Dubai: Every time you pay your water and electricity bill online in Dubai, you are helping save money, paper and trees. By supporting the 100 per cent paperless strategy of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), residents have helped save Dh88 million, 22 million papers and 2,000 trees.
A top official told Gulf News that in 2022 alone, DEWA completed over 10 million digital transactions.
DEWA has made massive achievements as Dubai continues its march towards becoming the world’s smartest city, Mohamed Obaid Alsharid, chief digital officer at DEWA, told Gulf News in an interview.
DEWA provides all its services through its website and smart app on the iOS, Android and Huawei platforms, in addition to many digital channels. It is also the world’s first digital utility utilising autonomous systems for renewable-energy, storage, expansion in artificial intelligence (AI) adoption and providing digital services.
The utility authority recently also announced achieving the first place worldwide in the International Digital Customer Experience Standard which is presented by the International Customer Experience Institute (ICXI) in collaboration with the British Standards Institute (BSI).
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How are customers benefitting?
Explaining how Dubai residents have been benefitting from DEWA’s digital initiatives, Alsharid said: “Our customers have praised our digital services for helping them reduce electricity and water consumption and limit waste and leakages.”
These include the ‘Smart Living’ initiative, which uses a proactive mechanism in interacting with customers who have smart electricity and water meters, enabling them to monitor their consumption through their Smart Living dashboard and obtain annual, monthly, and daily consumption reports.
“The initiative raises customer awareness about billing and consumption by providing clear information about bills and their main components and clarifying reasons for increased consumption,” he added.
Alsharid said DEWA won the Hamdan bin Mohammed Programme for Government Services Flag 2020, for the initiative that enables customers, through the ‘My Sustainable Living Programme’ to compare their consumption with that of similar homes, and to benefit from the offers on ‘DEWA Store’ to enhance consumption control and the use of energy and water saving devices.
“Additionally, through the ‘Away Mode’ service, customers can receive daily and weekly email reports when they activate the service or when they are on vacation. Moreover, DEWA provides the High-Water Usage Alert under the ‘Smart Response’ initiative to help customers detect leakages in water connections after the meter. The initiative also includes an auto-scheduling feature to make an appointment for a technical team visit with real-time updates.”
DEWA has also added a ‘call back’ feature through smart channels for customers to schedule a call with a DEWA agent. The Self-Assessment tool includes a survey on electricity and water consumption for customers to assess their consumption and learn about different ways for conservation. “After completing the assessment, customers receive a detailed report on their consumption, in addition to customised tips to reduce waste and consumption,” said Alsharid.
The Paperless Stamp
In March 2021, DEWA received the 100 per cent ‘Paperless Stamp’ from Dubai Digital Authority, in recognition of its success in implementing the Dubai Paperless Strategy.
“This achievement results from DEWA’s efforts to achieve the directives of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, to achieve the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, to transform the Government of Dubai into a fully digital government and build an integrated, paperless government framework,” said Alsharid.
This is part of the Dubai Paperless Strategy, which was launched by Sheikh Hamdan to stop the use of paper in all internal and external transactions with customers.
DEWA also ensured its cooperation with other entities to provide seamless digital services for customers. “We have completed the digital integration of more than 70 projects with government and private organisations,” said Alsharid.
These organisations include Digital Dubai Authority, Dubai Municipality, the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai Land Department, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai Economy and Tourism Department, as many as 30 banks, Etisalat, du, ENOC, EPPCO, Noqodi wallet, Western Union, and Empay.
“Through this step, DEWA makes it easier to get a wide range of digital services, including bill payment, information update, activation of electricity/water (Move-in), housing fees adjustment, refunds, and updating trade licenses, among other services,” he explained.
How DEWA made it happen
Talking about the main achievements of the paperless strategy and DEWA made it happen, Alsharid said DEWA was one of the first government organisations to complete its smart transformation since 2014, and the smart adoption rate of its services reached 98.99 per cent until the end of 2022.
“Having shifted all its services to digital channels, DEWA has enabled is customers to get its services round the clock, ensuring their peace of mind and enhancing their happiness as well as protecting the environment and natural resources and reducing their carbon footprint.”
Alsharid listed the following among the initiatives that helped DEWA go completely paperless.
- DEWA’s smart app and website
- The digital integration between DEWA and more than 30 public and private entities
- Cashless initiative
- Stopping the use of printers and converting all paper transactions to digital
- The use of the Smart Office app that was launched for the top management in 2012 and was made available to all employees in 2016, and the Smart Document that was launched in 2018 for employees.
