” Al Hashimi said. “The goal of the SDI is to provide a fully-integrated geographical platform to help our decision makers to plan multiple aspects, from economic/industrial aspect, and it is also designed to help end users through servicing from government entities — for example the NOC program, developed in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Department of Municipal Affairs (DMA) and other key government entities which is a one-stop-shop for end users that allows them to apply for building permits, for example, from one unified, advanced platform.”
Building a sound and realistic e-government strategy is an important foundation of enabling Abu Dhabi to become a smart city, Al Hashimi added, and is an important component of supporting Abu Dhabi’s Vision 2030 for a sustainable knowledge-based economy. The integrated government services are a major step in creating this foundation.
Another important area of focus for ADSIC is innovation, Al Hashimi explained: “As for the future development of innovation, we consider it as one of our key priorities for 2016 and beyond, as we believe that the ICT sector cannot grow and diversify without the advent of innovation in everything it does. Over time, the emphasis on innovating will create new and improved avenues in which end-users interact with public services, while encouraging innovation from the heart of each organisation.”
Mobility is another vital part of delivering convenient, secure and easily accessible government services. At GITEX 2015, ADSIC launched the Abu Dhabi Services Gateway, which is designed to allow individuals and corporations to access all of their government service requirements. Abu Dhabi Services covers multiple domains with more than 25 government services integrated into the app already, and more being added.
ADSIC has also developed Jobs Abu Dhabi since its launch in 2008, to strengthen its position as the best employment channel in Abu Dhabi, where its services are classified as the best recruitment services to citizens and residents and created Jobs Abu Dhabi mobile app, which aims to connect job seekers from Abu Dhabi with employers in the public and private sector who are looking to recruit personnel. The portal and app includes features for all parties, including talent searching, job listing, CV hosting and so on. Over 1,400 employers and 700,000 job seekers have used Jobs Abu Dhabi across all platforms, and there have been nearly 90,000 downloads of the app in just one year.
Another example of digital channels to government is the Abu Dhabi Government Contact Centre ‘800555’; which provides a single point of contact for many users. Another channel is the CityGuard mobile app which allows the public to report incidents and submit complaints related to Abu Dhabi directly to the government by taking a photo, video or audio of the reported incident and use an embedded interactive map to locate the exact geographic position of the incident. CityGuard aims to increase civic participation and collaboration between the public and the government in order to improve the Emirate at all levels.
At the heart of all ADSIC’s efforts is the desire to engage the end user, and to give them better services, Al Hashimi said. At present the organisation is evaluating its customer portal for customer interaction, to identify any pain points or areas where customer interaction could be made easier, with the aim of launching a new, streamlined experience.
ADSIC is also adopting the latest technology for user experience (UX) testing, to ensure that Abu Dhabi government websites meet the latest standards. Among the methodologies in use are heat maps to detect which areas of a website is used most, eye-tracking to show what a user looks for on a page, and other focus groups, benchmarking and testing to understand user behaviour.
This desire to deliver usable services extends to users with special needs, Al Hashimi added: “We have developed accessibility guidelines that will help the whole of the government of Abu Dhabi, we have shared this with our sister entities so they can implement solutions accordingly, and we have taken multiple steps ahead of those guidelines. In terms of direct accessibility-related options, currently we are working on improving our portals for sight and hearing impaired individuals.”
The final part of the strategy for ADSIC is to create awareness among potential users. ADSIC runs an e-Citizen program, with the aim of bridging the digital divide and directly reaching out to citizens to provide them with ICT skills and training; along with other awareness programs. The e-Citizen program has connected with over 4,000 people so far, across the Emriate and targeting a broad range of social segments including retirees, housewives, the elderly, job seekers and people with special needs. Training includes raising awareness of cyber threats and sound cyber security practices, as well making users more familiar with online services to encourage user uptake.
“I don’t want to underestimate the importance of the e-citizen program, there has to be a bridge between technology and those who know how to use it — what is the benefit of having the latest device if you don’t know how to use its features?” Al Hashimi said. “One of our main objectives is to ensure that we decrease this gap, by disseminating multiple training programs to specific targeted users.
“We need to learn from the end users and understand their requirements then tailor and adapt our solutions to meet these needs and requirements. Using e-services requires a change, maybe someone is used to doing their business with the government manually, but they don’t realise that they can save time and effort by doing it online automatically. I encourage change, I encourage people to try, to understand that this is the next step of using government services moving forward.”