Innovative Public Service in Azerbaijan

Innovative Public Service in Azerbaijan

In a modern world, one of the vital tasks of government is to keep their citizens informed in time what is happening around them. Because timely information delivery to the public could play a critical role for making decisions and forming opinions in their daily life. And this information flow supports democracy and accountability in the country. In Malaysia, the ministry of agriculture sends Short Message Service (SMS) to farmers’ mobile phones alerting them of increased water level thus enabling them to take necessary steps to avoid any potential damage to their agricultural lands. In addition, mobile technology is helping Estonian people to vote for elections through their mobile phones without physically being present since 2005.

In Azerbaijan, a new mobile ID project, ASAN Imza, created on the initiative of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, allows citizens to use a mobile phone as a form of secure electronic ID. Like the ID Card, it can be used for accessing secure e-services and digitally signing documents, but has the advantage of not requiring a card reader. Currently ASAN Imza is being used only for tax purposes, but in a short time it will cover banking, finance and parking areas as well.

As a matter of fact, m-government plays a complementary role to the e-government, such that m-government could improve the quality of life many individuals who were previously digitally excluded. Specifically, mobile technologies enable convenient access to public information and services. Citizens in remote areas can, for example, receive improved m-health assistance, notifications and emergency medical alerts.

It should be noted that m-government is not intended to eliminate existing on-line and off-line modalities of service delivery, but it affords powerful and transformational capacity to the public sector not only by increasing access to existing services, but also enabling the design and delivery of new services.

However there are also several obstacles in the way of m-government. Firstly citizens should be ready for the new trend in public service delivery, such as they have to be informed about these services and its merits. Secondly, there should be necessary infrastructure and systems to support this new technology. Thirdly, all the above-mentioned services have to be customer-centric. To elaborate that, m-government should be built on the requirements of citizens rather than the government agencies.

Finally, the application interfaces should be designed in an easy manner to make it more usable. In addition, security issues and privacy of the data have to be top priorities in this new trend.
Kamal Jafarov is secretary-general of the Azerbaijan Lawyers Confederation