President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday said with timely decisions and preparedness on digitalization, Pakistan can make great strides in technological revolution. “Pakistan will be catapulted in the era of technological advancement if it keeps making fast decisions to join the global digital journey,” he said in his address at the Digital Government Summit held here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr. The summit, themed ‘Innovative technologies on transforming the public sector’, gathered information technology and digital policy experts, besides taking onboard the officials of Google Cloud via video-link from Singapore. Organized by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication in collaboration with TechValley Pakistan, the digital summit focused on Google-powered innovative technologies to transform the public sector. President Alvi said in the age of information overload, it was important for countries like Pakistan to adopt innovative data management tools offered by Google Cloud and find solutions for public services. He said the global pandemic made digitalization imperative for the delivery of public services including education, healthcare, transportation, security surveillance and building smart cities. “The future is changing faster than you think. The digital evolution is imminent,” he said, stressing the importance of pursuing the government’s vision of a Digital Pakistan. In the education sector, he said, the information and academic knowledge was no longer limited to books, but could be accessed through the data available at Google Cloud and other digital platforms. He said Pakistan could greatly benefit by helping its students and professionals join the global digital club of knowledge and ensure their access to the academic lectures of international standards. As an enthusiast of emerging technologies himself, the president recalled that during his political canvassing in 2016, he personally handled the data of his constituencies by putting ‘layers’ on the Google Map, leading to an increased efficiency to win the election. Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haq sharing the government’s vision of a Digital Pakistan said his ministry would collaborate with Google Cloud and TechValley in adopting the cutting-edge technology in areas including block-chain technology, artificial intelligence, finding industrial solutions and building smart cities. Taking the challenge of COVID-19 lockdown as an opportunity, he said, his ministry took the steps to improve connectivity in ensuring facilities in education, health and finance. He mentioned that 100 million people at present were using broadband facilities, adding that a spectrum auction was an option to gain US$ 1 billion. The ministry achieved the export target of US$2.1 million US dollars with a further target set for US$3.1, he added. He announced that 5G service would be launched by next December. Also, Beep, a mobile chat platform like WhatsApp would be introduced, initially for the government employees. Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood said after COVID-19, the canvas of the education system in Pakistan was changed with the introduction of distant learning through television and radio schools. He pointed out the challenge of ‘digital divide’ and said focus would be laid on ensuring e-learning facilities to the students in remote areas for an access to academic lectures and teachers’ training. He said the Ministry of Education was working with Google Cloud and TechValley to launch a project in Islamabad based on the concept of blended technology by experimenting with smart boards, tablets and smart phones as per different age groups. Also, the lectures of Khan Academy are being translated into Urdu for facilitation of students, he added. Federal Minister for Railways Senator Azam Khan Swati said Pakistan Railways was heading on the path of digitalization and productivity as Google Cloud and TechValley had introduced cutting-edge technology to make the institution an emerging public department. By the end of June 2022, he said, Pakistan Railways would become a profitable public sector entity through technological solutions in environment-friendly transportation, increased passenger and freight trains, checking scrap theft and outsourcing of dry ports. Managing Director Google Cloud for Asia Pacific Paul Wilson in his video address from Singapore said Google was collaborating with public agencies to support economic development aligned to the situations, especially during COVID-19. He expressed pleasure that the government of Pakistan was endeavouring to achieve better outcomes across the public sector through employee productivity and effective agency operations. He mentioned that Google expertise could be applied to build government solutions in streamlining workflows, intelligent transportation, health and human services platform, smart and sustainable cities and the remote office and finance platforms. CEO TechValley Pakistan Umer Farooq said as a partner with Google Cloud and the Ministry of IT, his company was promoting the culture of technology to pave the way towards economic development. He mentioned that TechValley had so far trained 8,000 professionals and conducted 5,000 workshops on areas such as access to world class services, industry solutions and real-time analytics. Head of Managed Services Providers Google, Sean Lim joined via video-link.