Breaking: UN eGovernment Survey 2012 is out: UAE Tops Arab World and ranked top 10 in online servicesally

The United Nations Public Administration Network (UNPAN) has just revealed the United Nations eGovernment Survey 2012 in New York. ِAccording to the UN eGovernment Index – a major component of the report that ranks the world countries covered by the report according to the advancement of their eGovernment programs  – UAE is now ranked 29th globally and tops all Arab countries.

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البيانات الحكومية المفتوحة: النفط الجديد

شارك المئات حتى لحظة كتابة هذا المقال في استبيان رأي مازال منشوراً  على بوابة حكومة الإمارات  ويهدف إلى استقراء آراء زوار البوابة حول أفضل السبل لتطويرها وتلبية الاحتياجات والتوقعات المتزايدة لجمهور الخدمات الإلكترونية الحكومية في الدولة.

image via govfresh.com

وقد نشرت حكومة الإمارات الإلكترونية قبل أيام تحليلاً أولياً لعينة من مشاركات الجمهور. ويشير التحليل إلى أن قسماً كبيراً من المشاركين أكد على “ضرورة تعزيز البيانات الحكومية على المواقع الإلكترونية للجهات الحكومية “. أجد في هذا الاستطلاع مناسبة للبدء في كتابة سلسلة مقالات للتعريف بمفهوم  البيانات الحكومية المفتوحة (Open Government Data)، استهلها بهذا المقال الذي يقدم تعريفاً أساسياً بالمفهوم ومدى انتشار تبنيه حول العالم.

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نسخة عربية لسياسة تويتر الجديدة لحجب المحتوى

قبل ساعات، أعلن موقع تويتر عن سياسته الجديدة والمتمثلة في حجب تغريدات معينة في دول محددة عندما يطلب منه ذلك مع إبقائها متاحة في باقي الدول حول العالم. ومن أجل مساعدة مستخدمي تويتر المتحدثين بالعربية في فهم هذه السياسة بشكل أفضل، أقدم فيما يلي ترجمة للإعلان الرسمي من تويتر حول هذا الموضوع علماً أن هذه الترجمة ليست رسمية:

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Emirates eGovernment’s 12 Major Milestones in 2011

Emirates eGovernment’s 12 Major Milestones in 2011

In various levels, 2011 was both important and busy year for the eGovernment in UAE. Emirates eGovernment – the entity managing the program – took more strategic steps towards promoting open government and citizen participation practices by launching the open government data sub-portal and launching a government-wide social media usage guidelines. On the organizational side, the General Information Authority (the entity used to handle the eGovernmetn program) was merged with Telecom Regulatory Authority.

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ICEGOV 2011 – My Reflections (Part 1) : Leadership and Open Government

I spent the last week of September in Tallinn – the calm capital of Estonia to participate in the 5th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (ICEGOV2011). It was my first time to make it to this conference series and was happy to be organized in Estonia which is widely recognized for being one of the “fully functioning” eGovernments around the world.

The conference website offers full information about it including the presentations, videos and photos of its sessions and activities, but I would like to dedicate this post and other upcoming ones to share some of my personal reflections on the conference.
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GCC States Take a First Step Towards Open Data

The wave of open data has finally reached the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries where three out of the six countries have launched dedicated open data portals at the national level.

While United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia (SA) dedicated a section for open data within their national portals (http://www.government.ae/web/guest/uae-data and http://bit.ly/jTye5X) respectively, Bahrain has chosen to launch an independent Open Data Platform (http://www.bahrain.bh/wps/portal/data/).

Since I had the privilege of contributing to the initiation of the initiative in the UAE and after spending a quite good time in exploring Bahrain and SA portals, I would like to share with you my findings and comments on the status of open data initiatives in these three countries in light of their national portals.

Starting with the justification of launching these portals, both UAE and Bahrain consider open data an important tool to promote transparency and encourage the public to “eParticipate” and interact with the government. SA portal doesn’t highlight the reason of launching their open data section but we can safely assume the same reason of UAE and Bahrain when looking at other parts of the portal especially the one dedicated to eParticipation. However, we shouldn’t overlook the importance GCC countries give to their rankings in United Nation eGovernment Index and how they work to apply the UN recommended standards on their portals, having an open data section at the national portal is among these standards. (check here and here).

Digging down in the three portals, we can find a pretty long list of open data sets gathered from different government agencies and complied in a central database. UAE and Bahrain portals offer a convenient presentation of the data sets and helpful search tool to search for a specific set while you need to browse through the lists in the case of SA. Although MS. Excel is the primary format in which the data is offered in the three portals, we can come across some PDF files in the case of UAE and Bahrain.

One important piece of data that I couldn’t find in any of the three portals is the government budget! SA portal offers a broken link, Bahrain offers a brief of “estimated” budget for previous years while UAE offers budget of the Ministry of Health only.

But regardless of how the data offered on the portals are comprehensive and accurate, and regardless of the fact that the UN e-Government Index is a key incentive for launching these portals, I highly salute this step and considering it an important milestone in the e-Government journey GCC countries started more than a decade back. The shortcomings I highlighted above (especially the lack of budget data) could help us understand the organizational and cultural challenges needed to tackled to push for an open government which is a common case in many countries including the Open Government initiative in the United Sates.
In addition, linking these initiatives more tightly to the higher national agenda and the citizens needs will help in making them sustainable. It’s comforting to see Mr. Salem Al Shair – Director General of UAE eGovernment assuring his vision and long term commitment to the open data initiative by saying :“We will continue to strive to achieve a strong and sustainable eGovernment in an endeavour to create information society and knowledge-based economy under the able guidance of our visionary leaders

Open Government: The Need for Readiness Assessment Framework

Since the Open Government Initiative was kick-started in the United States in 2009, the implementation of the concept has exceeded the borders of US to other countries around the world. Australia Declaration of Open Government and Canada Open Data Project are only two examples of these countries.
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