Royal Oman Police

The Problem

The role of the Royal Oman Police (ROP) is the same as that played by the police forces of all modern nations. It maintains law and order throughout the country by striving to control and prevent the occurrence and nip them in the bud. It controls, tracks and arrest perpetrators and take them to courts to allow justice takes its course.
All ROP stations in the different Governorates, regions and wilayats (districts) received reports and complaints submitted by all injured or wronged victims and inquire and investigate them. It also prepares all the files of the reports and complaints that are satisfying the basis of criminal conduct and refer them to the concerned and competent courts. It also handles the problems and fines of traffic violations. The Royal Oman Police is distinguished from other police forces in many countries by being also responsible of the tasks and responsibilities of customs and civil defence in the sultanate. Altogether there are 17 directorates within the ROP. The Operations, Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Customs, Passports, Civil Defence, Traffic and Civil Status directorates are the main directorates that provide public services. With these 7 directorates and numerous divisions and departments, there was no single access point for the public. For example, if a citizen or resident were issued traffic fines, he or she could only pay the fines at Traffic Police offices during office hours. For visa application, they would have to visit the Civil Status offices also during office hours. As a result, the public could only carry out transactions with the ROP physically during office hours.
This was inconvenience and totally unproductive for the citizens and residents. In addition, the respective ROP offices had to manage cash manually which was subjected to errors and malpractices. With the implementation of e.Oman strategy, ROP looked into leveraging on the use of IT to enhance their services to the general public. This provided the ROP with ample reasons to streamline and automate their internal processes and embarked on the provision of electronic services to the general public. Most importantly, automation of the information can then be shared within the many directorates in the ROP as well as with the other government agencies providing public services. The key organisations will be the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for their One-Stop Shop commercial registration services as well as the Ministry of Interior for the registration of citizens for the eVoting system.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The concept of ePolice leverages on eGovernment services utilising the electronic means of interaction and transaction for the citizens. With high internet and mobile penetration rate in Oman,(i.e, internet penetration as of Aug 2012 is 101.3% while mobile connectivity is about 179% as of Jun 2012), the ePolice initiative became the most effective way to connect better with the citizens and provide efficient and effective services. ROP led the way towards eGovernment by developing eServices for essential services delivery through the web portal. The ROP webportal offers many ePolice services that help all citizens and residents in Oman and outside Oman to access a huge range of user friendly services. The portal is bilingual since it serves both the citizens and residents.
From the ePolice services, the ROP received many email enquiries from public and was able to respond to all queries promptly within 24 hours. From the queries, ROP was able to consolidate the main concerns regarding ePolice services and created a Frequently Asked Questions page linked to the main portal page. Based on public suggestions and instruction from the General Headquarters, the webportal was updated regularly with up to date information and services on the ePolice since 2002. All the updates were made to help people get easier and faster online services which save much time and money. ROP work on receiving all public suggestions, study them and develop future plans that would enhance customers’ satisfaction.
The main online services which were subsequently added include traffic offense payment, online visa application, visa status enquiry and lost documents. The success of the ePolice services is remarkable. Since the launched of online payment module for traffic offences in the ePolice in 2008, the amount of traffic fines collected online was about 60.6 million OMR (USD 157.6 million), an increase of 7 % as compared to manual collection. In addition, with the introduction of online visa application in July 2008 up to the end of 2011, a total of 10.5 million applicants had applied their visa online (new and renewal). The eVisa services include the application and approval of employment visa, travel visa, housemaid visa and business visa.

Previously, the applicants had to submit the form manually and made 2 trips to the visa office. Now he/she needs only to report to the visa office to stamp their passport and obtain their resident card. For overseas applicants, previously, they could only obtain their visas from the Omani Consular services in their countries of origin. Through the ePolice services, they can now apply for their visit visa online. In 2011, about 426k visa applications were done online from overseas applicants. These applicants can also check on the status of their applications online. The lost document service is another online eServices provided by ROP through the ePolice. The user can report about the lost document such as passport, driving license etc and the police will do the required searching and then informing.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The ePolice web service portal is developed and implemented by the Directorate General of Information Technology and Public Relations in collaborations with the various directorates which include Operations, Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Customs, Passports, Civil Defence, Traffic and Civil Status.

Other stakeholders include

1) Information Technology Authority for the ePayment gateway for online payment infrastructure (The National ePayment Gateway (ePG) provides an operational component of the eGovernance infrastructure and full ecommerce facilities that allow secure online payments (ePayments). The presence of such a robust and secure ePayment Gateway enables eGovernment shared services to be paid for electronically using major local and international credit & debit cards, and in future, other electronic payment instruments. The gateway currently accepts all international credit cards, debit cards including Visa, MasterCard, Amex and Diner cards. )
2) Directorate General of Finance (ROP) to monitor the transactions and the flow of money and solve any payment conflicts. In addition to its main duty to finance the ePolice projects.

