eService (Commerce) – Buy SLRB’s Products
Survey & Land Registration Bureau

The Problem

Before the Initiative: Survey Directorate was established by Amiri Decree No. 2 for the year 1978 as part of the Ministry of Housing. It became part of the SLRB as of 2003, and is comprised of 3 branches: Cadastral Survey Directorate, Topographical Survey Directorate, and Hydrographic Survey Directorate.

Collectively, the combined efforts of the General Directorate for Surveying and its 3 branches cover all aspects of surveying: cadastral, topographical, geodetic, and hydrographic surveys. In addition, the directorate produces maps and projection charts through advanced methods of cartography. Related reports are respectively published as part of the SLRB's concern for public benefit and the needs and requirements of ministries and other government entities. All surveyed data rely on a highly accurate, country-wide, geodetic network that is constantly maintained and improved through the maintenance, increase, and distribution of geodetic marker density using cutting-edge technology.

The problem to which this initiative was a solution: All customers of the Survey and Land Registration bureau were not able to use any of our services unless they came physically to SLRB's offices. This was hindering the process of buying maps, charts and other products as people had to physically go to the collection center, pay money in person and collect from the delivery counter.

Since SLRB is the only authority from whom official maps can be purchased as we are the developers and creators in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Due to this fact, the overseas customers were highly affected as their representative had to physically be available in our country to pay and collect the requirements.

The other hindrance which was causing inconvenience was the customers who needed to submit their land registration or survey request applications, lots of the times they face traffic and parking problems and also might forget to bring all necessary documents for their application and would need to make more than round to complete the transaction.

Customers had also to call or come physically to check upon their applications and inquire about their status, again the parking, traffic and the unavailability of employees to take calls after hours caused great inconveniences.

As SLRB services are aimed towards everybody and that includes citizens, residents, public and private sector and foreign investors, SME’s, the limitation of having to physically come to our offices during working hours to attain any of our services caused lot of distress and inconvenience to both local and international customers.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
Achievements Implemented: With the launch of our portal, there is no longer need for distress, frustration and anxiety for SLRB’s customers as now they can utilize all available e-Services at a push of a button and on their finger-tips. The world of e-Services and e-Commerce has moved beyond bounds and leap of electronic ways of communication. Getting electronically connected through using web enabled services is in fact the new name and game of world inter-communications. As Bahrain has promulgated into its new era of electronic government, use of e-Service became a mandate.

Benefits resulted in implementing of e-Services: 24 x 7 x 365 days staying “On” connected with the World Wide Web, making anytime use of available services. No restrictions of government operational time or any red-tape. Thus, giving total customer delight of services to its esteemed customers by relieving them of operations anxieties such as; no distress or frustrations no need for multiple visits to SLRB offices, convenience and ease of operation as per the customer requirement as the information, products and services they need is available to them any time and on their finger-tips.

Impact Measured: Our e-commerce service has just been launched recently and the statistical reports that were generated showed promising number of website hits as well as the service efficiency has increased as shown in the statistics from average 3,000 hits per month from Jan-2011 until Date. Also our records show that we sold about 400 maps through traditional sales channels and we expect and forecast to become around 500.

Qualitative and Quantitative Benefits and who all benefited from it;

To Customers:
• Local and international reach to varied customer base across the globe
• Reaching out to local and international customers and giving them opportunity for previewing our portal website and allowing them to purchase online as per choice of liking and requirements
• Helping ease of road traffic and parking issues for local customers within Kingdom of Bahrain, as they can now purchase our online products and make use of all available e-Services through using of a click of a mouse button
• This gives us a delighted customer and enhances our development satisfaction
• Earning the required name, fame and glories attached to it for our valued Organization
• Bringing in a GREEN revolution, “GO GREEN” by saving of paper as now our products can be easy and flexibly downloaded through various sizes and shapes of its Soft files
• A delighted customer will automatically yield in bringing in more revenue which will add to our organization bottom-line
To e-Government:
• Earning the required name, fame and glories as a value addition to their kitty of producing and generating no. of e-Services availability count on their unified single portal website
• Centralizing of all Government e-Services into a one-stop-shop, a single click to various and varied Government portals and its related services
• Helping our country to go unified and achieving the 2030 Vision of Scalability, Availability and Sustenance

