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COVID Travel: How Microsoft tools have helped Abu Dhabi’s tourism authority during the Covid crisis

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A view of Dubai's Burj Al Arab hotel
                      PHOTO: A picture of Dubai’s 7 star hotel Burj Al Arab ( source: theculturetrip.com)

We all know that the digital world has come to stay and is sure to keep evolving and improving. With the outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic, it is only safe we would trust the digital system to give us a loophole to use and help save our traveling industry.

The is precisely what Abu Dubai did with Microsoft during the Covid 19 crisis. Being one of the top-notch places for tourism and artificial intelligence The UAE government immediately put in place strict measures to control the outbreak, such as closing offices and hotels When the pandemic struck. While the decision disrupted the operational patterns for many organizations, others, such as the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT) were well prepared from a technology perspective.

The DCT was amongst the first government departments to go into Microsoft datacentres based in the UAE, set up a virtual crisis center using Surface Hub 2S devices and Microsoft Teams, the first of its kind within Abu Dhabi. The department also began managing the communication between stakeholders with virtual collaboration Microsoft 365 tools and Teams that helped it scale rapidly when the virus struck.
The Microsoft ecosystem allowed us to respond both safely and quickly,” says Peter Jamieson, chief technology officer, and director of Digital Transformation at DCT.

“We used Teams, Surface Hub 2S, and Surface Pro 7 to coordinate remotely and work with our key stakeholders. It sounds like a simple thing, but it’s incredibly powerful for us to collaborate when we can’t be together.”

Saeed Ali Obaid Al Fazari, acting executive director of Support Services adds: “DCT values the importance of innovation and technology to build scalable, flexible, secured, and sustained ecosystems and increase the efficiency of business operations.

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“Using all these [Microsoft] products has enabled DCT to work more efficiently. Time in meetings are reduced. People are more productive. Customer experience is visible. We are interested in giving the best experience for the customers as well our employees,” he states.

According to reports; in less than a year into the launch of the project, a thorough workplace modernization was already underway with the rollout of Microsoft cloud technologies driven by Surface devices. About 1,500 users began working with Microsoft Office 365 E5, and an ongoing Teams deployment allowed for location-independent meetings that met stringent government requirements for security.

The systems were designed to detect threats early and respond, even before IT teams are notified. Microsoft security teams also constantly monitor systems. “With security, the toughest thing is giving people access to the right things,” says Jamieson. “With Microsoft 365, because I can send someone a link that is either time-locked or bound to their ID, I know the right person is opening that file. If I do make a mistake, I can recall the message with confidence.”

Also, the DCT is investing in virtual reality, augmented reality, and AI to explore what the technologies can do for the department and Abu Dhabi. One example is the reality headset Microsoft HoloLens 2 which will help reimagine how museums can be experienced by schoolchildren.

The DCT has a bold vision to boost Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector and is depending on digital to help turn that vision into reality.

“The DCT is automating complex, time-sensitive government operations, enhancing workflows, and improving our ability to anticipate and mitigate technical problems. All this translates into a more effective, efficient, and available organization that better serves our internal customers, citizens, and visitors alike,” says Jamieson.

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