ROP SMS Services
Royal Oman Police

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Royal Oman Police in the Sultanate of Oman caters the citizens/residents by providing various services. However, this includes a workflow, process, and needs to inform and interact with the citizens/residents. This was having many stages of manual intervention between the users and the ROP. The user has to spend time either by visiting ROP or call to find the various status and at times it is time consuming and results in delay. This not only involves in the waste of time of the users but also the ROP staff's valuable time where they could have been doing more creative , productive, useful and efficient working. Due to the general availability of SMS, ROP’s initiative of introducing SMS-based eGovernment services was readily adapted, as they were simple to use, easily accessible and saved much of their time and efforts. The service reached citizens anywhere anytime including areas with no Internet access. The implementation of SMS-based e-government services significantly expanded ROPs’ capacity to produce benefits and deliver outcomes for citizens, residents, businesses and employees. By enabling the development of a whole new set of G2C, G2B and G2E applications and services, ROP SMS Services provided a powerful and transformational capacity to extend access to existing services, to expand the delivery of new services, to increase active citizen participation in government operations and to change the way of working within the public sector.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
SMS-based e-government systems have enabled ROP to communicate with and to provide a range of services for citizens, residents, businesses and employees through the SMS channel. The general availability of SMS from the most basic handsets to the most feature-rich makes text messaging one of the best source for information distribution and communication. Moreover, citizens do not need smartphones or Internet connection to remain informed. Since most have their mobile phone within reach and keep the device always on, ROP can make information and services accessible to the population anytime and anywhere. This system is classified into four levels: Notification, Pull Services, Communication and Integration. (1) Notification Level. (A) Premium Push Services (G2C and G2B) - a subscription-based service for citizens, residents and businesses that provides timely notification alerts about; i. Traffic Offenses (Individuals and Companies), ii. Vehicle Registration Expiry (Individuals and Companies), iii. License Expiry (citizens and residents), IV. Passport Expiry (citizens only), v. Visa Expiry (Expatriates only), VI. ID card / Resident Card Expiry (citizens and residents), vii. Online Visa Application Status (Individuals and Companies). For Terms and conditions please visit : http://www.rop.gov.om/english/smsservices.asp .(B) Job Interview Notification (G2C) - the Recruitment section in ROP Human Resource sends out notification alerts to all the registered job applicants to appear for the prospective interview / training on specified date and time. A web interface is provided to the recruitment section that acts as a front-end to the ROP SMS Gateway. (C) Monthly Salary Notification (G2E): the ROP finance department sends out monthly salary notification alerts to ALL the ROP staff members who are registered for this service. A staff member registers for this free service by sending relavent SMS command to ROP short code which is 90085. (D) ROP Hospital Appointment Notification (G2E): ROP Hospital sends out daily appointment alerts on the same day of entering appointment and One day before the scheduled appointment date. (2) PULL Services Level (G2C and G2B) - Individuals and commercial organizations can get information relating to their Traffic Violations, Vehicle Registration Expiry, Visa Application Status, etc. by sending appropriate service commands to ROP short code 90085. ROP will be adding more related services in near future. For detailed service commands please visit: http://www.rop.gov.om/english/smsservices.asp . (3) Communication Level - Access to an Intranet Web Application that acts as a front-end to the ROP SMS Gateway is provided to many Directorates, departments, sections etc. within the ROP internal network. It is used throughout the country by various departments to communicate with other ROP staff members. (4) Integration Level - The ROP SMS Gateway is integrated with major ROP projects such as eVisa, ePolice, eCustoms and ROP Call Centers and send out SMS notifications to their users through it.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
SMS is still one of the main messaging technology for communication in the mobile space as it is extremely easy to use, does not require internet connection and it reaches wider audience than any other technology available. SMS service has been effectively used to cater to almost all types of target users such as G2C, G2B and G2E. Moreover, with the use of additional latest web technologies, such as Web services, the ROP SMS services have been integrated with various other sources to provide a wider range of useful services. The system and its applications are provided robust multi-level security to protect against sophisticated and potentially dangerous stealthy attackers. The data and applications are regularly assessed for vulnerabilities and threats present in the system. Formal security policies and procedures are in place that dictate the basic requirements in the system and apply an in-depth defense approach at every layer of the network, from the routers and firewalls to the user’s personal computers. The services are provided by a combination of hardware and software services. The production services run from the ROP primary site in Qurum with a backup site available in Seeb. To provide high availability, the network components are provided in pairs so that the failure of a single unit does not bring down the service. Specifically, the network components consist of two Internet Routers, two Internet Switches, two firewalls, two DMZ switches and an out-of-band IDS (Intrusion Detection System). Any one of each pair of devices can fail without impacting the services.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
