To make the most of your techUK website experience, please login or register for your free account here.

07 Jun 2024

Post-Digital government: citizen-centric, personalized, equitable

London Tech Week blog from Nortal

The next stage of digital transformation in public services, known as the post-digital era of government aims to provide high-quality and equitable services that elevate the citizen experience. This goes beyond technology-first approaches currently adopted by many governments.  

In this post-digital era, technology has become foundational in most parts of society. Estonia, known as one of the most technologically advanced public services, has used advanced technology since the mid-1990s. By removing paper and moving services online, Estonia created eEstonia, where 99.9% of public services are online.  

The data-based society, digital infrastructure, and trust in digital services allow for a reimagining of how services operate and their value. Though, high-profile public sector failures, such as ​​DWP errors that left over 200,000 pensioners £1.3bn out of pocket, highlight ongoing integration issues. Despite technology’s societal foundation, the public sector struggles to seamlessly integrate it into everyday life.  

What does post-digital look like?

A global digital gap in public services 

There is an imbalance between the public sector, private sector, and individual citizens. Innovative enterprises surpass public sector counterparts in digital adoption. Similarly, digital exclusion can foster distrust in technology and government, hindering public sector digitalization.   

In the UK, the public-private digital divide has led to government failures in providing seamless digital experiences, that are expected from the private sector. Issues like the failed rollout of online childcare support systems, NHS patient waiting times and “lack of credible strategy” to combat digital exclusion has done little to stem the tide of disappointment. In fact, the UK ranked in the bottom third of countries for confidence in the government in 2022.  

Other G7 countries, such as the US, Canada and Germany, also struggle to match the outcomes seen in Estonia and the Nordic countries. Trust between lawmakers and citizens differentiates successful models. For instance, the Norway’s government has consistently delivered high quality services, resulting in high voter turnout and trust in digital services. 

The evolution of digital governance 

In advanced digital societies, digital methods are integral to public services, creating expectations for governments to simplify and enhance citizen interactions. Gen Z, in particular, expects efficient, understandable and quick government communications, reflecting their daily digital interactions.

However, the complexity of social issues and global trends is pushing governments to rethink public service provision. For digital experiences to succeed, trust in the system and user proficiency are essential.

What post-digital governance actually looks like 

Trust and cooperation between authorities and citizens are vital for a data-based society. Governments need to shift from a traditional regulatory approach to focusing on citizen experiences. Citizens should not navigate through numerous state institutions to access services. For example, HMRC's push for digital channels has coincided with increased call waiting times, assuming all citizens can manage online, leading to exclusion of certain groups.

eEstonia offers a user-friendly model, categorizing services under general subjects like "family" or "business," enabling access to related services regardless of the overseeing authority. This approach prioritizes usability and inclusivity.

Inclusive digital services

A post-digital government must make services accessible to traditionally excluded groups, such as the elderly, disabled, or non-native speakers. Services can be provided in multiple languages through automatic translation or hands-free access. Ideally, services anticipate needs and remain largely invisible.

Services should adapt to individual preferences and beliefs regarding data privacy, offering incentives to build trust. Transparency and ethical data handling are crucial.

The standard of post-digital governance 

Estonia's citizen-centric approach exemplifies post-digital governance, viewing the government as a facilitator rather than just a provider of services. This model is more efficient and inclusive, benefiting all societal segments through technological advancements. Estonia's digitised public services have saved (conservatively) over 1400 years of working time and 2% of GDP annually, which considering the size of Estonia, is remarkable. 

The focus shifts from digitalization as an end to a means of improving citizens' quality of life. Integrating technology seamlessly into everyday life enhances state-citizen interactions. Intuitive, accessible, and personalized digital services foster greater engagement and trust among citizens.

Read more about post-digital era and personal government. 

Author: John Cheal, UK Government and Public Sector Director at Nortal 


techUK and TechSkills at London Tech Week

techUK is proud to once again be a strategic partner of London Tech Week. The event is a fantastic showcase for UK tech, and we’re pleased that techUK members and colleagues are represented on the agenda.

We are pleased to be working with 20 techUK members at London Tech Week to highlight the positive impact of the tech industry in the UK. 

You can find more details on the author of this blog, below:



A digital transformation expert

London Tech Week: Fringe events

techUK is leading several fringe events across the week on topics as varied as Justice and Emergency Services, Local Public Services, Digital ID, and international trade. Visit the pages below to register:


Become a techUK member

Our members develop strong networks, build meaningful partnerships and grow their businesses as we all work together to create a thriving environment where industry, government and stakeholders come together to realise the positive outcomes tech can deliver.

Learn more