Why is the Smarter State relevant to us as citizens of the state, what benefits and what are the challenges?
As citizens we don’t have a choice about dealing with the state, it provides the services no one else will, or can!
How long did you have to wait for your hospital appointment, how big is your children’s class size – these and many of our other day to day touch points are suffering from a lack of resources. Under the austerity measures still in place this situation has and will get worse without some radical changes. Population growth and demand on resources is going one way, while funding and spending is going the other!
This means the reality is one of two outcomes –
- the quality and speed of service provision declines over time
- new more efficient ways of providing the services are created
Tony Blair introduced the e-Government agenda at the start of the millennium, and over the last 20 years, there have been great strides made in the use and attitude towards innovation and technology by the Public Sector; equally there have been some massive failures which have wasted billions of pounds!
The creation of a Smarter State will help to improve all of our lives significantly, and at the same time reduce the cost of delivering the services we as citizens need.
The use of technology is key to the creation of a Smarter State, it provides the ability to link up the disparate sources and stores of information which is key to the State and its assets becoming Smart.
Over the last few years there have been some massive steps forward in technology (think of how Smart Phones have changed your life – information at your finger tips, Google maps, hailing an Uber); and this will continue moving forward with the advent of 5G over the next few years. Many new “Smart” services will be created and deployed; and most of these will rely on the real time movement of data (autonomous vehicles, drone deliveries, Smart devices that react to events in real time etc etc).
So with this in mind, surely the Smarter State is a no brainer?
It will allow us to reduce the costs associated with delivery, as well as give us quicker access to services and providing a holistic view of every touch-point we have with the state. If we were starting today with this goal in mind it would be relatively easy, but we are not, and it is challenging due to the legacy systems and processes that dominate our Government.
The creation and success of the Smarter State is dependent on the real time movement of data and access to information in real time.
The rapid rate of technology advancement is going to help to deliver the Smarter State, and will be a huge game changer for the Public Sector in the next 2 decades. 5G, drones, autonomous vehicles, the IoT and Smart everything have the power to deliver new capabilities and efficiencies. Drone deliveries for prescriptions, home health care and more services delivered via Apps will significantly reduce the cost of service delivery. Reduced congestion through Smart traffic routing will save time and deliver significant reductions in pollution and congestion; efficient power consumption across smart electricity grids will help to reduce energy use and will have environmental benefits to us all. AI and ML will save time and money, and increase the speed of processing and research, which will speed up the delivery of new services and capabilities. For our security services the speed of being able to identify someone at as being a threat is critical; and this requires real time data movement and links to multiple systems and organisations.
It is the movement of data in real time that is the key to solving many of these challenges. Due to the complex, disparate nature of Government, and the technological legacy of the last few decades; the data it holds is often stuck in one place and incapable of being shared. This limits the value the data can have. Decoupling the tightly integrated applications that collect this data, and allowing it to be accessed in real time by other departments, research organisations and other 3rd parties will create huge societal benefits.
The growth of new technological capabilities and connected devices over the next few years will empower a huge wave of innovation that spans society as a whole, and which the Government will be forced to play a leading role as a legislator, a scrutinizer and in a key delivery role as the State starts to become Smarter.
Delivering the Smarter State is a huge task, but the benefits to all of us are potentially enormous and span all aspects of our touch points with Government and the services that it provides, so it is in our interests that the Government seizes the opportunity!