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Azerbaijan ahead of many countries in creation, development of digital government services

31 May 2021 11:50 (UTC+04:00)
Azerbaijan ahead of many countries in creation, development of digital government services

By Trend

Azerbaijan is ahead of many countries in creating and developing digital government services, Fariz Jafarov, director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center, said in an interview with Trend.

"The E-GOV Development Center developed several projects both at the state level and the government-to-business (G2B) and government-to-citizen (G2C) segment projects in connection with the spread of COVID-19 in 2020," the director of the E-GOV Development Center added.

Jafarov stressed that the "SMS Permission System" and the icaze.e-gov.az website, which allowed all business sectors to provide their employees with special permits, was developed in 2020.

"Moreover, by sending an SMS to the short number 8103, citizens could obtain permits to leave their houses for certain purposes," the director of the E-GOV Development Center said.

"During the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Azerbaijani citizens sent 112 million SMS to 8103," the director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center added. "Following the rough estimates, about seven million Azerbaijani citizens have used the services of this system."

"Another strategic project at the state level is a project that allows managing the country's water resources," Jafarov said.

"An information system of e-water management has been created to calculate the balance of incoming and outgoing water from the country, as well as water used by various industries," the director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center said.

"Moreover, the Center developed the Cimerlik.az project, through which citizens could register to visit the beach," Jafarov said.

Jafarov said that a unified register system of the property of Azerbaijani citizens destroyed by the Armenian military formations was developed during the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh war and post-war periods.

"An e-document management project was developed for all state agencies in late 2020," the director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center added. "All state structures through a single system can use the state document flow. Hundreds of state structures have been integrated into the E-government website as part of e-government."

Jafarov said that the Center ensures communication between various state agencies in the digital transformation process, the development of certain websites, enlightenment of citizens, and various events.

"In this sphere, the Azerbaijani citizens and at the same time, journalists were provided with information about the state projects and the possibilities of their application through the Digital Journalism program," director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center said.

"It is worth considering both the protection of physical state information systems and the safety of using digital government services by the population in the field of ensuring cybersecurity," Jafarov said.

"In the field of ensuring the security of citizens, we launched the ASAN Login project for authorization on government websites of Azerbaijan," the director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center said. "This unified system was developed for state and business structures of our country and ensures authorization of citizens on the websites of various institutions."

Jafarov stressed that earlier citizens were required to be registered separately on each website.

"After the introduction of a single ASAN Login system, the authorization on the state websites does not require additional registrations," the director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center said.

"Moreover, the protection of state systems is ensured by the data center created by AzInTelecom LLC under the Azerbaijani Ministry of Transport, Communications, and High Technologies," Jafarov added.

"This is the first data center in the South Caucasus that meets TIER III and ISO 27001 security standards," the director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center said. "This center conducts various procedures to ensure the physical security of information and network infrastructure, as well as a number of other spheres under the international standards."

Jafarov added that in accordance with world practice, potential threats come from the organization itself, that is, the human factor plays a key role.

"We have created special standards for employees, the rights and responsibilities of who regulate their activity in a particular information sphere," the director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center said. "Moreover, we have developed ASAN Bridge national system for the secure exchange of information among organizations."

"This system allows exchanging information among state agencies through a single gateway," Jafarov said. "Moreover, the information is transferred in encrypted form, which nullifies the possibility of third-party use of this data."

"Moreover, it is planned to complete the integration of all state structures into a single system within the ASAN Bridge project, which will simplify the process of rendering services to the population," director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center said. "Thus, citizens will not be required to give additional documents from various structures."

"The Center ensures the security of the information system at every stage," Jafarov said. "As part of the G2B partnership, we send the information about citizens only upon their consent to the banks, non-bank credit organizations, and financial institutions."

"When applying for a loan, a citizen must indicate a personal identification number of an identity card (FIN) and sign an application for authorization," the director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center said.

"There is no need to give documents," Jafarov said. "This process is carried out directly by us."

"Following the European standards (the General Data Protection Regulation - GDPR), every citizen in his/her personal account on myGov is notified of a request for his/her personal information by some structure," director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center said.

"In case of suspicion about any third-party views, a citizen can file a complaint and receive more detailed information about the views of the data," Jafarov said.

While speaking about the audience of the E-GOV Development Center, Jafarov said that it can be divided into several groups, namely, services for the state, business, various structures, and the population.

"Some 1.3 million people have been registered on the E-Government website," the director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center said. "There are more than 525,000 users on the MyGov website, where more than 710 services are rendered to citizens."

"Moreover, about 20 systems have been integrated into MyGov, and this website renders proactive services to citizens," Jafarov said.

"In accordance with our concept, reactive services are services that are rendered to citizens upon their request," the director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center said. "As for proactive services, the state warns citizens about a service which should be received in the first place and this allows increasing the audience of our websites."

