BUREAUCRACY MADE EASY

UAE, Dubai 2015 | TELECOMS & IT | FOCUS: SMART GOVERNMENT

In line with its Smart City ambitions, the authorities have unveiled revolutionary technology to transform the way that the Emirate's inhabitants and visitors interact with government services.

In March 2014, HH Sheikh Mohammed launched a strategy to transform Dubai into a smart city. The strategy features six key pillars and 100 initiatives on transport, communications, infrastructure, electricity, economic services, and urban planning. Under the strategy, 1,000 government services will go smart in the next three years. By doing so, Dubai aims to create a city that facilitates not only business, but creates an environment that fosters its residents' and visitors' happiness. Key government entities have recognized this mandate and have developed smart service applications accordingly with a common theme of facilitating interactions between government and residents and visitors.

Thousands of residents have already downloaded the Roads and Transport Authority's (RTA) new mobile applications to get taxis, top up Salik, pay parking, renew their licenses, and get live maps and instant traffic updates while driving around the city. In line with Dubai's public transport system playing an ever-increasing role, the Wojhati application provides users a one-stop journey planner. Wojhati helps people to plan their journeys on buses, taxis, the metro, and waterbus. Once people feed in their location and their destination, the app gives the transport options, the journey time, and the total cost. It has also recently been integrated with the Dubai Tram. RTA has also added augmented reality to the app. If a user does not know where the bus stop is or in which direction, he or she can use their phone's camera to scan the location and the app will show them where the bus stop is. The RTA has also developed a Smart Parking application that has only recently been implemented. The Dubai Mall is the first location where drivers are able to select which parking entrance they are considering to park in and the application will inform them the percentage of occupancy of that parking area. The Smart Parking application has even greater aspirations with overall the plan to integrate private parking in Dubai as well as street parking.

With Dubai's DXB airport recently being announced as “the busiest airport in the world” this year, Dubai Customs unveiled, in March 2015, the new “Smart Customs Inspection System.” This system is being hailed as a first of its kind and will greatly facilitate customs inspectors' functions. The system aims to improve the customs experience for air travelers, ensuring smooth and seamless airport procedures. The integrated, multi-function system is capable of recognizing its operator, identifying risk level, recommending the safety level for manual inspection referral, timing the inspection process, generating an inspection end statement (positive/negative), establishing a record of the manually inspected bags, as well as analyzing peak times for manual inspection and creating a passengers' database. With this, Dubai Customs has underlined its commitment to maintaining its position as one of the top customs organizations in the world. The system is also being commended as a landmark achievement within the organization for being a concept wholly developed from within and a leading example of Dubai's Innovation Strategy.

Key to residents' and visitors' happiness, a fundamental objective of Dubai Plan 2021 is to facilitate the interaction between the government of Dubai and the city's inhabitants. In recognition of this, Dubai Smart government has designed the Dubai application for both Android and Apple devices to act as a comprehensive solution for both residents and visitors to access all relevant government services in a one-stop application. Once installed, users are invited to create an account that they can link with their Emirates ID along with electronic payment methods. Users have the opportunity to pay their phone and DEWA bills, pay traffic fines, Salik tariff, plan child vaccination, access live accident information, find school ratings, track Empost shipments, find doctors or clinics, track flight arrivals, find pharmacies, and more.

By boosting its status as a smart city, Dubai hopes to increase its inhabitants' and visitors' quality of life while maintaining its position as one of the most progressive cities in the world.