Interview: Rashed Al Mansoori

How can e-services specifically help the development of the private sector? To what degree is policy being developed with this in mind?

RASHED AL MANSOORI: The development of e-services aids in the development of the private sector on three main levels. First, e-services reduce unnecessary costs and regulatory complications for private firms. Second, they contribute to enhancing market conditions, thus creating a business environment that promotes economic productivity and greater efficiency. Finally, they provide a comprehensive hub for information that establishes uniform rules, regulations and standards that can be referred to at any time. E-services provide swift, readily accessible and reliable automated platforms for facilitating various needs within the life cycle of a business, such as acquiring construction permits and registering property, informing and protecting investors, and helping to resolve disputes.

What is being done to facilitate education and capacity building within the ICT industry?

AL MANSOORI: It is absolutely crucial to effectively educate and train the general public to promote the use of internet and e-government services. Trust plays a key role here. In addition, we have to clearly convey the goals of our e-literacy and e-services programmes and link them to national identity, as well as long-term development goals as specified in the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030. In terms of e-literacy, we are targeting segments of society that stand to benefit the most from improving IT proficiency: housewives, the unemployed, people with special needs and government employees. We are working to identify the skills that are most useful to them and the best ways for them to become IT-confident. Abu Dhabi has excellent ICT infrastructure and it is crucial that people learn to make the most of the availability of smartphone and mobile products, e-government services and e-banking platforms.

To what extent have public-private partnerships contributed to local ICT capabilities?

AL MANSOORI: One of the government’s priorities is to increase and consolidate partnerships with the private sector, a move that could be beneficial to both parties. It is imperative to remain in contact with global organisations to forge and maintain partnerships that enhance local ICT skills and capabilities. For example, we have signed a memorandum of understanding with Esri, the leading international provider of geographic information system software and geo-database management applications, to provide access to key geospatial data and technology.

There has also been collaboration with prominent organisations – such as the Korea Development Institute, Microsoft on IT solutions, Pennsylvania State University and the UN – in sharing expertise and experience in areas such as spatial data to facilitate decision-making, improve national mapping and enhance mobile content delivery.

What new measures are being taken to improve security and limit cybercrimes? How is ADSIC working with other government agencies and departments in this regard?

AL MANSOORI: While it is impossible to guarantee complete security, the system currently put in place provides excellent protection against cybercrimes.

The implementation of education and training programmes has been particularly crucial to achieving these results. In 2012 the policy, standard and supporting guides under the Abu Dhabi Information Security Programme were upgraded to help government entities better understand information security. A continued effort to conduct training workshops on information security planning is under way. This will educate government bodies on the importance of planning against online threats, and will introduce them to the latest tools and techniques to reduce risks and deal with cybersecurity breaches.