Jafarov also stressed that about two million citizens have been registered in the single ASAN Login authorization system.

"The ASAN Login system was commissioned in 2019 and has a huge audience that is growing rapidly," the director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center said.

"The users of state services are divided into certain categories in Azerbaijan as in other countries," Jafarov said.

"There are approximately two million social media users in the country," the director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center added. "In other words, the use of digital services does not cover all citizens of the country in Azerbaijan, as in other countries."

"The Center has recently developed a project of regional digital executive power, which means that the services of over 79 local executive bodies will be rendered online," Jafarov said.

"At the first stage of launching the website, we continue to consider the requirements of our citizens, the services they need and we will develop the project in accordance with them," Jafarov added.

"Some 15 ASAN services are currently operating in the Azerbaijani districts," the director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center said. "This means that citizens can use the services of our government not only in the online format but also have the opportunity to visit the centers of ASAN services and receive services on spot."

"The Center's approach to meeting the needs of the country's citizens is to apply innovative solutions and flexible management models," Jafarov added.

"The Center's specialists monitor the requirements of Azerbaijani citizens, as well as monitor innovations and digitalization for their further implementation in the Center's state projects," the director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center said.

"As such the technologies as rendering of services through fingerprints, biometric data are developing, the requirements of the population are also evolving," Jafarov said.

"Today, our citizens not only want to receive services through these technologies but also want to do it completely remotely, without visiting the service centers," Jafarov added.

"The introduction of personal data of Azerbaijani citizens into the state information systems in the future may require citizens to refuse from identity cards," the director of the Azerbaijani E-GOV Development Center said.

"Taking into account all these desires and realities of the modern world, we monitor the most advanced solutions based on blockchain technologies, the development of services through cloud technologies, the introduction of artificial intelligence, augmented reality and a number of others," the director of the Center said.

"Moreover, a separate department called Data Lab was created at the Center in 2020," Jafarov said. "We have applied artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data engineering in our projects within this department."

"These innovations serve different functions in different spheres," the director of the Center said. "For example, through the ASAN Visa project, we interview tourists who have used the services of this project while machine learning evaluates the survey results."

"We have taught machines to evaluate positive and negative reviews and in the further stages there is no need to read hundreds of thousands of reviews," Jafarov said. "The model groups the reviews of tourists and gives us data in connection with their complaints. We use the final results in the process of making the appropriate decision."

"Moreover, it became possible to predict the needs of citizens through the use of artificial intelligence in MyGov projects," the director of the Center added.

"We can make forecasts about the period when any state service will be required for an individual citizen," Jafarov said. "Tracking global trends, as well as the development of social networks allows using the simplicity and familiar functions of social networks in the state projects of our Center."

Jafarov also spoke about the application of the experience of the Center in several foreign countries.

"The development of the Center's projects is divided into several spheres," the director of the Center added. "The main strategy for the development of services for 2022–2025 not only is the creation of digital projects for the public and private sectors, but also the export of these services abroad."

"The ASAN service model is currently used in Afghanistan and a number of other countries," Jafarov said. "Moreover, the ASAN International Association has been created, which includes Morocco, Montenegro, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Afghanistan, and some other countries."

"The ASAN Visa project is already being applied in a number of countries," the director of the Center said. "The permitting system developed last year has been used in Kazakhstan. We also share our developments, experience, and knowledge with the UN and learn from the experience of other countries. We are ahead of many countries in terms of the services we have created and the solutions we offer."

Jafarov said that the Center plans to expand the area of construction of e-government in the next few years.

"In these spheres, it is necessary to form a legal framework, involve the Azerbaijani citizens in the digitalization process, develop new services, expand the innovative knowledge of the population and several other aspects," the director of the Center said.

"Our development strategy also includes strengthening of information security, protection of identity, expansion of the capabilities of managing data centers," Jafarov said.

The director of the Center emphasized that the main idea of development is to render continuous e-government services.

"In this regard, it is planned to expand the services of websites, pay much attention to the digitalization of the projects, simplify the processes of using services, reduce paperwork to zero, as well as increase the export potential of the Azerbaijani products," the director of the Center added.

"Another goal of developing the services of the Center is to spread the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning, accelerate and automate a number of services," Jafarov said.

"In the field of cybersecurity, we plan to increase the basic knowledge of citizens and conduct qualifications for employees of state agencies working with the digital projects," the director of the Center added. "During this year it is planned to continue the work on the project of a regional executive power center and digitalize about 40 services for citizens living in the Azerbaijani districts."

The Center was founded in 2018 upon the order of President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and operates under the State Agency for Public Services and Social Innovations under the President of Azerbaijan (ASAN Service).

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