UN commends UAE digital initiative to contain COVID-19

ABU DHABI, The United Nations General Secretariat has praised the digital initiatives launched by the UAE to confront the spread of the new Corona virus, COVID-19, and reduce its social, health and economic repercussions, noting that these initiatives offered a global model on how to harness digital solutions and benefit from them to fight the pandemic.

The “Compendium of Digital Government Initiatives in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic,” launched on 6th October 2020 by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, DESA, explains how governments have been using campaigns and chatbots to provide reliable information about the virus and to combat fake news, disinformation and viral hoaxes. It also aims to capture emerging trends in digital responses of the United Nations Member States against the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide a preliminary analysis of their main features.

”Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, digital technologies have enabled governments to connect with people and to continue to deliver services online. In many countries digital government has stepped up its central role as a necessary element of communication, leadership and collaboration between policy makers and society,” said Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General of DESA.

In a quick call for inputs by UN DESA, government officials around the world shared nearly 500 COVID-19 related applications in less than two weeks. As the pandemic progressed, policy makers responded by mobilising public-private partnerships to engage in designing new services and apps as part of the crisis response. Some of these new services and apps went beyond information-sharing and included delivering essential services to those most in need, thus optimising the entire supply chain via digital government services,” he added.

The compendium lists selected initiatives in nine major groupings of action areas: Information sharing; E-participation; E-health; E-business; Contact tracing; Social distancing and virus tracking; Working and learning from home; Digital policy and Partnerships.

In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the government of the United Arab Emirates has been keen to issue a set of decisions that contribute to ensuring the safety of citizens, residents and visitors.

Volunteering The UAE formed the Higher National Committee for Regulating Volunteering during Crisis. A UAE-wide volunteer initiative was launched to help combat the coronavirus outbreak. Volunteers can register themselves on Volunteers.ae and let organisations find them through the portal’s online register. Volunteers could be individuals, a group or an organisation.

The portal also publishes volunteering opportunities and criteria of volunteers needed; this will help volunteers to study the event and their capabilities before applying. Volunteers are entitled to recognition in terms of awards and volunteering hours which can be added to build their online profile.

MAP for COVID screening centres and health facilities Launched by the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority, the MAP Health Facility Locator app can help the public locate newly launched COVID-19 screening drive-through centres and all other health facilities across the UAE including hospitals, health centres and clinics. Users can search for various facility details, location or proximity from their current location or any other location.

“Don’t worry” national campaign for mental support The UAE’s National Program for Happiness and Wellbeing, NPHW, has launched a nationwide campaign to offer free online mental health support for all UAE residents coping with the adverse psychological effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 50 experts in the fields of psychology, mental and social support, and life skills are participating in the initiative.

TRA initiatives In the context of its role in supporting the government’s precautionary efforts in the current circumstances, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, TRA, launched several initiatives to enhance the ICT sector to enable it support digital transformations.

TRA provided 14000 student devices in the public schools. Other TRA initiatives included free internet data via mobile phone to enable distant learning, awareness voice messages when making a phone call, SMS alerts to UAE national abroad and increase of fixed broadband speed to 100 Mbps.

AlHosn application The AlHosn application provides a service that shows the extent of commitment of home quarantined people to the instructions, to protect themselves and society.

The app uses short distance Bluetooth signals to determine when your phone is near another phone that also has the app installed and whether they have contact or interact with people who have been infected with COVID-19. Each user will have their own QR code, which is a sign of his/her health, which enables them to reach public places with more reassurance and interact with others safely.

Remote working technology initiative In line with Abu Dhabi’s digital agenda, the Department of Government Support has activated and enabled remote working tools in Abu Dhabi public sector such as the integration of the ‘Microsoft Teams’ system.

The system enables the remote working through features that facilitate communication and cooperation between work teams via secure communication channel. The system is available on a range of devices such as desktop, mobile and browser. Today, more than 50 government entities in Abu Dhabi have deployed this technology and more than 40,000 users are adopting this technology in their day-to-day work activities.

UAE virtual labour market The UAE Virtual Labour Market was developed in partnership with the private sector, supported and supervised by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, MOHRE. It is designed to support the non-UAE workforce inside the UAE, which has been significantly impacted by the precautionary measures taken in the UAE to confront COVID-19. Jobseekers can register on the website to search and apply for available job opportunities advertised by employers.

Ministry of Education’s e-learning The Ministry of Education has embarked on testing a variety of platforms, aimed at creating a smart learning environment that is easy to access and adaptable in all circumstances.

Cultural activities of the Sharjah Sport Council The public sports club implemented a number of initiatives in order to remotely involve all members of society in the cultural and community work during the quarantine period, such as: Cubes competition, remote book summarisation competition, Holy Quran competition and virtual Ramadan Council.

Digital Month The Abu Dhabi Government launched the “Digital Month” initiative that reflects the ambitious vision of the UAE’s leadership to use Information Technology to serve the community and advance government services.

The Abu Dhabi Government has completed the events and activities of its ‘Digital Month’ initiative, which was launched in March 2020 with the participation of more than 45 government entities in the emirate.

The ‘Digital Month’ initiative reflects the ambitious vision of the UAE’s leadership to use Information Technology to serve the community and advance government services.

The initiative has yielded impressive results, with a dramatic 94 percent jump in switching to digital services across Abu Dhabi, a rise of 83 percent in online transactions, and an increase of 25 percent in the total number of visits to digital channels.

Today, government entities provide more than 1,000 services across various digital channels, through which it completed more than 8 million transactions during the final quarter of last year. Digital transformation provides added value at multiple levels, as it saves more than 300,000 days of work for government employees and 16 million customers visits.

Robots and drones To promote social distancing, the UAE government used robots, drones, self-help temperature scanners, contactless infrared thermometers, various apps and social media campaigns.


Source: Emirates News Agency