The UAE needs to increase the amount of open data that is available online to improve its e-government ranking globally and increase citizens’ engagement level, an expert said.
According to the recently released UN e-government survey, the UAE’s ranking in the e-government data index fell to the 32nd position in 2014 from 28th position in 2012, indicating a dearth of information available online.
“What is going to push up the government rankings are increased interaction with the citizens and businesses,” Richard Kerby, senior interregional adviser on e-government and Knowledge at the United Nations said at the sidelines of an event.
“That is the essence of e-government as it puts the citizens at the centre of the government.”
He added that the government should make reusable data such as public reports available online since it would help citizens and other global organisations.
“It is all a matter of volume and content that is online. It is the volume that is keeping the country down and not the individual’s ability to access data,” explained Kerby.
The UAE is working to increase the amount of open data online, said Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, UAE mGov director.
“We already have a portal for the open data but there is room for enhancement and to increase its importance,” he said.
“The data (that needs to be made available) is usually gotten from different entities and what we require right now is the willingness from such entities to share data. We are educating them about the need for open data.”
In the UN survey, the UAE ranked quite high at the 12th position for online services out of 193 countries.
“The overall score for online services, which looks at e-services such as open data, social media and e-participation was actually higher. So (the UAE) did better in 2014 but other countries did even better and that is why the ranking went down,” Kerby said.
The UAE government is rapidly moving towards becoming a ‘smart’ and ‘mobile’ government, with plans to offer all services through smartphones within the next few years.
It recently launched a YouTube channel that details its official services and highlights the initiatives and awareness campaigns of ministries and federal departments. The UAE also recently unveiled a smart government app store containing 100 government apps, which offer 700 customer services.