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
Proposed solution was proposed, piloted and initiated: With the blessings of the Project sponsor and our Head of SLRB, H.E. Shaikh Salman Bin Abdulla Al-Khalifa.
The project overall team supervision and leadership was done by SLRB’s General Director of Resources and Information Systems, H.E. Shaikh Mohammed Al-Khalifa.
The initiative of the project was overseen by the Project Manager, Hamed Mohamed Abulfatih, Director of Information Systems who invested considerable time in reviewing all required project efforts with the internal team and the vendor.
Main Implementers of this project were: IDEAS, Bahrain and Information Systems Directorate Team
Stakeholders of this project: Survey & Land Registration Bureau and all its varied blends of customers.
Project Sponsor: His Excellency Shaikh Salman Bin Abdulla Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa
Project Director: His Excellency Shaikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa bin Abdulla Al-Khalifa
Project Manager: Hamed Mohamed Abulfatih
Project Coordinator: Burzin Phiroze Bharucha
Project Core Team Members: Mr. Abdulla Al Moosa / Ms. Mai Al Moosa / Miss Fatima Al Jiran
Project User Acceptance Testers (UAT): Cadastral Survey Directorate, Topographic Survey Directorate, Hydrographic Survey Directorate, Land Registration and Follow-up Directorate, Technical Affairs Directorate, Human and Financial Resources Directorate

