The Information & eGovernment Authority (iGA) was presented with the COVID-19 Innovation Award at Smart Cities Summit 2021 for its BeAware Bahrain app, which played a crucial role in helping the Kingdom combat the pandemic. The award was received by iGA Chief Executive, Mohammed Ali AlQaed. The event, now in its fifth year, started on the 10th of October under the patronage of His Excellency the Minister of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning, Eng. Essam bin Abdullah Khalaf. The two-day event, held at the Gulf Convention Centre, saw the participation of 250 representatives of public and private sector entities and international organizations, most notably from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat).
The award recognizes the app’s effectiveness in supporting frontline workers and making all pandemic-related services available to the public on a single platform. AlQaed expressed his appreciation to HE the Minister & summit organizing committee on the awarding. He attributed the BeAware Bahrain application’s success to the directives of Crown Prince and Prime Minister, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who leads the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus. He also praised the support and cohesion maintained by all public and private sector stakeholders, who helped the Kingdom implement the policies necessary to make the BeAware Bahrain project a success. AlQaed added that the app is an important step in Bahrain’s digital transformation journey, which is ongoing in the face of the challenges imposed by the pandemic.
Meanwhile, iGA Geographical Information Systems Director, Shaikha May bint Mohammed Al Khalifa provided HE the Minister a detailed explanation of the Benayat system updates and how it supported during the pandemic. Benayat also provides infrastructure services covering electricity, water, and sanitation, and a geo-navigator service that allows property owners to check building requirements and whether road, electricity, water and sewage services are available at their locations.
Shaikha May emphasized the system’s role in speeding up the building permit process for investment, residential, industrial and commercial projects, including the main services provided to licensed engineering offices, such as permit applications, status enquiries, and services related to building licenses, fees, and more.
iGA eServices and Applications Development Director, Abdullah Ali Al Jowder will participate in a panel discussion on the second day of the event giving the summit audience a look into the The Story of BeAware, during which he will cover the app’s inception and development as team Bahrain, in cooperation with other government entities. He will also outline how the iGA will address challenges presented by the application, and how the Kingdom intends to share its experience regionally and internationally.
iGA Change Management and Business Process Reengineering Director, Donia Faisal Sarhan will participate in a panel discussion entitled Opportunities for Smart Cities During and After COVID-19, where she will discuss the benefits of deploying digital solutions and new ICT practices during the pandemic, and how this is encouraging Bahrain’s cities to become “smarter” and more sustainable as the Kingdom returns to normalcy.
The summit featured more than 20 speakers who reviewed global smart city transformation practices, the challenges facing countries in the transition to smart cities, and the best strategies to overcome them. It included 10 panels discussing smart city initiatives, systems and projects, including the lessons learned and plans for the continued transformation of smart cities in the short and medium terms. Topics covered included smart city solutions, future technologies, waste management, community partnerships for monitoring the environment, implementing sustainable development goals in cities, the future of sustainable energy, and smart police applications.
The iGA also participated in the accompanying exhibition, where it showcased several projects, most notably a geographic information system initiative; the updated version of the National Portal, bahrain.bh, which was launched in early July; and key eServices provided via the portal and other channels.