Dubai: Government and industry leaders attending the two-day 4th UAE Public Policy Forum, which opened on Monday, talked about harnessing current and emerging technologies to create an inclusive, human-centred future.
They asserted, to prepare for the future, change should not only be technology-driven but must focus on creating opportunities for everyone, including the leaders, policy-makers and the public.
This means creating a fundamental change in people’s lives and how they live, work and relate to one another.
Sheikh Mansour Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the newly-appointed Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, graced the formal opening of the forum that carried the theme, ‘Agile Government: Becoming Future-Proof’.
Various topics– including happiness and wellbeing, resilience, foresight, and adaptability to international business environment – were discussed by government experts and members of civil society from inside and outside the UAE.
Dr. Ali bin Sabaa Al-Marri, executive president of the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG), said: “The primary objective of the Public Policy Forum is to explore and integrate perspectives, develop sound public policies, and support decision-making in the UAE and the region.”
“The region and the world are in the midst of tremendous economic, social, and environmental transformations – developments that call for new, innovative and agile approach to public policy and government administration to be able to adapt to the requirements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and be prepared for the challenges of the future,” he added.
With regards to creating an agile government and making it future-proof, Huda Al Hashimi, assistant director general for Strategy and Innovation at the UAE Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and The Future, explained: “Agility stretches beyond flexibility and innovation, and covers the whole spectrum of advanced government. We see changing expectations and citizens’ demands of governments are higher. It is not always about being disruptive – it’s about stabilising and being resilient.”
The forum speakers also noted, as the world is being more technology-enabled (according to OECD data, the global mobile phone penetration is around 4.5 billion people), there is a growing concern in many countries about inequality, job insecurity and bleak prospects for future generations.
They asserted, based on these challenges, the focus on creating a better future must be on improving the social systems rather than simply boosting the capability of technologies.
Dr. Saeed AlMatrooshi, secretary-general at Ajman Executive Council, explained that it is about raising the dignity of the human person regardless of race, gender, and cultural background. It is also about working for common interests and ensuring better stewardship of environmental resources.
He added: “The real opportunity is to look beyond technology, and find ways to give the greatest number of people the ability to positively impact their lives.”
Human-centric data governance
As various countries, including the UAE, are boosting the infrastructure for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there is a need to build a human-centric data governance structure that improves transparency between the government and its citizens, according to a digital and systems architect.
Speaking to Gulf News on the sidelines of the 4th UAE Public Policy Forum on Monday, Marten Kaveats, national digital advisor of Estonia, said it is vital to ensure privacy control as well as accountability in the use of public data.
He said digital services is not just about the technology but more importantly “focused on creating a mindset and building a culture of trust.”
He explained in Estonia, they have adopted a system architecture, where data storage is decentralised.
“Currently, 600+ government, municipal and private sector institutions have their own servers and information systems, and these are centrally connected. This version will be make it much more difficult to hack Estonia’s data,” he noted.
He added the system also ensures the citizens have control over which government body or private entity can use and access their personal data. “They can monitor their data and see which data was accessed by whom.”
What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is driven largely by the convergence of digital, biological, and physical innovations, including artificial intelligence, nano technology, sequencing human biology, disrupting transport and manufacturing paradigms; improving smart materials and blurring the boundaries between digital and physical worlds.