Salem Al Sahir, deputy director-general, eGovernment and Information sector and TRA (centre) along with Jeongwon Yoon, executive director, National Information Society Agency, South Korea(1st left) Richard Kerby, Interregional advisor on e-Government, United Nations USA(2nd left)and Michael Isman, Vice President of Booz, Allen Hamilton Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Salem Al Shair, Deputy Director General of eGovernment and Information Sector at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said that eGoverment and information sector will be focused on “open data,” or making the government sector’s data available to everyone.

“The data that the different governmental departments have we want to avail it electronically, avail it in a format that is reusable so that people can take that data and connect and relate it to other data and produce a service or a benefit to the public,” Al Shair said. “The channels should always be open.”

Bassem Shahin, Content Development Manager at the TRA’s eGovernment sector explained to Gulf News that the TRA which runs the portal Emirates Government is looking to have all data available in excel sheets rather than PDF files for further use by analysts and business developers.

“For instance when the department of tourism put out the coordinates of the remarkable landmarks in Abu Dhabi, one company came and used this data by creating a mobile application that would give a tourist access to where these landmarks are and how far they are from where he/she is,” he said. “This availability of data is what people in Europe call the new oil.”

Social media

Since the launch of the Emirates Government website in 2011, Al Shair and his department have been promoting the use of social media to create a relationship between the different governmental departments and their clients.

“We’ve put a mechanism in place whereby if any official wants to do a Q&A twitter session for example, he needs to be ready and know how it’s done, who should be with him, how he should respond to the questions,” he said. “There also needs to be a follow up, it’s not just a matter of a Q&A and that’s it.”

Al Shair added that having an online presence is a 24/7 operation that needs a strategy. “You need to have a team who knows the details and capable of getting any detail that is needed. You can’t have an outside company handle this for you; you really need to have an inside team that knows the details of your operations and has a really good understanding of what you do.”

Today the UAE is ranked 28th worldwide when it comes to eParticipation, 7th for eServices and 6th for government’s use of social media. “We’ve come a long way, but we can’t slow down,” he said. “We have to keep it up to stay at the top.”