| 09 October, 2017

Gitex 2017: Dubai looks to blockchain to speed up government processes

Technology being considered for processes including issuing trade licenses, registering doctors and enrolling students

Blockchain network concept. Image for illustrative purposes.

Blockchain network concept. Image for illustrative purposes.


The Dubai government is investigating how it can use blockchain to improve the delivery of about 20 different government service functions, according to the head of the Smart Dubai initiative.

Dr Aisha bint Butti Bin Bashr, the director-general of Smart Dubai told Zawya during an interview at its stand at the Gitex Technology Week exhibition on Sunday that it has been developing 'use cases' for implementing blockchain to record and share data between government departments, with a view to making processes such as issuing trade licences quicker and simpler.

The move follows in the footsteps of an announcement on Saturday by the Dubai Land Department that it is now completing all of its activities through the blockchain system.

"We've scanned almost 20 mega experiences in our city and put a full roadmap into transferring these experiences on top of blockchain," she said, adding that in real estate every step involving government-facing services, from brokers registering an ad for selling a property until buyers registering their ownership, is now recorded through a blockchain ledger.

"In that experience, many sectors are involved - the financial sector, real estate sector, municipality sector, the energy sector and also individual registration authorities like  eDNRD (the online registration body for Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners’ affairs). So all of them are already utilising the blockchain." Bin Bishr said that some of the use cases under development include digitising the process used to obtain residency visas and facilitating the use of electric vehicle charging stations, including the potential to sell power back to the grid.

"There is a use case for energy, a use case for health, and many and many [more]," she said.

A display on the Smart Dubai stand spelled out some of the other use cases, which include the licensing of doctors, the issue of e-prescriptions in healthcare, enrolling students into schools and colleges, tracking the lifecycle of motor vehicles, issuing wills and securing notary services.

Bin Bashr said "we want to re-engineer the whole process" of issuing trade licenses, which currently involves a number of government bodies, including the Dubai Economic Department, Dubai Municipality and the Department of Naturalisation and Residency for worker visas, among others.

"Now, we are studying a use case to convert it, but re-engineer the whole processes and to eliminate whenever there is any paper consumption," she said, citing the Dubai government's plan to have entirely paperless processes by 2021.

From a consumer point of view, she also said that the range of services offered through the Dubai Now app have been extended to 57, provided by 25 government and non-government bodies. One of the new services allows registered users to fill up and pay for fuel at ENOC stations via the app. Location services know which station a user is at, and they then just need to select the pump they wish to use to unlock it and pay for fuel.
Smart Dubai has also provided guidelines to developers looking to build new districts - or upgrade infrastructure at existing ones - so that they fit into the smart infrastructure network being developed across the city that is already providing real-time information on things such as water and energy usage, she said. "Today, we have two districts - Design District and Silicon Oasis, they are fully compliant with our guidelines," Bin Bishr said. "And these guidelines have become very popular globally. Cities like Stockholm showed interest in using our guidelines. It is open on our website for anyone to download and see."

© ZAWYA 2017