“These two apps constituted a major shift in how services are provided, as they provide employees complete flexibility to work remotely. DEWA also transformed all its customer happiness centres into self-service centres, and became the first government organisation to allow its customers to conduct all their transactions themselves using smart devices at the customer happiness centres. Customers can also communicate with DEWA staff from different divisions through video,” said Alsharid.
Using AI, Robotic Process Automation
Employing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has also helped DEWA implement the paperless strategy.
“DEWA’s RPA projects automate business processes to reduce repetitive and routine tasks. The RPA includes several initiatives such as the automation of server vulnerability status updates, data caching service monitoring of DEWA’s virtual AI employee, Work Clearance Application (WCA) process, GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Monitoring System, Bank Guarantee Statement (bank offers), and Domain Naming System (DNS) Scanning,” said Alsharid.
There are also other projects and initiatives in DEWA that use AI, he said.
“DEWA was one of the first government entities that took the initiative in 2017, to transform its centres into Future Customer Happiness Centres to provide an unconventional model of digital services. In Q4 of 2020, DEWA launched the concept of a “Universal Service Centre”, which reshapes the future of services, and relies entirely on self-services, as it provides a fully digital experience that provides more comprehensive and safe digital services for customers.”
AI for customers
The centre uses the latest AI technologies and interactive digital solutions to enable customers to communicate remotely with representatives of the relevant divisions and departments, such as Finance, Human Resources, Contracts, Procurement, Legal Affairs, and others.
“Thanks to its use of AI technology, the Customer Care Centre, which is managed by Moro, a subsidiary of ‘Digital DEWA’, the digital arm of DEWA, learns about the caller’s account and the account status to arrange the list of options accordingly to ensure a quick response and efficiently meet customer needs. The centre also includes a smart system to analyse the emotional state of the customer, in addition to an advanced system for analysing incoming calls.. This enables DEWA to set development plans and take the necessary decisions accurately and quickly to raise the level of customer happiness and improve their experience,” said Alsharid.
The Cyber Defense Centre at DEWA, Asset Performance Management App, Distribution Asset Criticality Ranking system, Automated Power Restoration App, Digital Twin Gas Turbine Intelligent Controller, AI Procurement in a Box toolkit, Power Block App, One-Way Data System, Smart Power Plant, Operation and Strategic Planning Improving System, Simulator and Training Centre and the Forecast PV Panel Production System.
DEWA’s digital services: At a Glance
- Cyber Defence Centre at DEWA: The Cyber Defense Centre at DEWA uses AI and Big Data to detect potential security risks and reduce the time to respond to incidents.
- Asset Performance Management: The app manages key equipment at the Jebel Ali Power Plant and Water Desalination Complex using AI and cloud platforms.
- Distribution Asset Criticality Ranking (DACR): This system uses AI to digitise the criticality ranking of energy distribution assets for 34,000 transmission substations.
- Automated Power Restoration Application: The app automatically locates the technical fault, isolates the affected network sections, reconfigures the network and restores the electrical supply automatically and without human interaction.
- GT Intelligent controller: The Digital Twin Gas Turbine (GT) Intelligent Controller uses thermodynamic, AI, and machine learning to control gas turbines at M-Station in Jebel Ali, the largest power generation and water desalination plant in the UAE. It improves turbine efficiency, increases its generation capacity, and reduces fuel consumption and harmful emissions.
- AI Procurement in a Box toolkit: DEWA collaborated with the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution UAE (C4IR UAE), to launch AI Procurement in a Box toolkit. The toolkit provides advanced mechanisms for government procurement of AI technologies.
- Power Block app: DEWA and Siemens have started a project to develop the smart Power Block app for the power station as a prototype on a larger scale. The app depends entirely on AI techniques as well as modern thermodynamic science.
- One-Way Data System: DEWA has received an international patent for its One-Way Data System, which was designed and implemented internally to ensure the security of data transmission from power and desalination stations to a shared platform. This builds a knowledge base for decision-makers, enabling them to access data through smart devices.
- Smart Power Plant: DEWA’s Smart Power Plant is a centralised information system that automatically gathers data from control systems in real-time and is capable of functions such as watering plants using the One-Way Data Device. The operational system is clear and comprehensive, allowing quick analysis and fast decision-making to improve performance and prevent potential mishaps.
- Operation and Strategic Planning Improving System: The system manages operational performance. It was developed using data science to improve the performance of the power generation units and thus improve efficiency.
- Simulator and Training Centre: The centre enhances the capabilities of engineers and technicians at DEWA. It enables trainees to experience real-life conditions and provides them with the skills needed for dealing with different circumstances.
- Forecast PV Panel Production System: The system relies on modern technologies such as 3D cloud systems, AI, deep learning, high-density cameras on the main satellite and a network of metrological stations to predict irradiance, dust and cloud movement, which can affect PV performance.