Digitalising government services is the first step towards smarter cities

Data, combined with innovative technologies, will help take urban life into the future

Digital Dubai stand at GITEX day 2, Dubai World Trade Centre.  Leslie Pableo for The National
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Across the globe, governments are adopting digitalisation in order to provide residents with user-friendly government services and simultaneously reduce their costs.

The digital transformation of institutions at various levels of government has been accelerated by a multitude of factors, including increasing expectations for convenient access to government services, a growing need to manage service delivery costs and the inability to serve stakeholders efficiently with physical delivery channels.

It is a time of unprecedented change for governments, with population dynamics shifting and budgets reeling from Covid-19 and, in some cases, even ageing infrastructure. Since 2020, Covid-19 has compelled governments, businesses and residents to restructure their daily lives and has brought numerous challenges to government authorities. Governments can overcome these problems while increasing services by digitalising their operations.

By digitising procedures and services, governments can assure sustained, safe operations during any crisis while providing services to residents with several benefits. Thanks to digital services, government institutions can deliver information and services on any device or platform whenever and wherever they are needed.

By efficiently managing digital change, governments can provide their residents with a world-class quality of life, revitalise public trust and increase their countries' competitiveness. As a result, they will be better prepared to deal with future disruptions.

Smart cities combine data, resources, infrastructure and people to continually improve liveability and provide residents and visitors with a quality of life that anticipates their needs and desires.

Employees save considerable time using digital procedures, allowing them to take on new responsibilities resulting in lower costs. A wide range of accessibility options is available, from online digital payment options that allow residents to pay service fees promptly to permit applications that can be submitted electronically and processed quickly.

It is also through accessibility that communities can achieve resilience. Business continuity is guaranteed when records and documents are saved digitally in the cloud rather than on a local server or paper.

At the end of the day, providing accessibility to residents increases efficiency, productivity and cost savings. Government entities will significantly improve operations, budgets, and services by discontinuing paper-based processes and obsolete single-use software and instead investing in a unified, cloud-based platform.

Data can be an essential strategic asset for generating public value in developing, implementing and monitoring public policy. Government entities must use data-based decision-making processes to achieve strategic goals to produce better results, improve efficiency and increase responsiveness.

Smart cities combine data, resources, infrastructure and people to continually improve liveability

Data-led approaches have the potential to build self-governing societal capacities for resilience and adaptation. Government entities taking steps in this direction will result in sustainable success for all, and data-driven governance is increasingly beneficial to empowering communities and building capacity.

As a result of digitalisation, government entities can leverage the digital infrastructure built for digital governance. Consequently, they can support more agile and anticipatory decisions for their residents in an uncertain economic environment.

Creating a digital infrastructure linked to the Internet of Things (IoT) can provide unique opportunities to systematically address difficulties related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to create an equitable, environmentally sustainable and healthy society.

Developing and deploying smart technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques can be critical to ensuring sustainable economic growth and achieving the SDGs.

Autonomous and shared vehicles, adaptive traffic signals and data-driven last-mile mobility solutions will be hallmarks of future mobility networks. With smart mobility, governments can reduce traffic congestion, improve road safety, protect the environment, improve transportation accessibility and affordability, and promote economic growth, while improving quality of life for their residents.

The Department of Municipalities and Transport hosted the Abu Dhabi Smart Cities Summit in 2021 to reshape visions of future smart cities and strengthen Abu Dhabi's pioneering experience in anticipating city developments. The summit brought together government officials, policymakers, smart city and technology pioneers.

Developing a smart city is fundamental to moving the city towards a sustainable future through collaborative efforts. We are continuing with the collaborations forged to ensure the summit's outcomes are implemented.

Smart infrastructure offers a way to harness the latest technologies to obtain maximum value and efficiency and create resilience and sustainability.

To meet residents' needs, DMT has worked extensively to transform municipal services into digital services. It also aligns with Abu Dhabi's vision of improving services and responding to sustainable development needs by delivering modern services to meet customer expectations.

By digitising our services, we ensure the quality and efficiency of our services and improve our residents' quality of life. It also seeks to promote community relations, foster an innovative work environment, increase performance and coordination, and develop measurement and assessment capacities.

In line with this objective, DMT and its affiliated entities recently transferred all their digital services to Abu Dhabi's unified government system, TAMM, which is managed and overseen by Abu Dhabi Digital Authority. It will allow DMT to provide faster, more efficient, and high-quality government services from multiple sectors while lowering the time and effort necessary to conduct transactions, making it easier for users to access services.

Through the Abu Dhabi Digital Twin project, launched at Gitex 2022, Abu Dhabi's physical assets can be updated in real-time, creating an immersive data and visual experience. Using a comprehensive visualisation of infrastructure assets, decision-makers can gain new insights and make better decisions. In addition, it will enable forecasting models to respond to and recover from emergencies, enhancing infrastructure, mobility, and safety in public areas and strengthening the emirate’s resilience.

At Gitex, we highlighted our efforts to develop an effective and sustainable mobility system with self-driving technology and integrate AI into our Intelligence Monitoring Vehicle to deploy a full range of intelligent analytics applications as well as local and remote video surveillance capability to assess road quality, city distortions, sign board quality, and city cleanliness.

Leveraging digital technology, governments must transform their services to establish seamless governance. It is imperative that they continuously improve their digital service platforms to provide integrated services and introduce cost-effective platforms for scalability. The implementation of these measures can help governments deliver quality services that attract international businesses and investments.

Published: October 13, 2022, 4:00 AM