What is eGovernment?

The term eGovernment is understood differently across the world. EGovernment or Electronic Government is the delivery of more convenient, customer-oriented and cost effective public services and sharing of information through electronic media. Specifically, eGovernment harnesses information and communication technologies (such as Wide Area Networks, the Internet, and mobile computing) to transform relations with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government.

What is the difference between eGovernment and eGovernance?

EGovernment is the transformation of internal and external public sector relationships, through Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in order to optimize government service delivery and citizen participation. Digital society is a society or community that is well advanced in the adoption and integration of digital technology into daily life at home, work and play.
EGovernance is the development, deployment and enforcement of the policies, laws and regulations necessary to support the functioning of a Knowledge Society as well as of eGovernment.

What are the objectives of eGovernance?

The strategic objective of eGovernance is to support and simplify governance for government, citizens and businesses. The use of ICT can connect all three parties and support processes and activities. Other objectives are to make government administration more transparent, speedy and accountable, whileaddressing the society’s needs and expectations through efficient public services and effective interaction between the people, businesses and government.

What are the benefits of eGovernance?

EGovernance offers many benefits and advantages for the government, businesss sector and society. EGovernance facilitates better delivery of government services to citizens, improved interactions with business and industry, citizen empowerment through access to information, or more efficient government management. It simplifies internal operations and improves performance of government departments while helping all segments of society to avail government services at lower cost with maximum ease of use.

Tell me more about the eGovernance Model.
EGovernment applications normally evolve through a four-stage process. The four stages are Information, Interaction, Transaction and Transformation. The first stage includes the publication of information on a website for citizens seek knowledge about procedures governing the delivery of different services. The second stage involves interactivity. Clients can download applications for receiving services. The third stage involves electronic delivery of documents. The fourth stage involves electronic delivery of services where more than one department may be involved in processing a service request or service.

Tell me more about each stage in the eGovernance model.
There are three main target groups in every eGovernance model, including government (G), citizens (C) and businesses (B). Abbreviations such as B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Consumer) are used to describe the interactions between the various groups.

Information Phase
In the first phase, eGovernance means, a presence on the web, providing the public (G2C & G2B) with relevant information. The format of the early government websites is similar to that of a brochure or leaflet. The value to the public is that government information is publicly accessible; processes are described and become more transparent, which improves democracy and service. Internally (G2G) the government can also deliver static information with electronic means, such as the Internet.

Interaction Phase
In the second phase, the interaction between government and the public (G2C & G2B) is stimulated with various applications. People can ask questions via e-mail, use search engines, and download forms and documents. These can save time. In fact, the complete intake of (simple) applications can be done online 24 hours per day. Normally this would only have been possible at a counter during opening hours. Internally (G2G) government entities use LANs, intranets and e-mail to communicate and exchange data.

Transaction Phase
With third phase, the complexity of the technology is increasing, but customer (G2C & G2B) value is also higher. Complete transactions can be done without going to an office. Examples of online services are filing tax, extending/renewal of licenses, visa and passports and online voting. Third Phase is made complex because of security and personalization issues. E.g. digital (electronic) signatures are necessary to enable legal transfer of services. On the business side, the government is starting with eprocurement applications. In this phase, internal (G2G) processes have to be redesigned to provide good service. Government needs new laws and legislation to enable paperless transactions.

Transformation Phase
The fourth phase is when all information systems are integrated and the public can get G2C & G2B services at one (virtual) counter. One single point of contact for all services is the ultimate goal. The complex aspect in reaching this goal is mainly on the internal side, e.g. the necessity to drastically change culture, processes and responsibilities within the government entities (G2G). Government employees in different departments have to work together in a smooth and seamless way. In this phase cost savings, efficiency and customer satisfaction are reaching highest possible levels.

What is e.oman?

e.oman, the Sultanate of Oman’s eGovernance initiative, is built on His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s vision to create a Knowledge Society in Oman. Spearheaded by the Information Technology Authority (ITA), e.oman aims to create an effective government-community-citizen infrastructure that provides better public services to people, resulting in a meaningful information flow between the government and citizens.

