Nov 16 2008
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Government's decisive push for bright e-topia
On its website, the World Bank emphasised the significance of e-government because it serves "a variety of different ends: better delivery of... services to citizens, improved interactions with business, citizen empowerment through access to information, or more efficient government management".
The United Nations concurred, saying that e-government can enhance the speed and efficiency of operations, while at the same time reduce costs and improve documentation and record-keeping. The 2008 UN e-Government Readiness Survey ranked the UAE 32nd - the highest among the Gulf states - on a 70-nation list.
Garth Mitchell, English editor of Dubai eGovernment 's web portal (www.dubai.ae), says there has been a major shift from physical services towards e-services.
"If you ask most [web users] in Dubai, you will find their interaction with government has evolved with their use of technology.
"They go online either to dubai.ae or to the respective government website for vital government information, forms, transactions and payments, receive text message alerts and reminders; and if they have complaints, they can use online platforms enabled by Dubai eGovernment ." Mitchell said.
Dubai eGovernment was launched in 2001 under instruction from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in an effort to provide convenient public service to nationals and residents, as well as businesses.
Dubai.ae serves as a single contact point that guides visitors to the services offered by all Dubai Government departments. Mitchell says Dubai eGovernment has grown remarkably, from 14 online services in 2001 to more than 2,000 across 27 government entities today.
"[Except for] some visa and police services that require personal presence... it has become mandatory for all government departments to convert at least 90 per cent of their physical services into e-services," he said.
According to Mitchell, the article 'How to get a national identity card in the UAE' has become the most popular content on dubai.ae. Another widely sought-after service is the e-payment scheme, launched in 2003 with only 205 transactions. As of October 2008, the payment gateway has collected more than Dh800 million, involving 200,000 transactions. Dubai eGovernment aims to collect Dh1 billion from the facility by the end of December.
Dubai.ae will eventually focus on using Web 2.0 tools for implementation of user personalisation/ customisation, Facebook-like collaboration, synergistic services for mobile (mGovernment), e-learning and e-hosting, among others.
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