The digital future of public services has never had more potential than now.
I’m not talking about teleportation, flying buses and robot servants – though I’d be interested to see any of those become a reality.
No, I’m talking about something much more grounded. Much more achievable. And much more useful to the everyday citizen:
Previously unseen digital technologies, powered by the cloud, designed to serve the public in new and better ways.
The cloud itself is nothing new in the public sector, of course.
Since the government launched its Cloud-First policy back in 2013, public sector organisations have collectively spent billions of pounds on cloud technology through the G-Cloud procurement framework.
But 90% of organisations have experienced difficulties migrating to a cloud solution, according to a survey by Cloud Industry Forum, with 43% citing complexity as a migration issue – the most-cited issue by far.
In part (quite a big part), it comes down to infrastructure.
Because however big your ambitions are, however far you can stretch your budget, if core foundations like your network aren’t right you’ll never fully realise the benefits of cloud technology.
Paving the way for improvement
In a previous article for techUK I talked about some of the amazing opportunities we’ve already seen in policing and justice. Opportunities made possible by cloud-based technology, underpinned by a modern network.
Police drones, for example, can be fitted with high-definition cameras and used to help officers on the ground. They can help cover a wider patrol area, capture crime scene footage in a safer and more detailed way, or even stream live video back to command and control direct from an ongoing incident.
2018 also saw the UK’s first virtual court case, where the claimant appeared on a video link and the lawyers and judge were in separate countries.
In the health and social care sector, too, there have already been some incredible developments.
Telemedicine is on the rise, where medical staff can consult and diagnose patients remotely through a live video link.
And medical researchers are increasingly using artificial intelligence to look for patterns in health data and work towards cures to complex diseases faster.
This is just a tiny snapshot of the potential that’s out there. But all of it depends on having the right foundations in place to support it, making it work securely and effectively for both the employees who use it and the people they serve.
It starts with your network
As I mentioned at the start of this article, the main barrier to powerful, lasting digital change in the public sector lies in the ageing infrastructure most organisations are working with.
When you adopt a modern network like SD-WAN (software-defined wide area network), you’re no longer tied down by that infrastructure.
You can quickly test and build new cloud-based technology. You can keep up with rapidly evolving needs of staff and citizens without the headache of overhauling your entire infrastructure. And you can do it all securely.
So next time you think about transforming public services for the better, think about starting with improving your network to lay the right foundations.
By Martin McFadyen, Head of Public Sector, Virgin Media Business
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