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Call to Train the Elderly
Source: Gulf Daily News, by Ahmed Al Omari, http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=387622
Source Date: Sunday, October 12, 2014
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: Bahrain
Created: Oct 14, 2014

Bahrain's older generation must be given training in new technology if eGovernment services are to be successful, according to a visiting United Nations (UN) observer.

Manned kiosks dotted around the country offering a "one-stop shop" for all government services could be set up to complement the existing eGovernment website and associated mobile apps, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs interregional adviser for eGovernment Richard Kerby told the GDN.

He was speaking yesterday at the Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence and Spa on the sidelines of this year's UN eGovernment Survey launch in Arabic, which ranked Bahrain 18th globally and first in the GCC for electronic governance.

"Information needs to be made really easy to find," he said.

"People need to have easy access to information and they need to have the ability to use it as they see fit.

"They need to be given multiple chances to use services and get to know how to use them - so the next step for Bahrain should be the setting up of eGovernment kiosks."

These kiosks would be able to offer every service that is currently provided through face-to-face interaction in government offices, Mr Kerby said, cutting down on the time it takes people to get things done.

"Now a service can be great, but it is useless unless it is being used - so public participation is a big factor in eGovernment and one important area that we see needs work is elderly participation," he said.

"To get older people using the systems, they need to be taught and an elderly education programme would seriously help."

Meanwhile, Mr Kerby's colleague UN Public Administration and Development Management Division eGovernment branch chief Vincenzo Aquaro, said more could be done to make it easier for people to pay for government services - perhaps by using their mobile phone.

"There are applications on smart phones that can provide value-added services, but the next step is being able to pay by using your phone not through mobile banking but through the phone line itself," he said.

"People will be able to just top-up their phone lines with credit and their bills for everything will be charged from that."

As eGovernment services develop, it will inevitably lead to a drop in the number of front-line staff needed to man desks and answer phones, Mr Kerby added.

However, eGovenment Authority chief executive Mohammed Ali Al Qaed said yesterday that job positions were opening up all the time for programmers, coders and those with experience in web design.

"With that in mind, we have a new initiative in its early stages to introduce computer coding to Bahrain's education system," he said, adding that the country was working towards having all its eGovernment services accessible on smartphones and other devices before the next UN eGovernment Survey in 2016. ahmed@gdn.com.bh

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