Please briefly describe the initiative, what issue or challenge it aims to address and specify its objectives. (300 words maximum)
The GovTech Programme is an initiative that was launched in 2013 and stems from the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. It aims to stimulate and encourage government entities to provide innovative solutions via mobile phones, in efforts to better deliver services to citizens and improve people’s lives. Strengthening technological infrastructure through innovation (Goal 9) for betterment of society and people through strong partnerships (Goal 17) and inclusive solutions is what the GovTech Programme aspires to do. It focuses on 3pillars:
1. Identifying and Sharing the best in class; solutions today on local and global level
2. Not leaving anyone behind; conducting global competitions for finding solutions to common global challenges through technological innovations
3. Preparing the world for a better future; rewarding governments that are experimenting with emerging technologies to improve people’s lives
The Programme started as means of strengthening public institutions’ digital transformation through engaging youth, particularly university students, to work with governments to improve digital services.
Following the success at the national level, the initiative was scaled internationally in a 3year programme building capacity in other countries; Jordan, Uzbekistan Egypt, Greece and Senegal and implement GovTech programme in their countries.
In 2016, the Programme further expanded its reaching out to Global startup communities to pioneer technological solutions to global challenges and the SDGs, including Goal 6 on clean water, Goal 7 on sustainable energy, Goals 12-15 on environment, goal 2 on hunger and food security, goal 3 on health and wellbeing, among others, working with lead international organizations (IBM, EY, INDRA, Consensus, Angel Hack and MIT Tech Review). The winning start-up innovations were showcased at the World Government Summit, a global platform dedicated to shaping the future, supporting governments worldwide to deliver wellbeing to their citizens, and tracking advancement, impact and sustainability of their solutions afterwards.
Please explain how the initiative is linked to the selected category. (100 words maximum)
The Programme is aligned with enhancing the effectiveness of public institutions to reach the SDGs by working with government entities in the UAE as well as global governments to provide creative and innovative solutions via mobile phones to access government services that are easy, efficient and transparent. The ultimate goals is to better deliver government services, contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and improve quality of life in the UAE and partner countries through disseminate successful practices for possible replication.
Moreover, the GovTech Programme, through its knowledge initiatives and hackathons, helps support entities to find solutions to solve global common challenges through technological innovations that help build effective public institutions. As such, it strongly supports SDG 16 on strong institutions and SDG 17 on partnership to achieve the goal and other goals like.. over 180 local government entities have benefited from this initiative and 5 countries have replicated the programme while over 160 countries had the opportunity to provide solutions to global challenges through the annual global best mobile government service application award, global hackathons and startup competitions.
a. Please specify which SDGs and target(s) the initiative supports and describe concretely how the initiative has contributed to their implementation. (200 words maximum)
The Programme supports sharing knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries. The mGOV award has successfully been launched in countries like Jordan, Uzbekistan and Egypt, Greece and Senegal.
To help support these countries, we run targeted capacity-building programmes to enhance the use of enabling technologies, in particular information/ communications technologies, and improve overall government services.
Moreover, the focus of engaging youth /university students, as well as the startup community, builds a new form of partnership between the public, private and civic sectors, in support of SDG 17 (partnerships).
b. Please describe what makes the initiative sustainable in social, economic and environmental terms. (100 words maximum)
On the social front, supporting, integrating and investing in youth is essential to achieving the 2030 agenda. This programme focuses heavily on engaging students, youth and startups in providing innovative smart services in their governments and other governments of the world. It provides a platform for direct partnership, as well as broader exposure and potential to generate business and jobs.