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
Main objective: ISD, had to take a leading role as developing e-services was one of its main responsibilities; ISD proposed the e-services as a channel to deliver related SLRB services and with its internal stakeholders and concerned external stakeholders. A consensus was reached, final requirements relating the services were planned its requirements were forwarded with an open RFP and the selection committee gave the implementation to IDEAS, who did the actual development of our e-services and its entire portal design, in conjunction with ISD Team, Project Manager, Project Coordinator and all other concerned stakeholders as required.
SLRB embraced and imbibed the principles which were defined by Vision 2030 that of; sustainability, competitiveness and fairness in ensuring and overseeing the e-Services draws its own means for a secure and fulfilling demand of work which reaches its potential by delivering brighter and better customer engagement and give them a delightful experience in using of the e-Service with ease.
How this Initiative was established: The information systems directorate had to monitor and coordinate with the vendor to ensure that the system has been developed as per terms of reference specifications to ensure that the look, feel and its functionality are adhered as per specifications.
By whom and how it was established: IDEAS, being our Vendors who actually designed, programmed and coordinated the whole gamut of exercise with the Project Manager, Project Coordinator and ISD Team members including the actual users when required.
On successful completion of the same, a thorough User Acceptance Test was conducted wherein all relevant internal Directorates personnel were involved to check the sanctity of its e-Services along with Product specifications and its prices so as to allow authentic information to be published on SLRB Web Portal. After relevant signoff of the project was taken, a meticulous handover of the complete systems including its binaries, program code, technical and specification documentation, database structures, indexes topology all was handed over by the vendor IDEAS to SLRB’s ISD.
An audit of quality check was conducted so as to comply as per e-Government Standards of OWASP and WWW Standards as well as all relevant information captured as per terms of reference fulfilled.
As a final Outcome, SLRB launched its e-Portal introducing several e-Services for ease of accessibility, in order to give comfort to its customers to operate within their means of use and service choice. As well as enable all to buy high quality maps through its e-Service (e-Commerce) portal.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
Key development and Implementation features: SLRB’s web site consisted of numerous e-services and one of them was e-commerce service that allows customers locally and globally to purchase maps and relevant products such as (Topographic, Ortho-imagery, and Hydro maps, tide charts, et al).
SLRB’s e-Services aim, was to establish an image of the Bureau as well as sell its KEY PRODUCT’s using e-Commerce platform as a medium of broadcast and reputed way to promote its business services reaching to millions of customers around the world thus achieving the Bureau’s strategic goals and increased bottom line through selling of Key Product’s as its strategic assets of SLRB and Bahrain. The web provided a fabulous opportunity to generate additional revenue while serving its customer with ease of their choice.
Chronologically, Survey Job status e-Service for Cadastral Survey Directorate was developed as the 1st e-Service, as we already had a workflow system in place. Thus, it was easy to modernize it with an intermediate database linking its captured query as a Select choice statement to its main Database and filtering the correct query result to intermediate database which yielded specific job status enquiry and relevant flag of correct status response. This took an approximate 125 man-hours.
The land registration job status e-service was developed as the 2nd e-Service. As Land Registration Directorate had no workflow system, it was required to first develop an electronic form that the users would fill-up online. Thus the information from this on-line form was captured in terms of passing the required query, filtering the parameterized query result from its back end database, forwarding the result to its intermediate database, which would yield the specific job status enquiry and its relevant flag of correct status response. This development took another 150 man-hours.
The online applications were developed next due to look and feel of its applications being very similar except for a few attributinal changes, all forms and queries were based on the concept of submitting a request and attaching the necessary documents, thus they were grouped together. This took approximately 200 man-hours.
Lastly, the online store which was one of the bigger and most complex applications developed. It took larger chunk of time to develop, approximately over 300 man-hours. This was due as all relevant people were required to brain-storm along with its business users to catalogue all its products they produced and sold. Thus, all products were captured as thumbnails to be viewed online, and parallely stored as High Definition large picture files for e-Commerce downloads.
We also had to make an agreement with a CrediMax (Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait card processing company) and the Ministry of finance in order to accept online payments and deposit the money into the government’s account. This took approximately 75 man-hours.
Another agreement was done with Bahrain Post for them to ship the ordered products. This took approximately 50 man-hours, for them to understand how important its timely delivery would matter to yield a delighted customer.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
Obstacles encountered: The main obstacles encountered were of coordination and communication efforts required to be done with the business users and the vendor. The business users kept changing requirements even in implementation phase which caused lots of delays in the project and sometimes they made clashing requirements. The vendor also delayed the project and was not giving the project its full attention, they also were objecting to its constant changing parameters and requirements.
Another problem that we encountered was when we started to develop the online store model; as at respective survey directorates they were following manual process of selling Maps and their products to respective customers directly or through agents which surely was time consuming as people would come and buy products without realizing what they exactly need thus coming multiple times to exchange and creating anomaly and discomfort as there were lot of complaints from customers about we giving them wrong products thus it was blame game being played.
How it was overcome: To overcome these obstacles, a committee consisting of the top management of the business users and Information systems was formed to better collaborate, the committee at first seemed as an obstacle at first due to constant changes in the requirements but eventually turned out to be very fruitful, all problems facing the project were discussed in the meetings and this allowed decision makers to make informed decisions and reach resolutions faster and firm-up processes followed manually.
Any new requirement was discussed in the committee and the Project Manager along with Project Coordinator and its information systems team explained how each and every requirement may and cannot be implemented and what implications and necessary delays it might cause because of continuous changing requirements.
As for the vendor, we had to constantly communicate and pacify them with fulfilling all extra and relevant changes of our requirements so as to meet-up to our set standards. This was a win-win situation for them as well as for SLRB, to bring fought every possible and related e-Services to be programmed and made available onto their web portal site.
Moreover, ISD, Director played a very crucial and excellent role to see all the development along with extra requirements fitted well within the stipulated budget of the project.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
Resources Used: Project manager: took care of the overall project and its relevant supervision until fruition, its ISD Team members and Vendor fulfillment of project completion, related requirement gathering from all relevant directorates and management requirement as and when requested.
Project Coordinator: took care of internal meetings it’s relevant liaison within internal directorates, project progress meetings and follow-ups in overseeing that the scope as discussed into the project meetings were not changed and if it is changed a reasonable justifications to be provided so both Project Manager, Vendor and ISD Team will agree upon and see that it is incorporated in the development cycle and as required per e-Government, OWASP and W3C standards. Another role he played was to continuously push and coordinate with Vendor in case of external liaison and detailed understanding is required with their Security Consultants (EY) and keeping the Vendor expectation in control so as to meet the challenging and demanding requirement of SLRB team.
System Analyst did the technical coordination by meeting with the actual user directorates of SLRB and percolated their requirement to the vendor so as to avail the required business facility of the business owner requirement into the web site portal development. He/she would also oversee all relevant eServices testing and its administration, allocate the necessary directorate parametric access and see that the users of that directorate is trained in utilizing of their services well so as to cater the best customer delight.
Website Administrator: ensured that the website and content are kept up-to-date and as per standards of requirements as per Central Informatics Organization (CIO) and e-Government Authority. And as defined by SLRB’s Information Security Policy implementations as per ISO 27001:2005.
Database Administrator: ensured that the relevant databases (SQL and Oracle) necessary logs are maintained and its backend functionality of required database access is managed well for its required eServices access.
Technical resources used: ISD, co-located and installed their Web Server at an absolute secured Central Informatics Organization (CIO) Datacenter, to work as the front end whilst all relevant database access and requests of web clients were serviced from de-militarized zone internally from the SLRB well secured firewalled infrastructure at their main H.O, Datacenter.
Website development including the required content engine was designed, developed, installed and managed by our Vendor – IDEAS.

Key benefits: Utilizing in-house experienced expertise of our personnel employed at SLRB, so as to minimize costs and reap the total cost of ownership and return on our investment to its fullest possible advantage. This gives our resources and equal opportunity to bring out their best form in managing it well for changes / development if required.

