Technology in Government: Cloud and Safe Experimentation

In the previous article, we covered the first four trends as identified in the Government Trends 2020 report by Deloitte. There are a total of nine trends: so in this article, we will cover the remaining five.

Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics is the use of AI and big data to attempt to peer into the future, so to speak. Access to an ever-expanding set of data has led to an increased number of applications for this information. Examples of government use include counter-terrorism, increasing preparation for natural disasters, and predicting cyber-attacks.

However, the involvement of government in predictive analytics is also dangerous, even aside from the security and privacy issues. Predictive modelling may be helpful, but to what extent can it be wrong? Use of predictive analytics without proper governance may lead to a world of thoughtcrime before we know it.

Cloud

Deloitte highlights the “cloud” as an innovation driver for governments and the world. Basically, the decentralisation of all computing and data storage makes the development of new technologies even simpler. This allows extreme computing power to be at the fingertips of everyone. Complicated software environments can also be packaged and deployed incredibly easily.

Again, AI and big data benefit significantly from this decentralisation. Instead of needing a local processor to perform AI-related calculations, somebody can outsource this to server farms around the world. Similarly, the storage of big data may prove too much for a home storage solution. You could host your cloud database to store this information or use a service.

'Cloud' just refers to any decentralised or remote internet service. All of these services aren't connecting to the same cloud. Government services may encompass one or more of these.
‘Cloud’ services can cover just about every kind of online interactivity. Image Source: Fastmetrics

A final note about the cloud is its importance for productivity. A variety of cloud-based services enhances collaboration within companies (including Fonseka Innovations). These are used to significant effect and include Slack, Trello, BitBucket, and StoryChief. Governments will also benefit from this, as will all citizens.

Safe Experimentation

The cloud section above leads directly to this next point: innovation through safe experimentation. The relative ease of development and availability of resources allows solutions to be built, tested, and deployed quickly. Governments the world over are taking advantage of this. Now, they can push resources in the general direction of their developers to eventually produce working systems.

In this case, the developer does not need to worry about the actual system, as docker has defined rules and guidelines to follow.
Docker is a service that simplifies deployment. Image Source: Docker Documentation

A vital facet of this is the ability for developers to use external systems to their full benefit. With the amount of information everyone has access to, any developer will easily find an open, free project online that will be able to be adapted for their purposes. As with innovators in all fields, software developers are standing on the shoulders of all of their predecessors.

Smart Government

As well as having digital citizens, governments are increasingly looking towards creating digital environments—smart ecosystems for healthcare and education. Smart platforms to share smartly-collected information between government and private entities. This use of technology allows collaborators to leverage the other’s strengths and mitigate their weaknesses. Smart campuses for education, allowing more efficient learning. Smart airports and military bases for vastly improved efficiency and security. All of these “smart” government areas should be a vast boon to citizens if handled well.

However, smart regions may be the most exciting development that affects the internal operation of governments. A large group of local governments, such as towns, states, or even densely packed countries may want to share information about their citizens for the benefit of them all.

Citizens as Customers

The relationship between a citizen and government right now is relatively difficult to define. Moving to treat citizens as customers may be necessary for maintaining the value the governments are expected to provide. The primary benefit will be human-centred design, as governments will shift their focus to one that offers high value and an excellent user experience to its citizens.

Co-design would be another benefit to a customer-focused relationship with citizens. Citizens would be able to vote on government projects, from either a design or implementation perspective. Governments could attempt to develop solutions that please the most significant number of people. This also allows the private sector to be more involved, and even allows them the opportunity to present their ideas to the government to be considered.

Final Thoughts: Technology in Government

Of course, all of this is vastly simplified, and there are many more aspects of technology in government to discuss. Each of the above points touches on its topic, nothing more.

What do you think about technology in government? Feel free to respond with your thoughts.

Again, for further information, read the Deloitte report on these topics. This article is just a summary of it, so be sure to check it out.

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