On the economic front: improving services using technology supports marketplace transformation, improving living standards and increasing international trade, among others. This focus supports SDG 8 (Decent work and Economic Growth) and SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) While on the environmental front and in support of SDG 13 (Climate action), integrating technology in government entities can help in optimizing their operations and service delivery to reduce their carbon footprint through better utilization of resources and reducing visits to government service centers to receive services.
a. Please explain how the initiative has addressed a significant shortfall in governance, public administration or public service within the context of a given country or region. (200 words maximum)
One of the key pillars of the GovTech Program is to ensure that there is no one left behind.. this has been done through the strategic programs that a run with countries like Jordan Egypt Uzbekistan and now Greece and Senegal in the form of exporting knowledge to help support in their digital transformation through creating similar programs in their respective countries and run awards like Crown Prince award in Jordan Uzbekistan M-Gov Award and Egypt Award for government smart applications and more.. these programs are run over three years and the support is provided through capacity building, training technical and support system as well as financial support.
Also the program runs global competitions virtual and physical for students entrepreneurs and start-ups on challenges on common global challenges to find solutions through technological innovations.. So your solutions are the birth of these global competitions the likes of Clean Water AI and cycle project as well as Hypergive and Made Of Air all of which supports the SDG is directly and showcased to the world through the World Government Summit.
b. Please describe how your initiative addresses gender inequality in the country context. (100 words maximum)
GovTech ensured the inclusion of women through encouraging the participation of female students by 40% and highlighting the significance of women in STEM. The proportion of female students in ICT colleges is 65%, and the programme provided an opportunity for them to apply their skills to boost their profile for the job market thereafter. This is in line with supporting the goal to increase Women in management in STEM fields from around 30% to 50%, a national priority as well as SDG 5 on gender equality. The number of female entrepreneurs in the programme is minimum 2 to every 5.
c. Please describe who the target group(s) were, and explain how the initiative improved outcomes for these target groups. (200 words maximum)
Another key pillar that the Programme focuses on is the organization of the global startup competitions and virtual hackathons in efforts to focus on projects that solve common challenges to ensure that there is no one left behind. In 2017, the blockchain virtual Govhack oversaw 131 projects from 41 countries. In 2018, the World Virtual GovHack oversaw 67 projects with over thousand participants Stimulating science and technology for development is strongly in line with SDG 9.
a. Please describe how the initiative was implemented including key developments and steps, monitoring and evaluation activities, and the chronology. (300 words)
The implementation took place in the form of competitions, hackathons, roadshows, round tables along with showcasing success stories globally. This also included an exchange programme as part of knowledge transfer in order to replicate the GovTech Programme across five countries.
Yearly global competitions were held for best Mobile government service applications on a global level with thousands of participants taking part reaching over 4000 participation and special competitions were held for university students in the country with hundreds participating each year.
Yearly hackathons were also held to attract solutions for common global challenges from over 60 countries and over a thousand participant in each competition.
The Programme also included extensive roadshows, webinars, roundtables that focused on the implementation of digital technology as well as emerging technologies to come up with solutions to solve common global challenges as well as support digital transformations in governments.
It also included knowledge transfer and capacity building through replicating a similar program across 5 other countries and supporting them for a period of 3 years each.
Showcasing top solutions at the World Government Summit as means of disseminating knowledge to over 140 countries and over 4000 participants that attend the summit on yearly basis.
b. Please clearly explain the obstacles encountered and how they were overcome. (100 words)
Having to deal with different cultures and different countries and implementing a similar program that we are replicating from a fast paced country in less fast cities was a bit difficult and challenging to the teams and to the heads of organizations in those countries..but it was a learning experience on both sides which meant we had to work together to come to a middle ground so those countries who are slightly on a slower pace had to move faster and visa versa and do things where they fit more with the culture of that country. The key thing was to agile.Another challenge was the level of the technical maturity across these countries and we had to support transferring knowledge as well as technology to the other country while also ensure improving systems and building capacity of these countries.
And finally having to conduct some of the competitions virtually introducing team members from various countries to form teams and work together turned out to be more of an advantage despite the challenge as it allowed for people to create this online virtual community and to form teams from different countries and different domains to who work together and come up with different solutions.
a. Please explain in what ways the initiative is innovative in the context of your country or region. (100 words maximum)
Clean Water AI - Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and microscope camera to measure water safety through detecting dangerous bacteria and harmful particles in the water source. The AI detects water contamination, updates the map and gives users information about water safety in real time. This has the potential to save 2 billion underprivileged people who drink contaminated water today, in support of SDG 6.
