In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the UAE’s Ministry of Community Development (MOCD) has switched to using digital channels for government services. The department said it is relying on the use of digital identity by citizens, blockchain systems, and chat systems to complete requests.
The department’s responsibilities include establishing social welfare institutions for the disabled and issuing marriage licenses.
The MOCD said it has stopped receiving paper documents altogether through its customer happiness centers (UAE’s version of customer service center) and is accepting approved digital documents instead.
“This step confirms the ministry’s commitment to ensure the continuity and flexibility of all government services in light of the directives of the smart government to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Hessa Essa Buhumaid, UAE’s Minister of Community Development.
The Emirates News Agency reported that the MOCD has been using blockchain for digital authentication of official certificates and other documents. Currently, the blockchain system can process 2,919 different types of documents. Now, the ministry will provide services through its website and smart applications, with additional support via e-mail and telephone.
The goal is to deter the public from visiting government offices and service centers. Digital identity is used for accessing government services remotely.
The UAE Pass app is a national digital identity solution developed by Smart Dubai, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and Abu Dhabi Digital Authority. It allows smartphone-based verification of a user and will enable them to e-sign documents.
The UAE has been bullish on distributed ledger technology (DLT), with numerous projects across different sectors in the country. Within the government, the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has a blockchain platform for storing healthcare and pharmaceutical data. It is also using blockchain for health worker credential checks.
A few months ago, UAE’s Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities said it partnered with Tech Mahindra for a blockchain-based land registry system.