On leveraging partnerships with the private sector to improve public services
To what extent do you see an opportunity to integrate Saaed’s offerings with government services in the short to medium term?
IBRAHIM YOUSEF RAMEL: Because the government outsources part of its traffic management services to us, Saaed’s services are already integrated across the UAE through a linkage with the main police control centre. The final step in this process will be to activate these services, after which they will be fully operational. This applies not only to our services for minor accidents and car breakdowns, but also for responding to emergencies, assisting people involved in accidents, e-parking and law enforcement. We cover all such events, and our inspectors have the authority to respond accordingly. As such, we are connected to a wide variety of government entities.
What role do technology and digital platforms play in the delivery of traffic management services and raising road safety awareness?
RAMEL: Technology and digital platforms have become important and valuable tools for stakeholders in the field of traffic management and road safety, improving processes and increasing efficiency. The government has established strategic partnerships to enable innovations in electronics and smart solutions to contribute to service development, including artificial intelligence-assisted traffic management services. Saaed’s 2018-22 strategy is aligned with this digitalisation vision and contributes to it by working with our partners and facilitating them in realising their core mandate to boost the emirate’s competitiveness.
Efforts are also being made to improve the public’s traffic awareness. We have analysed traffic data and reports to determine geographic patterns of accidents, the demographics of accident-responsible parties and factors that may have contributed to accidents, such as distracted driving. We use this information to identify possible ways to reduce accident rates through targeted awareness campaigns in coordination with public sector partners and other concerned entities.
In what ways can public-private collaboration be further encouraged to deliver services such as traffic management and road safety enforcement?
RAMEL: The privatisation of traffic management services has been so successful that other government entities have looked into similar partnerships with the private sector. We strive to use this model to increase the UAE’s competitiveness and improve the experiences of both residents and visitors. An example of this is the Emirates Vehicle Gate, an integrated electronic platform for vehicle registration. There are also opportunities in smart car parking services, smart radars, accident management systems, centralised operations chambers, radar vandalism reduction systems, smart compliance and discipline systems, and workshop classification systems. These all help enhance smart city safety and security.
Public-private partnerships have been utilised worldwide to bring better results and higher revenues to projects, make government services more efficient and stimulate technological upgrades. While private companies tend to have efficient business cycles and high adaptation rates for technology, the government has a key role in encouraging further investment as well as boosting their own involvement in traffic management and road safety, thus improving the services provided to the general population.
How do you envision the future of autonomous urban mobility, and where does Abu Dhabi stand in this regard?
RAMEL: We are living in a world where disruptive innovation is a driving force that brings technological progress, cost reduction and customer happiness. The latter is a relatively new focus, as customer satisfaction has traditionally been the standard. Nowadays, businesses work to ensure that provided services not only meet customer expectations but exceed them, and that the overall experience is memorable. For example, taxis are no longer only a transportation service but also an experience of mobility enhanced by smartphone applications with real-time traffic information.
People in Abu Dhabi are oriented towards the future. I expect disruptive innovations to be the main driver of progress moving forwards. While there is uncertainty in the applicability of autonomous urban mobility, especially in terms of parking, tariffs and payment systems, I am confident innovations will meet the challenges to come. The best way to predict the future is to invent it.