Dubai's six government entities participating in the first phase of the Dubai Paperless Strategy have cut paper consumption by an average of 57 percent, surpassing the 2018 target of 50 percent, and in total preventing the use of about 37 million papers.
The Dubai Paperless Strategy, the first of its kind across the globe, aims for a complete digital transformation across all applicable government transactions, thus, eliminating all need for paper transactions by 2021. When this strategy is achieved, Dubai would have eliminated the use of 1 billion pieces of paper each year, saving 130,000 trees and enough money to feed 4 million children.
"Millions of tons of paper are thrown away as waste every year on account of government transactions. By implementing technological advances by leading world governments, corrective action can be taken positively impacting the environment, saving time and valuable resources. The Dubai Government’s vision of becoming completely paper-free by 2021 is the way forward to ensure a smart and sustainable future," said Ryan Ribeiro, Executive Director of Invoiz FZ LLE.
The Smart Dubai office, attempting to ease people into awareness of the digital technology drive, is implementing the strategy in three phases. For the first phase, the Smart Dubai office started with six governmental authorities – Dubai Police, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Department of Economic Development (DED), Dubai Land Department (DLD), and the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). In the second phase, 10 more governmental entities will be added. The final phase will include the implementation of the fully-fledged smart, paperless government.
The first phase of implementation was completed at the end of 2018, as DEWA and DTCM led the pack with a 60 percent reduction in paper usage.
In addition to its environmental benefits, the paperless strategy is also expected to increase efficiency and flexibility of both the government officials as well as UAE residents. People are gradually beginning to enjoy interacting with the government through smartphone apps such as Dubai Now, which offers up to 55 smart services including utility bill payment options, traffic fine payments, as well as topping up of Salik and Nol cards, among others.
The Smart Dubai office in its latest Happiness Index 2018 report revealed that 90 percent of customers were happy with their interaction levels with government and private entities. Large governmental bodies with the highest customer happiness interaction levels included Dubai Police, DEWA, and the RTA – all of which have embraced the digital drive.
The government's paperless shift could also stimulate digital drives across industries and sectors. The strategy aims to not only make the general public comfortable with the use of smart applications but also aims to encourage businesses and organizations in the UAE take up the challenge.
"Its immediate success has reflected in the positive response we are receiving for our flagship App ‘Invoiz’ – A Paperless Initiative, that gives customers a choice to say no to paper receipts and to opt for digital receipts instead. Dubai’s stature as an innovative city and an advanced technology hub of the world has been at the forefront and leads by example in developing smart solutions to challenging problems, with a clear vision of the future," Ryan Ribeiro said.
Dubai's initiative to go paperless is part of a larger goal called "Smart City Dubai 2021" – to become the smartest city in the world. This is helping drive digital awareness and also helping government officials save valuable time and resources by avoiding the need to go over close to 100 million documents each year. The paperless initiative plans to save 25 million man-hours per year. In addition to its paperless drive, Dubai has also taken a pioneering role in self-driving cars, AI technology, automated ports, as well as the testing of robots and drones.