Cycle Project - A Watson based "Internet of Things” platform that allows users to generate renewable clean energy and give access to electricity by selling or exchanging any excess electricity that has not been consumed back to the grid in the form of tokens to trade in community and foster prosperity. This project started as a prototype in Colombia in 2017, and Cycle group are currently working on taking their solution to Africa n. It can potentially serve 1 billion people who live without electricity today and are now being approached by the UK government to showcase their work.
Smart tenders project helps governments to have open and highly reliable procurement processes using Blockchain while allowing for citizen participation and evaluation of smart contracts to ensure that the winning bidder is the one with the greatest social benefit.
b. Please describe, if relevant, how the initiative drew inspiration from successful initiatives in other regions, countries and localities. (100 words maximum)
In 2019 – the competition evolved to the biggest series of connected global hackathons in 5 major cities, focusing more on startups and City Specific GovHack Challenges and Round table discussions
An example of a winner is “Made of Air” from Germany - Made of Air is a bio-char-based material, made of 90% atmospheric carbon, designed as a sustainable alternative for construction, interiors, furniture and much more.
c. If emerging and frontier technologies were used, please state how these were integrated into the initiative and/or how the initiative embraced digital government. (100 words maximum)
We had a specific award for those governments that are experimenting with emerging technologies. the Award was running from 2017 for three consecutive years under the GovTech Programme and it rewarded governments that took the risk to experiment with emerging technologies to improve people's lives.
Moreover, one of our Global Virtual Hackathon under the GovHack Programme was specifically to solve global challenges using Blockchain as well as most of the winning solutions have some sort of an emerging technology Involved.( please see sample of the winners interviews in the background documents)
a. Has the initiative been transferred and/or adapted to other contexts (e.g. other cities, countries or regions) to your organization’s knowledge? If yes, please explain where and how. (200 words maximum)
Jordan, Egypt, Uzbeksitan and now just started with Greece and Senegal. In terms of adaptability, the way we made sure the program adjusts to changes in different environments through customizing the GovTech programme in the respective countries through being understanding their needs and challenges and working with the teams on the ground in those countries to have the best fit of the Programme. Moreover, the GovTech Programme went through challenges in order to ensure sustainability due to COVID19. Programme continued its functions through the difficult times of Covid-19 through transforming parts of the programme to be fully digital and will continue to do so as part of the new normal.
b. If not yet transferred/adapted to other contexts, please describe the potential for transferability. (200 words maximum)
Please see above
a. What specific resources (i.e. financial, human or others) were used to implement the initiative? (100 words maximum)
The Programme saw around 800K a year to be implemented between running the programme, conducting events, inviting winners to UAE to show case their products at the Government summit as well awarding the winners ( financial awards that reached up to 500K)
Asforth countries.. around half a million dollars was allocated per country per year and will run for a period of 3 years.The top three winners were also provided monetary compensation for their applications in efforts to improve their initiatives.A team of 3 members from the UAE and 5to7 from the counterparts/ host country to work on implementation,
b. Please explain what makes the initiative sustainable over time, in financial and institutional terms. (100 words maximum)
The capacity Building that is happening in the countries will allow the teams in those countries to conduct this programme on their own and with time many sponsors of technology will actually want to take part due to its success and level of attention it gets from the respective governments.
Also for winners that are winning these competitions, their own and other governments are approaching them and are providing them with more funding to continue their projects or providing them with incubations to allow them to pursue their innovations.
a. Was the initiative formally evaluated either internally or externally?
b. Please describe how it was evaluated and by whom? (100 words maximum)
Yes it was - through an independent organisation called Excellence Tetralogy -
Professor Mohamed Zairi
Emeritus Professor and CEO of Excellence Tetralogy
(full report of the evaluation is attached )
c. Please describe the indicators and tools used. (100 words maximum)
The evaluation report is done specifically for UNPSA - describing how it contributes to The United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda of 2030 and its goals.