(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.
In accordance to the ROP’s role of keeping law and order in the country, they strive to discharge their duties and responsibilities effectively and efficiently. The ROP led the eGovernment superhighway by being one of the first public organizations in Oman to embrace the electronic services culture. They are able to harness the power of the internet, extensive mobile connectivity and electronic applications to develop an integrated webportal delivering some of most common eServices in a G2C, G2B and G2G environment.

At the same time, the webportal become the defacto platform for citizens and residents’ interaction with the ROP. Compared with traditional channels, the integrated online webportal possesses the potential to reach a much broader audience inside and outside Oman. It houses information rich content in a user-friendly interface. It integrates seamlessly with other systems to support business processes. Through embedded ePolice services, it successfully transfers customers out of long queues into Web-based communications channel. By going online for ePolice services, the customers reduced damages on human and physical properties.

The portal provides different electronic contents that are related to visitors looking for services or forms. It has important information that could be divided into six categories:
- General information
- Historical information
- Regional information
- Traffic safety
- ROP related information
That information could be found either from the homepage or from the menus and visitors can also search them using the website search engine.

The current ePolice Services include the payment of traffic fines and visa application and approval and lost document reporting. The ROP website will gather all the police divisions’ services and merge their own webservices into the main ROP portal. More services will be included in the near future such as online customs clearance transactions (Directorate General of Customs is a division of the ROP www.customs.gov.om), Directorate General of Medical Services (Royal Oman police Hospital) for booking online appointments and Royal Oman police announcements and circulations SMS service subscription. The civil status services will be developed to be eServices (www.civilstatus.gov.om) and all the Directorate General of Traffic (www.traffic.gov.om) services will be included in the ROP portal such as renewing Driving license and vehicle registration.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
Phase 1

• In 2000, ROP website was launched as official and informative website for public.

• May 2003: Oman's National IT Strategy was launched to develop Omani digital society and ROP was part of it.

• 2005: ROP started the traffic offences inquiry services through the website.

• 2006: Information Technology Authority (ITA) was formed to spearhead the implementation of Oman's digital strategy.

• Early of 2008, ROP and ITA start implementing National e Payment Gateway system by online traffic fine payment.

• In July 2008, online visa application was launched in the ROP website.

• 2009: ROP website received the Oman Digital Award 2009 under category of best eContent.

• 2010: Online traffic payment on ROP website achieved the Sultan Qaboos Award for excellence in e-government services for 2010.

Phase 2
From 2011 to Sep 2012, analysis of all ROP services and collection of all the data required to further improve the portal were completed. The new version of ROP webportal is in its final stage which will be launched with other ROP eServices.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The key challenges and obstacles with ROP webportal were not technology or internet issues but were organisational issue such as:
1- Redefining rules and procedure. Before automation could take place, there was a need to streamline and redefine the work process and procedures in the various business cases. Such rules also looked into inter-departments or directorates services so that once each process had been streamlined and automated; it would result in efficient and effective services.
2- Infrastructure, skill and awareness. The provision of electronic services is dependent on pervasive ICT infrastructure. ROP had to invest many resources in order to ensure that the ePolice services are available to everyone anywhere in Oman and the world both on the tradition PC as well as the emerging mobile and portable devices. In addition, upgrading the skills and knowledge of the internal ROP personnel delivering the services is also essential so that the ePolice is available 24/7 and with minimal disruption. Massive public awareness programme had to be conducted so that the public was aware of the ePolice services otherwise the usage rate would be adversely affected if they were not made aware of the electronic services from the ROP.
3- Tendency to resist the challenge in work culture. This is akin to resistance to changes. After so many years of doing the tasks manually, there was a stark resistance to automation and changes related to ICT. However with support from top management and refining the internal policies and regulations coupled with proper training for affected personnel, such changes were overcome successfully.

Other obstacles are geographical distances, lack of trained human resources and lack of ICT penetration in remote areas. All the previous challenges were reduced over the past years. The work culture has changed with the awareness of the ePolice services benefits and importance. The increase of reach of connectivity services, IT training of human resources and building their capacity in all government and private organisations reduce the information technology gap. Sustainability of the services and improvement according to the customers' needs make ePolice more acceptable and preferable by community.

(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
The cost of the initiative was financed by Directorate General of finance and Directorate General of IT with contribution with ITA. 250K USD is allocated to develop complete ePolice services. A recurring of 10% of the implementation cost is also allocated for annual maintenance.

