Interview: Ahmed bin Humaidan

What types of additional investment in IT infrastructure will be required to address the rapidly rising demand for mobile data bandwidth?

AHMED BIN HUMAIDAN: Customers’ adoption of digital services translates into higher demand for mobile data due to greater usage of ICT infrastructure. This creates opportunities for providers of such infrastructure. In the public sector, the Government Information Network (GIN) exchanges data among more than 50 government entities and provides internet connectivity.

The GIN is flexibly designed to scale-up in the face of increasing demand through modular upgrades. Bandwidth use for government entities’ links to the GIN and to the internet is closely monitored and upgraded to cope with increasing demand, which has been the case recently. In certain areas there has been an increase of 200%. Close monitoring ensures high use of the network and increases return on our ICT investments. Private sector digital services-related ICT infrastructure requirements are handled by telecoms service providers. They are making continuous investments to provide a wide range of services to meet the rapidly rising demand for mobile data bandwidth.

What types of projects and tenders can local and international ICT companies look toward as public investment in smart government continues?

BIN HUMAIDAN: Our smart government strategy emphasises several new focus areas spanning mobile services, cross-governmental connected integrated services, open data, big data, smart technologies and infrastructure. These will require close cooperation with local and international ICT companies. The companies’ contribution will be indispensable for boosting our public sector skills, and for providing innovative services and solutions to meet our strategic objectives.

Our plan entails seven strategic initiatives, 20 strategic programmes and a wide spectrum of projects to be conducted, spanning more than 40 entities and impacting more than 2000 Dubai government services. These projects will create ample opportunities for both local and international ICT companies.

Following digitalisation of government services, what will be the next technological advancement?

BIN HUMAIDAN: The Dubai government has already achieved a high level of maturity in digitising its processes and services through a more than decade-long egovernment programme. Yet technological advances today go beyond the traditional use of ICT by organisations and individuals. We see the diffusion of ICT in the sensors that transmit information in homes, on streets, in critical infrastructure and so on. This creates new opportunities for collecting such information on the spot from different points in the city, and creating value out of it to better serve the constituents. The data collected helps in planning for the future by addressing the challenges the city faces, and providing solutions through better use of resources.

What are the biggest challenges a city faces in attempting to unify an entire portfolio of government entities onto a single platform?

BIN HUMAIDAN: Close cooperation is essential to achieve this. The challenges span human resources, process technology and change management issues. For Dubai, these challenges were encountered and overcome more than a decade ago in the initial stages of e-government. Since then, more than 50 electronic shared services have been implemented in more than 40 government entities.

Today, government entities use a shared electronic payment gateway transacting more than $1.6bn annually; a shared network connecting more than 50 entities; a shared SMS messaging gateway sending more than 120m messages annually; and a single government resources planning shared system to conduct all human resources, financial administration and supply chain management processes in more than 40 entities, and manage over 95% of the government entities’ budget.