Is It Really That Smart?!

By: Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Mon 25 July / Jul 2016. 06:33 PM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

The government is overdoing it; this display of the smartcard’s “intelligence”, in issue for a short while now, showing it off as if it were a grand achievement entailing the development of the Civil Status department’s data base.

In truth, this new card, put aside the “name” and looks of it; barely holds any information or data variant from that of the card before it. The new smartcard, mind you the “smart” part; was supposed to contain 18 sections, but now that it has been issued, it only contains 5. Which means that no more than one third of the planned implementation has been executed.

The information it contains now includes personal information on the citizen: their picture, fingerprint, iris print, electronic/digital signature, and blood type. Which does not exceed being a normal citizen ID.

This new card was going to be truly smart, and quite an achievement, had it been implemented wholly, to include all the data. Especially since the card is already prepared to contain all this information, fixed to global standards; which allows for it to preface a transformation in this field of information for future applications, after the primary phase is concluded, gradually.

Official statements, however inaccurate, is dreamy nice, but it does not negate the fact that there is much shortage in the information the new smartcard was supposed to contain, which subsequently means the card is not entirely smart, or at least, not that smart. It does not, so far, contain the “harder” bulk of information, to which some lack any database, including insurance, traffic tickets and violations, national aid, taxation data, social security, and other services and applications.

In the future, to save face; should the implementation of this idea fail, the government will probably explain, after boring long theorisation, that the success of the smartcard project is prefaced by the readiness of respective institutions, technically and technologically, coupled with legislative and legal support in the entry and integration of this data.

Basically, the first phase of the Smartcard project, launched in June through August, includes the issuance of 3 million smartcards, for citizens above 18 years old. In the stages following, data entry is expected to conclude the rest of the fields.

Therefore, it is safe to say that what has been done, so far, is nothing spectacularly fundamental, because the more difficult part, which has been put off; particularly integration and inter-institutional linkage, is at best estimates, difficult to apply. Operators across these institutions realise the scale of obstacle hindering the application of the project. However, should the smartcard project be successfully achieved, which does not seem to be the case, it would be the best planned achievement for in this Country, in a while.

Moreover, another issue needs to be addressed, inferred above, and executed; data entry and cross-department integration through the Civil Status department. Concluding the operation up to its pre-disclosed standards and criteria, within the timetable, proves to the people that there is more to it that just an unintelligent “smartcard”, thus far.

Typically, a failure to construct a database on poverty and unemployment is nothing new, for example; and the same goes for insurance, financial and national aid, as people are usually sent back and forth between departments to finalise a certain paperwork or procedure. Overcoming such challenges, and succeeding with the Smartcard project, requires a joint comprehensive team across all respective departments, presided by the Ministry of Communication and Technology, which is the primary party in-charged with the implementation of the Smartcard project.

In regards to attention, the idea itself received a lot of royal attention. Nothing counts more than His Majesty’s visit to the Department, Himself, to issue his card, which means that failing to meet the deadline or conclude the project will comprise a major problem. Succeeding, on the other hand, requires more than just a PR campaign and field trips by ministers and officials, while real work on the database and its integration is postponed.

To save face, the government can say it is a smartcard, just not so smart “yet”!