Digital TransformationeGovernmentNews

Sharjah Embarks Upon a Digital Transformation Journey to Provide Optimised Public Services

Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of Sharjah’s Department of Government Relations (DGR), and Chairman of the Higher Committee of Digital Transformation of Sharjah, stressed the importance of developing a comprehensive digital transformation strategy in Sharjah, to better serve citizenry and businesses, and march towards achieving socioeconomic development. His remarks came during the UN Innovation Network’s inaugural event in New York which ran under the title ‘Frontier Technologies for Accelerating Sustainable Development –Opportunity or Barrier to Development?’

The event hosted a cross section of speakers including government and UN leaders, academic researchers, private sector innovators, who came together to examine the roles of AI and block chain technology in the roles of artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology in achieving the 2030 SDGs. Sheikh Fahim took part in a panel discussion titled, ‘New technologies = opportunities – What about the risks and threats?’, which heard from four other speakers, Nima Elmi, Head of Government Affairs, Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, World Economic Forum; Christine Ortiz Professor & Former Dean, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Gilles Feith – Head of Cabinet to the Minister of Defence, Luxembourg; and Jaakko Kurhila – Chief Digitalisation Officer – University of Helsinki.

During the discussion, he stressed the importance of having an advanced and integrated infrastructure to serve citizenry and businesses through a secure ecosystem of optimized and agile government services. “In Sharjah, we decided to launch a digital transformation plan a few years ago, and the first thing we did before we started collecting or aggregating any data was to look if governance structures were in place to make sure that these data sets are protected. Every country and every government needs to protect their digital asset base by strengthening investments in the field of cybersecurity.”

“Both in the public and private sectors, we invest tons into expanding our digital asset base, be it blockchain, AI or any other frontier technology. We need to popularise the practice of insuring data integrity and security just like other human assets.” He also drew the panel’s attention towards the need to analyse risks comprehensively in the technology field, the same way it is done in financial or other industry sectors.

During the discussion, Sheikh Fahim presented an example of how Sharjah has harnessed technology to pursue an effective path of data-driven policy making through strong governance mechanisms in place. “We have set the strategy in Sharjah as better policy making based on  data-driven decision-making. Anybody who has worked in policy knows that the traditional policy cycle takes an average of three years to run its full course from planning to execution and reviewing outcomes. Today, its about two days. Soon enough we will be issuing policy on a daily basis because we can start analysing the effects of what we are doing, supported by the data sets we have.”

The event was organised by the UN Office of Information and Communication Technology (OICT), UNICEF Office of Innovation and the Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN. DGR, Sharjah, was established in 2014 under the guidance of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to develop and promote Sharjah’s relations with international partners, as well as regional and international organisations in coordination with the related local government entities.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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