UAE begins testing m-government smart apps

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the United Arab Emirates has established what it describes as the Arab region's first laboratory to test the security and usability of new e-government applications.

The mGovernment Lab will be used to verify the quality and security of e-government applications, and ensure they comply with global standards and best practices. TRA said the lab is equipped to provide full security screening, load testing for applications, and accounts for government entities that want to test applications remotely.

Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, mGovernment initiative director and director general of the TRA, said the facility is an important step towards "protecting both the users and government entities from security threats that might arise from unauthorised applications".

The TRA lab will be available to government departments and universities via a cloud service, and brings the country "one step closer to achieving the goals set out in the UAE mGovernment initiative," Al Mansoori added.

The mGovernment imitative is the brainchild of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. It aims to provide access to government services and information on mobile phones and other technologies, to enable citizens to access services at any time rather than have to wait in line at government offices.

A similar program is underway in Europe: in 2012 the European Commission detailed plans to invest €9 billion into developing e-government services. At the time Neelie Kroes, EC vice president in charge of Europe's Digital Agenda, called for member states to "agree on a list of key cross-border services to be made available online by 2015," and for clear benchmarks to assess the progress of pilot e-government schemes.

Al Mansoori said the TRA's mGovernment lab "will also reinforce the UAE's leading position as a pioneer in adopting mGovernment concepts and cutting edge practices."

The facility has been kitted out with advanced operating systems specifically designed to test smart applications and, despite still being constructed, has already begun testing applications for several government departments.

Meshal Bin Hussain, operations manager for the UAE's Computer Emergency Response team (asCERT) at the TRA, said the lab performs automated tests on applications and then manual tests on those that pass the trial "to assess its strength taking into account the easy of use, security and many other important functions."

He added that the TRA plans to hold workshops for government entities "to further introduce them to the lab and its features and mechanisms."

The TRA told local newspaper Khaleej Times the lab will be fully functional in October.

For more:
- visit the TRA site
- see this Khaleej Times article
- see this mGovernment release

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