Beatrice Thomas asks whether the advance of technology will actually lead to improved services
If you’re reading this opinion piece, there’s a good chance you have internet access.
And if you’re reading it from a smart phone or a tablet device then the chances are just as good that you have a few applications, or apps, downloaded as well.
While they are more than likely a mix of practical apps like banking, social apps such as Facebook and fun apps such as Angry Birds, a whole bunch more are set to become available from the Dubai government sector.
Apps such as mPay, where you can pay bills and fines, a HR self-service app, where people can look into jobs, and even a MyID app allowing users to access all government services, have been rolled out recently.
The RTA, in an announcement at the GITEX conference in Dubai, is also set to launch a taxi app, which detects a customer’s location, allows them to order cabs and track them in real time.
The latter, having used it in other countries, is a winner in this reporter’s books.
So, what does all this e-government mean for the interaction between citizens and authorities?
According to Dr Usman Zafar, country manager, Middle East & North Africa for IT solutions firm ]init[ (yes, this is the real name) all this extra engagement between citizens and the public sector needs to come with a set of rules. For both authorities and users.
Like never before, people can instantly let their governments (and others) know what they think. The Dubai Government knows this – even building a specific app called Suggestions and Complaints to recognise this reality and embrace, not ignore, it.
But, as Dubai moves to become a “smart city”, including with more wifi hotspots in public places, and more apps to interact with residents, the challenge will be to convince people of the merits of dealing with the government online as well as ensuring the apps provide an as good as, if not improved, service.
Would you prefer dealing with government agencies via an app or in another way?