DSG's Governance and Innovation Program Participated in the first UAE Government Summit and launched a report titled "New Frontiers for Citizen Engagement: Impact of Social Media on Public Services in the UAE Federal Government"

The Governance and  Innovation Program (GIP) at the Dubai School of Government partnered with the UAE Prime Minister’s Office to conduct a national survey to examine how the UAE federal government and UAE customers are utilizing social media tools for service design and delivery. This report aims to shed light on public attitudes towards the use of social media for services delivery as well as provide an assessment of the patterns and trends of social media usage within federal government entities.

The report is intended to provide decision makers with research-based analysis to help understand the current status of social media utilization in government entities and the impact on service delivery.  

Social Media and Government Service: Key Findings

Positive attitudes towards the use of social media prevail amongst UAE citizens and residents: Research findings indicate that UAE customers have high expectations about the advantages of using social media for service delivery. Most respondents agreed that engagement through social media for service delivery presented benefits such as increased service accessibility, improved quality of services, inclusiveness and reduced costs. The receptiveness of UAE customers to government driven citizen engagement efforts appears to be high. This presents a fertile ground for government initiatives aimed at involving citizens in the service design and delivery process.

Potential to Engage: Usage patterns amongst customers indicate a gap between customer expectations of social media and realities. The research findings indicate that federal government social media pages are frequently visited by a large number of UAE customers. However, visitors to these pages are not utilizing them for gathering information on services, engaging in service delivery or providing feedback on services.

Understanding the Risks: UAE customers appeared aware of the risks involved in the use of social media for service delivery. Research findings indicate that though UAE customers have high hopes for the implementation of social media in service delivery, they were aware of the risks involved in doing so. Cyber security, negative participation, lack of proficiency by public entities and invalid information all emerged as possible risks. 

State of Social Media within the UAE Federal Government: UAE federal government entities are already utilizing social media to inform the service design and delivery process. Most ministries and many UAE federal government institutions and authorities maintain a social media presence. Many federal government respondents to this survey indicated using social media for service design and delivery. Most entities posted information on their social media pages at least once a week with many posting several times a day. Currently, social media pages are primarily used to disseminate information on events, accomplishments and federal government news. Feedback provision on social media pages remains customer driven, not embedded within the service design or delivery strategies or processes.

Resources Allocation: Resource allocation for the use of social media in service design and delivery exists but was, in some cases, limited. Most government entities responding to this survey have personnel designated for the purpose of managing social media pages and accounts. However, these employees are in many cases juggling social media responsibilities with other roles within the organization. Additionally, few responding entities allocated resources for the collection and analysis of information from social media pages and accounts.

Framework for Engagement: The UAE E-government has developed government-wide social media guidelines. Indeed, frameworks for the use of social media in federal government exist and are implemented by the majority of responding entities.

To reach its intended outcomes, citizen engagement for service delivery is dependent on sustained customer participation in government driven efforts and the leveraging of the knowledge and experience of customers. Positive public attitudes and customer willingness to engage through social media is key to exploring the opportunities available for such initiatives. As such, to harness the potential of this advancement, government entities need to adapt existing strategies, approaches and operations and to the service needs and expectations of their citizens. 

The link to the Arabic version of the report can be found at: http://www.governmentsummit.ae/assets/images/publications/DSG_report_ARABIC.pdf