| Siti Hajar |
THE age of information has taken a positive turn in Brunei Darussalam in the wake of governmental efforts to provide the public, both local and international, with much needed communications to better ease public services and speed up developmental growth in the country.
On the sidelines of yesterday’s Public Service Day 2014 that was held at the International Convention Centre in Berakas, the e-Government National Centre (eGNC) took the opportunity to announce a number of initiatives related to the country’s ambition to encourage an IT-literate community.
Speaking to the media yesterday, a panel of speakers including the Director of eGNC, Muhammad Norshafiee bin Dato Paduka Haji Abdul Jalil, along with project managers for Open Data Portal and e-Darussalam, Pg Adrian bin Pg Salleh Abd Rahman and Siti Zurainah binti Hj Zainal Abidin respectively, explained that the agency is scheduled to launch www.data.gov.bn this coming Monday as another addition to its list of expanding services.
The website, a centralised portal where government agencies can publish non-sensitive and non-personal data to be shared with the public, has received contributions from four main government agencies including the Department of Economic Planning and Development, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.
An initiative that has “in support of and to promote open data” in mind, the materials that are to be found on the site contain 300 datasets that will be made available for downloads with documents as recent as 2013 and some dating back to the 1970’s.
“The aim is to allow the public to analyse these information and therefore encourage the identification of new areas for investment and innovation,” they explained, while ensuring that the public is provided immediate access to such documents especially for researchers as well as students.
An undertaking that took an approximate three months to compile, the agency acknowledged the challenges that its personnel had to overcome during its setting up including encouraging these agencies to add to the cause and towards enriching the site’s contents.
However, “They have been forthcoming and helpful in assisting us towards building this platform and we thank them for it,” it was expressed.
As furtherance for easy access to information, the e-Darussalam website at www.gov.bn has been given a facelift with the objective to focus on user-friendliness through easier navigation when compared to the site’s previous design and concept.
Introduced to provide basic directory services to the public, the website has been categorised to better serve the community based on public groupings including categories catering to ‘Citizens’ and ‘Businesses’ by way of streamlining information specifically for such groups thus making information easier to find.
“Since the website was launched in 2011, there have been certain trends that have taken place in the field of ICT and the upgrade was needed to ensure that we were keeping up with these changes in terms of the look and feel among which includes better access through mobile devices,” with a number of additional features.
As an extension of this change will include a forum feature, which has yet to be launched, that will enable the public to directly communicate with government personnel based on high level forum topics that will be set by eGNC.
With terms and conditions that will include the disallowing of spams and offensive content, participation in the forum will not be anonymous. Those who wish to take part are required to register with the website that will include the declaration of an individual’s IC number and name.
Among others, the portal provides information such as, but not limited to, titahs, circular, speeches, policies and legislations as well as a ‘Citizen Centre’ along with over 100 downloadable forms and 38 varieties of e-services.
At present, the agency has seen an increase in the number of registered users with a total of 13,896, out of which are 9,955 active accounts. The new user interface, it is hoped, will encourage more public participation.