I went today to the Abu Dhabi Systems & Information Committee (ADSIC), a governmental agency in charge of defining ICT standards for the Abu Dhabi Emirate. Their goal is to make sure that every IT implementation (whether hardware, network or software system) for public authorities, administrations and public companies complies with high-level quality standards.
They are managing a great deal of projects and I had just the chance to speak a bit about some of them. It definitely worths a mention their work on Architecture & Standards. They produced a 340 pages book with detailed guidelines (which they call the Abu Dhabi IT Architecture & Standards Framework) on how to implement IT systems, giving a close view at every possible part of the process, starting from the modeling techniques way down to the infrastructure and to the "operations" needed to maintain the system. For every layer of the framework they provided detailed explanations and a set of "standards", that is a reference list of technologies whose use may be "mandatory", "recommended" or still "under observation". The overall quality is very good even if I spotted an incredible mistake in the chapter called "Web Server" that most definitely need some technical editing.
Another very interesting project I spoke about today is the Abu Dhabi Spatial Data Infrastructure (AD-SDI), an "umbrella" name under which they have defined their ambitious GIS strategy. There's also a lot going on in this field (e.g. two GIS portals, one for the public and the other one for governmental agencies): but the best one for me is the fact that they are going to set up the strategy (from the technical, the legal and the administrative viewpoints) to allow a full geographical data exchange between governmental agencies.
To put it simple, each agency manages its own private data (e.g. archaeological data sets for ADACH, environmental data for the Environment Agency and so on) and is the sole entity responsible for those data. But they can get all the geographical information created by the other agencies through AD-SDI. This way the agencies can use a remarkable number of data-sets, all up-to-date and verified, minimizing the risk of duplication and mistakes.
Also if some data can be provided only by external suppliers (e.g. satellite photos) a special license will be acquired in order to allow the use of the data for all Abu Dhabi governmental agencies: one buys, everybody uses.
I also spoke, although very briefly, about their strategy regarding service integration. It is a new initiative and probably too soon to talk about it. For the curious there's a small presentation in their web site.
Kudos to the ADSIC people for their great job! Abu Dhabi has still to fill up the technological gap with the most advanced countries but it is definitely projecting itself into the future at remarkable speed: will Italy (or Europe in general) keep the pace?