Technical and Human Resources
1- The ePolice utilised the latest technologies for servers and develop the application using web enabled software with pervasive and robust Oracle databases.
2- Through connection to the Oman Government Network, high speed internet connection is guaranteed so as to enable faster electronic services.
3- A team of qualified IT technicians along with qualified programmers and websites developers are deployed to maintain the electronic services and the webportal.
4- Public awareness programmes for public are being conducted continuously to ensure that the citizens and residents are aware of the new ePolice services and how to use them effectively either on PC or mobile devices.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The ePolice initiative is sustainable as more services will be converted online in due course such as online customs clearance transactions (Directorate General of Customs is a division of the ROP www.customs.gov.om), Directorate General of Medical Services (Royal Oman police Hospital) for booking online appointments and Royal Oman police announcements and circulations SMS service subscription. The civil status services will be developed to be eservices (www.civilstatus.gov.om) and all the Directorate General of Traffic –(www.traffic.gov.om) services will be included in the ROP portal such as renewing Driving license and vehicles registration

This initiative is the first integrated electronic services with electronic payment capability in Oman. It is transferable as it became an impetus to the development of all other eGovernment Services in Oman which include Ministry of Manpower services, Ministry of Health (www.moh.gov.om ), Minister of Education (www.moe.gov.om), Ministry of Housing www.housing.gov.om). In fact, it sets the standard to create closer connection to the public through the provision of electronic services. The ePolice provides end to end solution to the citizens and residents easing the application process and reducing the application time.

The ROP webportal is also linked to different ministries and private sector organizations. The portal offers many online services for citizens and foreigners from Oman and outside Oman. It was the first website to offer online services. There is online payment system effective and helped many people pay their traffic offenses directly. This helps in encouraging many government organizations to implement online services and increase the level of trust. In all modern society there is a portal that helps all people within those societies get services and find all related information about different governmental organization. Therefore, offering online services and publishing related information is the best way to be modernized and to cope with modern society.

The success of ePolice services is evident from the number of transactions from the portal. For example when the online traffic payment was launched in 2008, only 4% of the fine were paid online. In 2011, the amount of traffic fines collected online increased to 42% which clearly indicated the increasing popularity of the ePolice services. In addition, when the online visa application was launched in July 2008 only 7k applications were received by Dec 2008. However in 2009, about 1 million visa applications were done through the ROP website and by the end of 2011 the number of online visa application was more than 3 million applicants.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
Saves Time
1) Applicants can now pay their traffic fines online without having to go personally to the Traffic Police offices. Moreover the traffic offence inquiry service helps drivers to keep tab on their traffic offences and fines accumulated. This helps to create safety driving awareness so that the drivers do not violate the traffic rules.
2) Applicants can apply for their visa online, thus reducing the number of trips to the Passport and residency office by half. The time taken for approval has been reduced from to 3 to 5 days to 1 working day only.
3) Overseas applicants can also apply for their visa online instead of having to do it at the Omani Consular services in their countries of origins.

Increased in visa applications
The total visa applications handled manually in 2007 were 703k (new and renewal). However in 2009, about 1 million visa applications were done through the ROP website. When the Directorate General of Passport ceased visa applications manually in 2011, the number of online visa applications increased to about 2.8 million applications. This is more than 100% increased in visa application and approval as compared to 2009.

Better Services to the Public
1) Saving the public time and effort. This results in better efficiency in public service delivery through faster dissemination of government information to a larger audience.
2) Greater transparency and accountability and less corruption. A reduction in corruption cases as accountability and transparency is increased. This derives from the limited physical contact between citizens and government service providers and their activities can be easily monitored.

Lessons Learnt

The main challenge of e-Police implementation is whether the intended objective of reaching the citizens and residents is actually achieved. ROP works with the stakeholders to ensure that the ePolice services reach every citizens and residents. Oman has adequate ICT infrastructure and ROP is improving its online services and citizens’ access to these services and dedicating itself to improving the organization literacy level. There is also a need to address the internal digital divide between the IT literate and illiterate citizens. Hence, ROP invested in building its capacity in order to provide its services to everyone in the country. Through an integrated public feedback and responses, ROP was able to continuous improve the ePolice services and enhance public services as well. While ensuring public order and security, the ROP also offers services to people which are made possible by modern information technologies. This helps to enhance public trust in the police, and it also improves the effectiveness of police work, saves the people time and effort.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Royal Oman Police
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Yahya Al Hamaimi
Title:   Head of Public realation  
Telephone/ Fax:   +968 24521203/ fax +968 24522200
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   yahya010t@hotmail.com  
Postal Code:  
City:   Muscat
Country:   Oman

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