Associated costs: Invested about $50,000 to develop our WEBSITE PORTAL. The total man-hours invested by our Vendor was 650 hours, internally at SLRB, man-hours spent by ISD Team was 350 hrs, and that of other Directorates especially TSD, CSD and HSD in the tune of another 250 hrs for organizing relevant details and material for our e-Commerce related products.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
Initiative is being sustained: The website and e-services were developed using international standards such as Microsoft .net, W3C and OWASP standards. A complete set of methodology, technical specification and documentation have been maintained which clearly ensures that the technology can be replicated and transferred to other government organizations if and when needed.

In order to protect its investments, SLRB has its own internal experienced team of professional resources that will ensure the sustainability through maintaining and managing efficient usage of its e-services. Moreover, the entire backend of its web related database is continuously monitored and protected in accordance with the ISMS security standards.

Our Initiative can be very easily replicated and disseminated throughout the public services: As SLRB is ISO 27001:2005 certified. ISO27001 is the specification for ISMS, an Information Security Management System, the objective of the standard is to provide a model for establishing, implementing, operating, monitoring, reviewing, maintaining, and improving an Information Security Management System.

Web applications thus written at SLRB were duly written in Microsoft ASP .NET and open standard. Secure applications do not just happen – they are the result and culmination of an organization deciding that they will produce secure applications.

Thus, whilst designing and coding our website, SLRB oversaw that their vendor develops the code using all available and required coding techniques and best practices of W3C and OWASP’s in order to make our website compliant as per eGovernment Authority directives.

SLRB, also further went and implemented (SSL) as security protocol between our HTTP protocol and TCP protocol to secure connection. Using this ensures secure connections of transactional value such as credit cards, etc.

To add further security SLRB implemented PCI DSS compliant CrediMax gateway to facilitate customers’ transactions to purchase products online using their secured credit card. The data security standards 3D is used by CrediMax for securing their financial authorization and online authentication. The protocol uses XML messages sent over SSL to ensure the authenticity of client and server using digital certificates.

Thus, it is very clear that the techniques used to develop our Website Portal were in accordance to the industry best practices and standards. SLRB’s award winning e-Commerce Portal could surely be replicable and very easily disseminated provided the organization wanting to replicate the same implementation should adhere to all of the above related best practices and standards as implemented by SLRB in a diligent and versatile manner with full commitment and integrity.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
Impact of our Initiative: Our Website has attracted transaction from various e-Trend movements such as;

1. Government to Consumer in which individual consumers interacts and purchase products online for their individual needs (tourists and researchers).

2. Government to Business in which businesses (small, medium and large enterprises) purchase products online that will help in improving their profits.

3. Government to Government in Maritime, VIPs, ministries, Bureaus and public offices purchase products online to assist in government affairs.

Key Elements: Endeavor to establish a positive reputation and image of the Bureau in selling value for money high quality and unique products. We are doing this by using our e-Service (e-Commerce) as a broadcast medium to promote business reaching customers globally and consequently adding additional profits to our bottom-line.

Our e-Services has attracted numerous global customers giving high quality of unique products on time. A Customer can download high resolution of the maps as a soft copy at their own disposal. With our e-Commerce Portal service we have repetitive customers coming from various market segments. This ensures of having a loyal customer relationship as SLRB’s believes in offering economical and value for money high quality maps and its related products.

On technology side, since we are enriching our website content, optimizing it and following up with international standards enables simplicity to customers' experience interaction with the web site.

On the product side, our products are enhanced and improved continuously to exceed customers' expectations.

We continuously strive to: monitor the web site performance on monthly basis as the goal to meet customer satisfaction. We do this by taking customer and user feedback providing them questionnaires. In this case, we look at where the weak areas of the web site and how we can improve them.

We did benchmarking of our web site against other web sites to see the gaps in which it was suggested to make necessary changes using the OWASP and W3C standards. Thus, our Website today in the category of what we specialize stands at no. 7 in the world. On its ratification of these gaps our website hopefully shall be no. 1 in the world.

We are going towards making the web more user-friendly by using descriptive names for the products, increase the thumb nails size of the map, reduce the loading process time using optimized images and files and finally reduce the purchasing steps of the product.

Lessons learned: The online store is the first of its kind in a government organization in Bahrain, thus the implementation idea can be replicated by other government agencies, companies and private organizations

As always being first caves a route map for others to follow a clean path, the greatest improvement and lesson learned from this experience was to build a unified team of all stakeholders for creating a better product and services forthwith.

The team’s involvement was magnanimous towards achieving excellence in making Bahrain proud of implementing such a unique and high value service for its Bureau.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Survey & Land Registration Bureau
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Hamid Abualfath
Title:   Information Systems Directorate  
Telephone/ Fax:   +97317507789
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   Dilmon Tower B – P.O Box 332, Governmental Avenue, Building 119, Road 383, Block 304
Postal Code:  
City:   Manama
Country:   Bahrain

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