Whether smartphones are making individuals smart or dumb can be a different debate altogether.
However, the argument that these devices are making the world smarter is nobody’s doubt, and the way the Sultanate of Oman is moving towards smart governance is a pointer towards this direction. While your phones may be preloaded with apps to help you perform your day-to-day activities efficiently, the increased use of apps has been evident in Oman’s government services.
These days, municipal council elections are conducted via smartphones, while all ROP services and bank transactions are also being done mostly through e-services – making use of technology that is completely customisable now. About the municipal council elections late last year, Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal al Busaidy, Minister of Interior, had said that the government embarked on the modernisation of election procedures in line with its vision towards digital transition.
“The new high-accuracy application was launched, ensuring both secrecy and cybersecurity. This process is fully reliant on artificial intelligence accessible via smartphones to enable the voters from Oman and abroad alike to elect their preferred candidates,” he said.
With e-governance increasingly becoming helpful in the growth story, the concerns of naysayers about ‘too much application’ of technology are found to be not based on reality.
Information Technology experts say there is no proof that digital technology or our phones harm our biological cognitive abilities. Smartphones function as an auxiliary tool, which only enhances our horizon to memorise more, calculate in bigger numbers, and to store more information and present them whenever we need them.
“Life is getting easier because of technology. Phones are becoming smarter, and things are getting easier because of their functionalities. So, things are getting easier now than ever,” said a smartphone user.
The Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology last year announced that the digital transformation programme (2022) included launching of the first phase of the National Unified e-Government Services Portal, unrolling 88 e-services rendered to citizens and businesses, and streamlining procedures and re-engineering of 70 per cent of basic e-government services. In the context of the Royal Directives to continue boosting digital competence and preparedness and to accelerate the pace of e-government transformation, the government has been working on a speedy implementation of the National Unified e-Government Services Portal to serve as a composite platform incorporating all government services.