Open Government Data & Best Practices Symposium closed yesterday with good attendance from public & private entities

Open Government Data & Best Practices Symposium closed yesterday with good attendance from public & private entities

June 05, 2013

The Open Government Data & Best Practices Symposium, which has been organized by the Information Technology Authority (ITA) over the past two days at the InterContinental Hotel Muscat – Jabrin Hall, ended yesterday with high participation. More than 200 attendees from a wide range of public and private institutions participated alongside an international participation of a number of lecturers from the Kingdom of Spain, the Kingdom of Sweden and Malaysia, as well as a number of IT specialists from ITA.

Day Sessions

The agenda of the second day contained three different presentations. The first paper was presented by Mr. Kim Andreasson, Managing Director of DAKA Advisory, in which he talked about the best policy recommendations to enhance the eGovernment services performance and eGovernment measurement and re-engineering to achieve excellence. Mr. Andreasson also highlighted the issue of building capacity to develop eGovernment strategies, involving benchmarking, and the public sector adequate awareness about relevant statistical concepts.

In an interview with Mr. Andreasson, he identified the Sultanate position in using eGovernment services, saying: “According to the stages and the UN overall ranking, Oman has been progressing very nicely in the last couple of years and specifically in the online services index which matches the availability of eGovernment services. Oman progressed from 55th in 2010 to 35th in 2012 and this can be broken down by the different stages of eGovernment. Oman is doing extremely well in the first and second stages which are the basic website presence and enhanced website presence. Now, the challenge for Oman is in the third and fourth stages relating to transactions and connected governance. In the last two stages, people start to see connectivity between not only citizens and government and government and citizens, but also between government and departments. Oman is in a good position in eGovernment since it is moving up and taking the right decisions. Looking forward, I see that Oman has a strategic plan in achieving the eGovernment since it is now in the stages that requires complex implementation.”

Mr. Matthew Rajendra, Regional Director, Green Computing Institute, Malaysia, presented the second paper about Green ICT and the ways of ensuring efficient and sustainable use of information and communications technology in ways that are eco-friendly. Mr. Rajendra talked about creating the Oman knowledge society in a responsible way by the efficient and sustainable use of ICT, and ownership and adherence to national standard in Green Computing by establishing a wider framework for sustainable progress. He also called upon building a balance between modernization of service delivery and conservation of Oman’s resources and preservation of its clean environment, and promoting eco-friendly behavior through best practices within the community at work and homes.

Commenting on Green ICT implementation in the Sultanate, Mr. Rajendra said: “Green ICT in Oman is still in infancy stage and there is a lot that has to be done before we can see some solid results. I believe that governments have to lead by example because green ICT is innovation. Government and academia are the ones who should take the lead to have this innovation implemented.” With regard to the best tips in green ICT, Mr. Rajendra said: “To achieve fast results, countries should start with greening their data centers because in any country the top ten energy consumption consumers are typically the data centers since they consume a lot of electricity. Out of 100% of the electricity used in a data center, 50 % to 60 % is used to cool the data center and 10 % is used for the IT equipment. Cooling a data center is costing money and environment, hence when greening a data center, we have to find ways on how to reduce the cooling requirements. Virtualization is another way of greening a data center, which means reducing the number of physical servers that a data center has, since each physical server can has many virtual servers in it.”

Mr. Rajendra also encouraged every person to start saving energy by following some easy tips, saying: “Everyone can work collectively to reduce the energy in his/her PC. Some of the tips that one can do is to activate the power management feature in his/her PC and reduce the monitor brightness in the electronic devices. With regard to the end users, some people buy computers with large power supply units when they don’t need them. Also, computers used for graphic designing may consume more electricity than a normal computer. Indeed, people should size their computers according to their needs.”

At the end of the day, Hussein Al Rahbi, Health Safety and Environment Engineer at ITA, highlighted ITA’s Green Initiative and displayed a video that showed the steps for implementing the initiative.  A panel discussion was held at the end of the symposium in which several inquiries were raised by the government employees attending the symposium.

In an interview with one of the speakers at the Symposium, Jose M. Alonso, Program Manager, Open Data Program Manager at World Wide Web Foundation, talked about the methods of speeding up the process to have OGD, saying: “Opening up data from government is something not easy and takes time, and this can be possible only by targeting the end users who will benefit from the data as early as possible in the whole process. Moving from paper-based to electronic data is not a difficult process. It all depends on the quality that you want to achieve.”

Open Government Data Portal

Talking about the ITA’s efforts to encourage the OGD, Fatma Al Riyami, Director Operation Excellence at ITA, said: "The OGD portal has been launched at the Official eGovernment Services Portal (Omanuna), and currently it contains data on 55 issues including education, business, ICT use criteria, laws and decrees. More open data will be added later on. Currently we are working on implementing a Big Data Competition for the best idea of the open data, and its details will be announced soon. The main aim of the competition is to enable the public with authentic government data and make use of this data. We hope that the community of academics, students, researchers, businesses, and others actively use open data that has already been published in the portal.”