Since SMS offers a simple and effective way to communicate, the ROP SMS based eGovernment project was aiming to provide user centric services that benefitted citizens, residents, businesses and ROP employees and enable ROP to communicate and also provide a range of services. The aim was also to provide services that are easy to use, reliable, low cost, time saving and available anytime anywhere thus taking forward the eGovernment initiative and move towards electronic medium to enhance the existing services and open new, simple and effective communication channels of delivery to reach all people in the country. The ROP SMS services are important to the nation’s development strategy because: 1- ROP SMS solution has dramatically changed the current scenario for both the citizens and residents and the ROP including the other issues like of heavy phone calls enquiring the status of various services or visiting the ROP office thus creating indirect impact on traffic, parking and other related problems apart from the time and energy. 2- Users get instant notification of various services. 3- The user can query anytime Twenty-four by seven according to their convenience. 4- ROP staff does not have to waste their productive time by attending either phone calls or the user who visits the office for this purpose. 5- The entire flow of the system is designed with the ease and it has taken care as an automated interactive SMS solution. The ROP top management approved the proposal of this solution in 2003 and then they were implement as follows: On 5 January 2004 (1) Notification Level. (A) Premium Push Services (G2C and G2B) - a subscription-based service for citizens, residents and businesses that provides timely notification alerts. (2) PULL Services Level (G2C and G2B)no Subscription required - Individuals and commercial organizations can get information relating to their Traffic Violations, Vehicle Registration Expiry, Visa Application Status, etc. by sending appropriate service commands to ROP short code 90085. ROP will be adding more related services in near future. In 2012 (3) Communication Level - Access to an Intranet Web Application that acts as a front-end to the ROP SMS Gateway is provided to many Directorates, departments, sections etc. within the ROP internal network. It is used throughout the country by various departments to communicate with other ROP staff members. (4) Integration Level - The ROP SMS Gateway is integrated with major ROP projects such as eVisa, ePolice, eCustoms and ROP Call Centers and send out SMS notifications to their users through it.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The ROP SMS System was implemented by the Directorate General of Information Technology in collaborative with other ROP Directorates: Directorate General of Traffic, Directorate General of Passport and Residency, Directorate General of Civil Status, Directorate General of Finance Affairs, Directorate General of Customs, Directorate of Public Relation and Governorate Police HQs. SMS services are considered as an important factor to improve communication between service providers and users. As part of all Royal Oman Police Directorates commitment to improve their standard of services and provide the best technical concepts providing users with the information they need, notifications and tracking the status’ of services provided to them 24 hours a day. The main objective is the introduction of a new service aiming mainly at a time saving, speedy SMS tracking system for public benefit. ROP employees and higher rank officers are kept up to date with the day-to-day events and happenings within the ROP and also throughout the country.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Infrastructure : Existing ROP data center infrastructure was employed. Hardware : One dedicated SMS server (windows server 2008) Software : SMS gateway version3 Third-party control working under 32 bit OS, IIS7, Microsoft Framework 3.5, SQL Server 2008, Oracle Client installation Human resource : A team of three employees to develop the solution and update it in house. Network : TCP network, VPN to nawras and omantel to process shortcode, Enable outbond Firewall for sending Bulk SMS to Ooredoo, Account permission to run all windows service application

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
As the Scope is scalable, so many directorates came up with ideas to utilize this essential service. This resulted in a higher demand on this Service with innovative ideas. It applies for public when they demand more innovative services through the SMS, which helps in improving the service and utilizing it more, and increase the amount of people that can benefit from the service This Service does improve the accountability of public funds by informing citizens and residents about their traffic fines so that they can prepare their money to pay it. It also informs them about the expiry date of their documents to get them prepared to renew it on time. It helps in giving awareness to people about ROP Services, reduce Traffic fines and violations thus reduce the accidents. It also helps avoiding any issues regarding the renewal of Documents and the problems that might be caused if the renewal was delayed or missed.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The system provides users to send in their feedback, suggestions and complaints through the Contact Us page. Additionally, questions can be posted to various ROP Directorates directly through the 'Ask a Question' in the FAQs section. There is also a 24/7 ROP Operations helpline which could also be used to call in with specific queries and requirements. We have a dedicated team in ROP Public relations whose task is to swiftly respond to user feedback. They also communicate with the relevant directorate and monitor the process of fixing a reported issue and respond back to the users. The system is reviewed and analyzed on a regular basis by all the concerned parties involved to ensure that the agreed SLAs and KPIs are met.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
