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Exclusive: Real life examples of trends in digital government services for GCC citizens, residents

In recent years, governments in the GCC embarked on a large number of initiatives to enhance government services to citizens, residents, and businesses both at the national level and at the GCC level

Self-service is a strategy to facilitate the access of citizens, companies, and employees to public services Systems integration achieves a single access point for both digital and physical elements Modern web portals act as vehicles for communication between organizations and citizens

By Moussalam Dalati, General Manager in the Middle East at Liferay

The demand for personalized, connected experiences for citizens has seen an increase in the need for digital experience platforms. In recent years, governments in the GCC embarked on a large number of initiatives to enhance government services to citizens, residents, and businesses both at the national level and at the GCC level.

In the UAE, Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA) is driving the digital transformation of the government across key areas including government services, shared government solutions, data and artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and ecosystem & governance.

Bahrain adopted a forward-thinking national Cloud First policy, with the aim of reducing costs, and increasing security, productivity, and agility to improve citizen services. 

The eGovernment program in the UAE is a key initiative of the UAE Government Strategy 2011-2013 that lays the foundation to achieve UAE Vision 2021. According to a survey by Serco Institute, 90% of UAE citizens and residents are happy with government services. Despite this, they want increased digital access, more unified platforms (multiple services accessible from a single app, website, or location), and greater personalization.

The report also said that people felt services could be “generic” and sometimes lacked “attentiveness”.

Liferay has identified 4 key areas to develop the digital evolution in the government of the sector:

1. Self-service as a strategy to facilitate the access of citizens, companies, and employees to public services. Self-service models in the digital field have brought a wide range of advantages to this ecosystem: reduction in the number of calls or face-to-face appointments, freeing up internal resources, and optimizing the available means. Self-service improves response times, reduces maintenance costs, and offers greater flexibility and autonomy for the citizen. 

For instance, one of our navy clients in the US uses Liferay DXP to replace 60 human resources applications with one consolidated solution. Their platform delivers human resources information, education, and training for the 870,000 users, automatically personalizing home pages and permissions by rank and user preferences.

2. Systems integration to achieve a single access point for both digital and physical elements. In addition, avoiding dispersion, and the heterogeneity of information has been one of the keys to reducing barriers to consulting information and using public services.

For example, a client’s government’s website has all the information on, and applications to, federal grant programs. The site uses Liferay DXP to consolidate information from more than a thousand grant programs, scattered across 17 legacy solutions. Liferay DXP’s search capabilities dramatically improve search performance and the overall experience for its four million weekly users. 

3. Modern web portals as vehicles for communication between organizations and citizens. With user profile management capabilities, integration with legacy systems, content management, social collaboration, and as enablers of digitization and automation of processes, these solutions stand as a base for most web projects becoming the main communication vehicle between government entities, citizens, and public servants, enabling the offer of public services.

We have a mobile framework and mobile components library for quickly building and adapting apps for mobile devices. This ensures a consistent user experience across web, mobile, wearable, conversational, and other touchpoints. We have a program sponsored by NASA that is a network of citizen scientists focused on climate and the environment. When the program desired to launch a special project to track a solar eclipse in 2017, developers used Liferay to quickly build a page for its mobile app that lets users capture and upload measurements as they observed the eclipse from their individual locations. 

4. Management of remote and collaborative work environments for citizens. Keeping offshored citizens and residents connected, informed, and at the right productivity rate requires an effective set of tools, an intranet, or an employee portal that supports the critical functions of a digital workforce.  

For instance, Liferay DXP provides a common platform for a school for three education portals: Staff, Student, and Parent, and a single view of an up-to-date student, parent, and school data. This way, it is also easier to personalize content since audience segmentation capabilities make it possible to provide highly targeted information, without the department’s users needing coding skills.

Excellence in experience

The typology of users in the Public Administration is very heterogeneous regarding their levels of digitization and preferences and public bodies must serve both millennials and elderly people, with the same level of excellence in their experiences and regardless of the context in which society lives.

This represents an additional challenge that requires providing a good omnichannel experience through all contact points: in some cases, it will be totally digital experiences, but in most cases, it will be hybrid with the use of several channels (telephone, portals website, administrative windows, virtual offices, etc.).

Future digital strategies in government services

Results of the new GCC E-Performance Index 2021 revealed that the GCC is progressing steadily in its digital transformation with the UAE topping the list.  

In February this year, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the ‘Invest in Dubai’ platform which enables investors to obtain trade licenses and launch their business in only a few minutes.

However, since digital transformation is more of a journey than a destination, efforts to further cement GCC’s position among future-ready economies will have to remain ongoing and evolving.