Innovation in governance must be data-driven, says OECD deputy chief

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s deputy chief commended the UAE for its efforts in technological government advancement

Eman El-Shenawi

Published: Updated:

OECD Deputy Secretary-General Mari Kiviniemi on Tuesday stressed the importance of data-driven innovation in governance.

Speaking at the Government Sumit in Dubai - an annual conference focusing on how governments can handle a changing world - the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s deputy chief commended the UAE for its efforts in technological government advancement.

“The UAE is ahead of the curve in digital governance in the region and applying technology for public sector innovation,” she said in her keynote address titled “Shaping Future Governments.”

The UAE had introduced the Mobile Government initiative in 2013, when the country’s Vice President and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum challenged government entities to offer 24-hour public service by the end of the following two years.

The OECD official added: “Technology has become an important enabler in the way citizens interact with government,” but warned the future should technological enhancements to governance continue to be “citizen-driven, scalable and experimental to allow for change.

“Trust can be restored between citizens and governments through transparency and innovation,” she added. Technological impacts on economics, politics and security issues was also a top theme at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting of world leaders in Davos last January.

The OECD is a forum where the governments of 34 democracies with market economies work with each other, as well as with more than 70 non-member economies to promote economic growth, prosperity, and sustainable development.

In her speech, Kiviniemi said 2015 marked the 10th anniversary of the bloc’s cooperation with the Middle East North Africa region.

Big data

Also at the Government Summit, the Chief Innovation Officer at computer giant IBM, Dr. Bernard Meyerson, gave stark statistics on data use.

“90 percent of the data in the world was created in the last two years,” he said. “In governance, this is the challenge we face. We recognize the need to create new data analytic tools.

“We used to carry out data mining, which is like looking for the needle in the haystack. But the use of data analytics now accounts for the whole haystack, every bit of data. It's important to have the ability to deal with big data.”

With an “innovative” focus on how governments can handle a changing world, a total of 87 countries will be participating in this year’s UAE Government Summit.

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon and Queen Rania of Jordan were among more than 100 international speakers at the three-day event running from Feb. 9 to 11.