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Onwani app to help Abu Dhabi residents find their way around

Fature is part of addressing system to uniquely identify locations in emirate

Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News
Omar Al Shaiba makes a presentation during the launch of the Onwani smartphone app in Abu Dhabi.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Finding addresses in Abu Dhabi has become easier with the launching of a brand new smartphone application to get around the capital easily.

Titled Onwani, it was launched today (October 20) by the emirate of Abu Dhabi’s municipal sector regulator, the Department of Municipal Affairs (DMA). It is part of the overall Onwani initiative, which aims to uniquely identify every location in the emirate and make wayfinding smoother.

The new application is expected to be available to smartphone users by the end of this week, DMA officials told Gulf News.

“Despite the availability of numerous other navigational tools, Onwani will be especially helpful for residents as it will include real-time updates for users. In addition, it is packed with information about the city’s streets, the relevance of street and geographical names and places of interest,” said Omar Al Shaiba, director of property and spatial data at the DMA.

The Onwani addressing and location mapping system was introduced by the DMA in 2013 in a bid to make it simpler for residents and visitors to find places in the emirate.

“The benefits are many. [For example], response times for emergency services should be much faster due to the ability to accurately identify and reach locations. In some circumstances, this could mean saving a person’s life or property. The business sector will also grow with more precise wayfinding, as Onwani will speed up the delivery of products and allow companies to access an untapped e-commerce industry,” said Saeed Al Gafili, chairman at the DMA.

One of the primary steps to implement Onwani was the elimination of duplicate and multiple street names.

“The process of naming the capital’s 6,000 streets with culturally relevant titles is almost finished, and it should be completed by the end of the year. In the meantime, we have finished numbering the city’s 70,000 buildings,” Al Shaiba said.

Each building and street sign features a number plate that includes a QR code. The code can now be scanned through the Onwani app, and this provides the user with details about the building, neighbourhood and nearby places of interest.

“Residents can also share the QR code and its accompanying details through social media and messaging platforms like Facebook, Twitter and WhatApp,” the official explained.

The application is integrated with other government applications, such as the Department of Transport’s Darb and the Abu Dhabi Government’s Cityguard. The DMA accordingly organised a workshop today (October 20) for nearly 100 attendees from various government entities in order to familiarise them with the features of the Onwani app.

Al Shaiba added that a street atlas will also be released by the DMA within the next few months.

“This will be available at petrol stations and groceries so that even if your cellphone is out of charge, you can use it to find locations,” he added.

In addition, work will begin this year on implementing the same addressing system in Al Ain and Al Gharbia, and is expected to be completed by early 2017.