Experts discuss government agility at the forum.
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
The UAE has led the way in setting plans for the future. The only issue is that the technology is changing very fast. We still have progress to make in terms of changing the mindset, especially among government agencies that refuse to share their data — even with other departments, said Dr Saeed Al Matrooshi, CEO and Secretary-General at the Ajman Executive Council.
He made the observation while speaking about how the fourth Industrial Revolution affects policy goals, the policy process, and implementation at the fourth UAE Public Policy Forum (UAE PPF 2020), organised by the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG) in collaboration with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation (MBRCGI).
On the first day of the two-day forum, experts deliberated on the issue of creating a future-proof government, while workshops and panel discussions were focused on government agility and preparing the UAE government for the far-reaching changes being brought by the fourth Industrial Revolution.
Sharing his experience, Prof. Sid Ahmed Benraouane, Adviser Chair US-ISO Innovation Working Group at the University of Minnesota, highlighted the efficacy of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) application developed for the police department.
“The police model has not changed in the last several centuries,” he said. “We sought to transform it using Artificial Intelligence. A prominent trend in police work is predictive analytics, where data can help predict some issues such as car accidents and traffic, allowing us to better allocate our resources.” Marten Kaveats, National Digital Adviser of the Government Office of Estonia, said that the governments can’t predict the future but it can build systems that can adapt to changes.
He said that Estonia has already introduced 25 AI-powered applications, with many more in the pipeline. “Technology is changing fast, and so are people’s expectations. They are changing faster than our governance systems can, and with that in mind, we need to build a mindset open for innovation.” Massimo Falcioni, CEO of Etihad Credit Insurance, said that humans cannot be replaced by machines. “As soon as new technology steps in, we need to manage this breakthrough and develop the necessary skills to embrace it. People have to learn to do their jobs in a different way. AI can take over the data gathering part of the job, freeing employees up to do more thorough analysis,” he said.
During a session titled ‘Design for Success: Exploring Agility in the Public Sector’, experts from around the world explored how to make governments more agile. The panel also examined how to increase federal and local government responsiveness in what is a fast-moving digital age.
Huda Al Hashimi, Assistant Director General for Strategy and Innovation, UAE Prime Minister Office, highlighted the Dubai Future Accelerators programme. “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’s not always about being disruptive – it’s about stabilising and being resilient,” she said.
Al Hashimi said that agility depends on empowerment, being pre-emptive, foresights and flexibility. Referring to UAE Centennial 2071, she said no nation has announced it is planning so far ahead. “How can we strategise and reap the benefits? That’s why agile government is so critical, to stand strong and be able to achieve our leadership’s vision,” she commented.
Torsten Anderson, Deputy Director General at the Danish Business Authority, Denmark, said it started the agility process by reorganising traditional government practices and introducing new laws that are future-proofed and digital focused. “But if you do this as a tick-box exercise, it doesn’t work. We looked more at culture and putting users at the centre of what we do.”
Owain Service, Former MD and Co-Founder of the Behavioural Insights Team, UK, agreed that it’s important to understand systems and processes through the eyes of those using them. He said governments need to combine internal knowledge with external input from the private sector and academia. “Don’t assume insiders or outsiders can do it by themselves,” he said.
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