(full report of the evaluation is attached )
d. What were the main findings of the evaluation (e.g. adequacy of resources mobilized for the initiative, quality of implementation and challenges faced, main outcomes, sustainability of the initiative, impacts) and how is this information being used to inform the initiative’s implementation? (200 words maximum)
Professor Mohamed Zairi's report
"The GovTech Programme is a shiny example of government transformation, meeting the requirements of the United Nations Award aims. The Programme places great on emphasis on innovation and governance, the impact generated in enhancing public services to an excellent level, creating new models for service design, service delivery that address the whole population's needs and expectations through experience-based orientation and human-centered design. The approach used by the UAE Government through its GovTech programme, is to constantly disrupt the existing thinking in search of better ways, in search of excellence, and with the mindset of exploring and exploiting future opportunities by working on future generation of advanced services, that are even more fulfilling at a higher level. Lastly, the GovTech programme fits perfectly in the area of knowledge transfer and sharing in a limitless manner the best practices. This provides ample opportunity for transferring the best thinking that exists in the UAE Government to other countries, in order to replicate, adapt, adopt and further enhance their services."
(full report of the evaluation is attached )
Please describe how the initiative is inscribed in the relevant institutional landscape (for example, how is it situated with respect to relevant government agencies, and how have these institutional relationships been operating). (200 words maximum)
The GovTech Programme is as initiative within the Government Services Sector at UAE Prime Minister’s Office as a whole, while the partnerships and capacity building initiatives are run through the strategic bilateral initiative between the UAE and the respective country.
We also work with other stakeholders like IBM, Consensys, Indra, MIT Tech Review, Angel Hack, federal government entities as well sponsors like communication and ICT companies (Etisalat, Du, Zein including the private sector the likes of Axium) as well as others to conduct to deliver the programme.
As for our competition with worked very closely with various number of international jurors to objectively judge these competitions
Judges were from various countries and independent 3rd party experts in the field of technology.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development puts emphasis on collaboration, engagement, partnerships, and inclusion. Please describe which stakeholders were engaged in designing, implementing and evaluating the initiative and how this engagement took place. (200 words maximum)
The main stakeholders for the GovTech Programme were the countries that we exported the GovTech Programme to.For example Jordan, Egypt
The stakeholders were heavily involved in the GovTech Programme through customization of the programme from the start to the end as we the project team worked very closely with host country and the developed the programme jointly. The first rounds were a learning exercise for both the UAE and the host country whereby the programme was being implemented in a similar manner to the way that it was initiated originally in the UAE alone. But with constant feedback from the stakeholders, we were able to improve the programme in the host countries as well as to UAE’s own programme and it is still improving.
On the GovHack series where we ran the global startup competitions, we worked closely with the countries like India, UK, Chile, USA, Germany and their entrepreneurship communities and startup hubs to see how best we can benefit from solutions based on countries and their challenges through interviews with people.
Please describe the key lessons learned, and how your organization plans to improve the initiative. (200 words maximum)
The main lessons learned are focused around being agile and agile enough to work with other cultures and transfer knowledge and build capacity based on needs and also adapt to needs and changes to maximize the benefits for all. Not every solution works in every country. For example, exporting the GovTech Programme to other countries require that we study the country carefully before coming up with the programme and work it through w/ the host country while ensuring maximum benefit. Each country requires a different type of support; some were more focused on outreach and required help, others were mainly focused on how to engage students and get the best out of them. For some, technical learning was essential to leverage the ICT sector and build capacity and provide support on the technical level.The other main lesson learned its worth investing in innovations that one day may save the world and for that we need to continue to follow up with the those who have benefited from the award and keep supporting them to ensure that the innovative solutions that they come with, are pushed further and taken to the next level until one day they are reality.