During the implementation of SMS services, there were many obstacles, but they were handled professionally. 1- citizens/residents mobile numbers stored in the ROP system not correct or changed or he/she has many mobile numbers. To send the alerts properly all ROP departments required the citizens/residents to provide correct and permanent mobile numbers when they get any ROP services in order to receive the alerts and notification properly. 2- ROP staff do not notify their departments when they changed their mobile numbers. The entire ROP department require their staff to update their details including their mobile numbers every six months. In order to make sure they receive their salary details SMS, Public Relation Department notifications and important news or instructions. 3- ROP different systems and projects not integrated. The ROP SMS Gateway is integrated with major ROP projects such as eVisa, ePolice, eCustoms and ROP Call Centers and send out SMS notifications to their users through it.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
As part of the ROP commitment to improve the standards of its services to the citizens/residents through the introduction of the best technical concepts it introduced a new service aiming mainly at providing time saving, speedy follow up, tracking, and Traffic, visa and other online system based on SMS messaging solution and notifications of information without having to visit the office premises. ROP delivered the SMS-based e-government services after considering the expectations and the perceptions of citizens toward using the services. These services were readily adopted as they were easy to use, simple, extensive in coverage, reliable, easy to access, low in cost, saved much time and efforts and reached citizens anywhere anytime including areas with no Internet access. ROP employees were regularly kept updated about various events. Additionally to providing timely alerts, monthly salary transfer notifications were a huge success in reducing the cost of printing and distributing paper slips thus reducing overall expenses. ROP hospital appointment alerts reduced the overall count of appointments unattended. People who could not attend cancel their appointment thus enabling transferring the available time slot to other patients. The SMS Gateway Intranet Application serves as a great communication tool for ROP Operations Directorate and other such departments throughout the Sultanate in keeping ROP Officers, specially the higher ranked ones, informed about the latest activities within the ROP as well as all over the country.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The kind of response with registrations and interaction with the ROP SMS system is received there is no doubt that it is highly successful. Moreover, the ROP staff is much relieved from the heavy work pressure, of human error and can concentrate on doing more productive work with more efficiency. This simple, easy to use, low cost and highly available service has provided many benefits such as instant notifications of various services, accessible 24*7, increased productivity of ROP staff and an overall appreciation for the entire automated and interactive process flow. This service has provided substantial reduction in ROP expenses by providing a cost effective means of sharing monthly salary information and doing away with printing and distribution of paper slips. The integration of SMS gateway with various ROP internal projects have helped these projects in completing their process workflows and also provide an interactive communication medium with their clients and users. Since the implementation of this system was in line with the directions received to enhance the existing services to eServices, the experiences gained from this project can be shared and transferred to other departments to take advantage of its benefits.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
It has not only relieved ROP staff from heavy work pressure and human errors but has also ended up being beneficial financially. With the kind of response received after its launch in terms of adoption rate, there is little doubt of its success. As per the records and the statistics of ROP SMS almost 50,000 (Fifty thousand) active subscribers are always using this facility. More services can be added to this system to benefit citizens, residents and businesses. These services can be further improved by integrating with other government entities such as Ministry of Manpower, Muscat Municipality, etc. The ever-increasing adoption rate within the public as well as the various

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Royal Oman Police
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Yahya Al Hamimi
Title:   Mr.  
Telephone/ Fax:  
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   yahya.al-hamaimi@rop.gov.om  
Address:  
Postal Code:  
City:   Muscat
State/Province:  
Country:  

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