What is e.oman’s mission?

e.oman’s mission is to create a Knowledge Society in Oman and transform the Sultanate into a Knowledge-based Economy. Whether you are a citizen, resident, visitor, business enterprise or government entity in Oman, e.oman offers you a wide variety of convenient, cost-effective and customer-oriented electronic services that will empower you and transform your life for the better.

What advantages do e.oman offer to Oman?

e.oman leverages ICT for economic and social gain to enrich the lives of the people of Oman. Integrating government departments to provide better and more efficient public services, helping people acquire ICT skills required to live in a knowledge society, helping businesses save more time and money through smart electronic services, developing local ICT industries, building a secure foundation for eCommerce transactions and minimizing the Digital Divide are some benefits can be achieved through e.oman.

What is the Internet?

The Internet, or simply the Net, is the publicly accessible worldwide system of interconnected computer networks that transmit data and information. It is made up of thousands of smaller commercial, academic, domestic, and government networks. It carries various information and services, such as electronic mail, online chat, and the interlinked Web pages and other documents of the World Wide Web.
What is Information and Communications Technology (ICT)?
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) or Information technology (IT) is a broad subject concerned with technology and other aspects of managing and processing information. In particular, IT deals with the use of electronic computers and computer software to convert, store, protect process, transmit, and retrieve information. Today, ICT is used to describe the convergence of Information Technology, Telecommunications and Data Networking Technologies into a single technology.

How is ICT making a difference to our life?

ICT has made a huge impact on almost every aspect of our daily lives - its power influencing engineering, health, aerospace, communications, education, research, banking, finance, defense, entertainment to name just a few. Over the past few decades, ICT has contributed to real social, economic and cultural development in countries right across the world. Indeed, ICT has opened up opportunities for millions of people not only to earn a living but also to contribute to the social and economic progress of their respective communities.

What is a Knowledge-based Society?

A knowledge-based society in which the government has transparency in its operations and exhibits vital statistics about the economy in general, its plan for future, current social and economic indicators in such a manner that it can be easily accessed by all segment of the society.

individuals in the knowledge-based society are empowered with relevant and current information so as to bring out their potential strengths in transforming the society with enhanced skills.
In general ICT has enabled an info-technological revolution by which there is greater connectivity, improved efficiency, enhanced productivity, renewed economic diversity, and increased job opportunities within an empowered knowledge-based society.

What is a Digital Society?

A Digital Society is a modern, progressive society that is formed because of the adoption and integration of Information and Communication Technologies at home, work, education and recreation.

What are the features of the Digital Society?

In a Digital Society, people avail various government services, pay their bills and taxes, access important information and register companies through an online gateway that works 24/7. People prefer reliable and secure electronic transactions to cash. All residents are issued national identity cards based on smart-card technology that enables biometric authentication with a capability for multiple-applications such as personal identification, financial transactions, medical records and employment status in a single card. Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) will create more job opportunities through technology parks, IT incubators, and call centers. All governmental units are electronically connected with each other and providing better public services. People will be highly IT literate and will use eGovernment services to improve their lives. Lastly, a digital society will boast of highly advanced telecommunications and wireless connectivity systems and solutions.

What is meant by a ‘Digital Divide’?

'Digital Divide' is the term used to describe the growing gap, or social exclusion, between those who have access to and the skills to use ICT and those who, for socio-economic and/or geographical reasons, have limited or no access.

What is Oman doing to bridge the Digital Divide?

Oman is working towards bridging the Digital Divide by involving the entire community as partners in its mission towards creating a digital society. Efforts are underway to raise IT literacy levels through formal training and inclusion of certified IT qualifications, especially in the educational and government sector. Additional measures taken include providing affordable Internet and telecom access to remote regions of the Sultanate and endowing the entire community with subsidized e-Learning facilities.