Dubai's day without its service centres

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Dubais day without its service centres

Published: Wed 25 Oct 2017, 12:43 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Nov 2017, 6:17 PM

The Dubai government made an interesting announcement last month. Service transactions provided by government entities in Dubai will be available only via smart channels tomorrow [October 26] as part of the initiative titled "A Day without Service Centres" to encourage customers to use smart channels to pay fees and complete transactions.
The unique 'A Day Without Service Centres' initiative is approved by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and launched by the Dubai Department of Finance (DOF). It is aimed to encourage customers to turn to smart channels to obtain and complete government services and transactions. All transactions requiring making payments at customer centres operating in Dubai will be stropped for the day. All such transactions can only be conducted through alternative smart channels on that day.
However, the customer service centres will dedicate their efforts on Thursday, October 26, to spread awareness among customers about the importance of transformation to smart channels to do or complete transactions.
The media statement from the Dubai Department of Finance explains the reasons for the unique day: completing government transactions via smart channels helps save customers' time, effort and money by avoiding use of private or public means of transport, and avoiding crowded roads and service centres, thus helping in preserving environmental resources, rationalizing fuel consumption, and reducing carbon emissions.
This initiative, the statement reiterates, is a step forward in achieving the Dubai Vision 2021 and also establish the emirate as the happiest and smartest city in the best country in the world in time for the UAE Centennial 2071.
There, perhaps, is no other place in the region which can confidently push for such a unique day. The UAE in general and Dubai in particular have been the leaders in spearheading e-governance in the region, and beyond.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Dubai, during the launch of the m-government initiative, in 2013, said:  We want to relocate citizen service centres into every citizen device, enabling them to obtain their desired service through their mobile phones anywhere at any time. A successful government reaches out to the citizens rather than waits for them to come to it.
Many government departments in Dubai now allow transactions through their own websites or through automated kiosks placed at their premises or customer service centres.
Today most of the government services are available on smart channels like web portals, mobile apps and kiosks. Services like, electricity and water bill payment, transportation cards top-up, salik top-up, vehicle registration renewal, trademark registration, renewal of trade license, reporting a traffic accident or a lost item can be completed on these smart channels.
At my work level, I have had the opportunity to discuss with various government entities and utility service providers on making their services available with non-human interactions. I have been amazed by their progressive thinking. While making sure an increasing number of their services are made available to customers right on their palm, at a time convenient to them, the entities are continuously on the lookout to increase the efficiency and better customer experiences.
 Over the years, automated kiosks have been installed at various government entity premises including customer service centers.  The beauty of KIOSK is that it not only facilitates the payments of the government services, but it stands as a smart government Centre where customers can apply for many services, issue cards or licenses, and do the KYC process over the KIOSK such as scanning a passport, reading the national ID, getting the finger print, taking photo or any other needed documentation needed for applying a service.
Kiosks are not just about reducing costs. It has been observed that automated kiosks help in delivering services faster and more efficiently.
 I personally see The 'A Day Without Service Centers' initiative as a great step forward by the Dubai Government that will encourage individuals in keeping pace with the UAE's vision of being the smartest city. It will not only reduce the load on unnecessary usage of personnel, it will also ensure correct usage of the online portals.
The initiative, which is expected to become an annual feature, bears the confidence of a government that is digital ready. The government is ready. It is now for the residents to do the catching up. Hopefully, we will.
 The writer is the managing director of KeyBS, the Dubai-headquartered global provider of   integrated product solutions to various sectors including governments, financial institutions and telecom. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.

By Ibrahim Darraz

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