Governments across the Middle East are looking to diversify their economies, boost long-term economic growth and provide employment and support for fast-growing, predominantly youthful urban populations, while addressing historical under-investment in infrastructure and development, and operating under budget restrictions.
They are achieving these ambitious goals by grasping the potential of the Internet of Everything (IoE) – the next wave of the Internet; delivering an explosion of connectivity among people, process, data, and things. We have estimated that these connections offer a staggering USD 19 trillion in Value at Stake over the next decade for both private and public sectors.
The public sector has often suffered – wrongly so – from a bad reputation when it comes to technology investment and innovation, but we are seeing forward-thinking organizations here in the region taking bold action and delivering positive, measurable results to improve the lives of citizens.
Indeed, public-sector organizations are among the world’s leading IoE innovators, with the vision, scope and execution of public-sector IoE initiatives providing a model for both private and public sector organizations to follow.
Leading jurisdictions here in the Middle East are using the IoE to transform how, where and to whom they deliver services. By envisioning the possibilities of IoE, regional governments are overcoming traditional barriers, such as limited funding and scarce expertise.
The Middle East’s public sector is an excellent proving ground for the IoE because of the size of many government institutions, the number of people they serve, and the difficult problems they must solve.
In the education field for instance, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) needed to connect 300 schools across the emirate so it could deploy education solutions for world-class learning and enhance student performance. By deploying a borderless network solution, ADEC is delivering next-generation technology to support its vision of becoming one of the top five public education systems in the world.
And because public sector organizations have broad authority over large sectors of society and the economy, they are able to launch IoE initiatives with impressive scale and transformative potential – using the IoE to create value by lowering costs, improving employee productivity, generating new revenue, and enhancing citizen benefits.
Smart City Potential
These benefits can be seen very clearly in the region’s Smart City projects. Cities are well positioned to improve the quality of citizens’ lives through the IoE as they already provide many of the services upon which citizens rely, including transportation, law enforcement, education, water, and in some cases even Internet connectivity.
Funding shortfalls and increasing citizen expectations are forcing cities to consider how they can use technology to deliver these services more efficiently and find opportunities to increase revenue. Dubai’s public and private sectors for example, can achieve a potential AED 17.9 billion in value by 2019, according to a recent Cisco Consulting Services study.
In addition to technology, successful IoE initiatives take “people” and “process” issues into consideration. These include encouraging employees to embrace new roles, using training and recruiting to obtain needed skills, and, critically, designing solutions around how people can most easily access services and interact with providers.
For instance, the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai recently launched ‘24/7,’ an innovative round-the-clock service point developed by Cisco. To set up a business in Dubai, entrepreneurs don’t need to wait in queues. Instead, paperwork can be submitted to government agencies from the convenience of the Dubai Department of Economic Development’s “24/7” kiosk, with a scanner and TelePresence.
Another area where the IoE is coming increasingly into play is mobility: citizens and employees often now interact with IoE services primarily through mobile devices. Many public sector entities are putting mobile apps at the center of their IoE strategies, whether they are developed in-house or through third parties.
Dubai is focused on enabling mobile transactions and payments to make it easier for citizens to conduct business with the government, with a goal of launching 200 mobile government services in two years.
We see the Internet of Everything as providing an unprecedented opportunity to transform the public sector in terms of how it operates and how it provides services to constituents – delivering affordable, reliable solutions for the region’s population.
Partnerships between private companies and public-sector organizations will make this vision come true. By selecting technology partners who have IoE vision and expertise, organizations can better envision what their IoE solutions can accomplish and use technology in ways they haven’t considered before.
Public-sector leaders here in the region know that change isn’t constant, it’s instant. And by working together, private and public sector, we can bring change for everybody in the Middle East.