Pending Dewa bill notice now on your Facebook page

Could your next Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) warning reminding you to pay your unpaid bill be splashed across your Facebook timeline or a tweet?

Not yet. But according to a latest recommendation by the UAE’s Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA), it is necessary that government entities communicate with the public using all available channels including social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

According to the results of an online opinion poll, a majority of the respondents said they preferred dealing with official channels mainly through email followed by visiting the departments personally. Only then would they opt for the use of SMS, Facebook or Twitter.

However a senior TRA official says government departments should get more aggressive in the use of social media.

“I would like to take this opportunity to stress on the importance of social media tools as new channels to communicate with the public. These channels should be added to the list of traditional means of communication with the public especially in dealing with complaints and enquiries,” said Salem Khamis Al Shair Al Suwaidi, Deputy Director General for Information and eGovernment Sector, TRA.

The poll was conducted through the official portal of the UAE Government and 66.5 per cent of the respondents said they preferred email to other channels in dealing with government entities.

The poll question asks participants, “How do you prefer to communicate with government entities?” The options to choose from are: “email”, “Go there personally”, “SMS”, “Facebook, Twitter, Forum, etc.”, and “Other.”

Of the more than 2,100 poll participants, only six per cent said they preferred to use the social media such as Facebook and Twitter. About 14 per cent of the respondents said they prefer to visit the entity to complete their transactions, 12 per cent prefer to communicate through SMS.

Al Suwaidi noted that many people have reservations about using social media to contact the government especially when it comes to sharing personal data and transactions due to the lack of privacy on such tools compared to emails.

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