12 Sep 2023

WSO2: Digitising products and services & how it can solve public sector challenges #techUKSmarterState

Guest blog by Ricardo Diniz, VP & General Manager for Europe at WSO2, as part of Building the Smarter State week. #techUK

The integration of technology, digital products, and services, coupled with the Internet of Things (IoT) in urban areas, enables the creation of smart cities and a more intelligent state. However, the reality is much more complex.

To achieve this vision, it's crucial to modernise outdated systems, streamline processes, break down departmental barriers, and actively engage with citizens. These represent just a few of the numerous challenges that must be addressed.

Although governments, local authorities, law enforcement, and collaborative supplier communities have made significant strides in developing smarter urban infrastructure, further progress is necessary to bring us closer to achieving transformative results.

Elevated Citizens’ Expectations

Post pandemic, citizens have become accustomed to their services being online, meaning that expectations of digital services have never been higher. But government and public sector organisations face a challenging combination of pressures when it comes to delivering the products and solutions that underpin essential citizen services. They are ultimately accountable to the electorate and have strict timelines for policy delivery.

Likewise, government and public sector departments handle some of the most confidential personally identifiable information (PII) relating to homes, employment, and healthcare. As a result, keeping it safe and ensuring it is used correctly is of paramount importance.

Substantial investment in smart cities

The good news is that the EU has set forth a significant budget of €351.8 billion to create smarter cities and, according to a recent report by MarketsandMarkets, the Smart Cities Global Market is predicted to be worth $1024.4 billion by 2028.

Over the years, here at WSO2, we have helped to deliver digital experiences for over 130 government entities, helping to transform societies and bring about many innovations and benefits by providing modern, secure, and simplified services.

One great example is an efficient resource management and community engagement project we worked on with Hollands Noorderkwartier (HHNK), a water management authority in the Netherlands that partially relies on citizens’ taxes to carry out its important work. Working together with our Partner Yenlo, HHNK created an online tax portal using WSO2’s integration platform.

Significant cost savings and Enhanced efficiency

The need to reduce costs, improve efficiency and transparency, and facilitate a simpler tax payment process for Dutch citizens, led to the creation of this portal. HHNK has made significant cost savings through the portal. Telephone calls have been reduced by 25%, saving them around €40,000 a year due to the availability of an online statement of accounts. Additionally, HHNK has managed to save about €350,000 a year on hiring costs through the reduction of internal resources, and lower banking costs due to direct online transfers. Overall, HHNK has experienced a total cost reduction of between €400,000 and €600,000 a year.

Another example of how governments are driving initiatives to improve citizen engagement is Sweden’s "city as a platform" concept, leveraging technology and data to transform cities into more efficient, sustainable, and liveable places. Sweden has partnered with Ericsson and WSO2 to implement a connected ecosystem using API-led connectivity to solve interoperability challenges via the Ericsson Innovation Cloud platform. The capital city, Stockholm, has been a pioneer in adopting smart city technologies. It has implemented projects related to smart transportation, waste management, and energy efficiency. The city uses data and technology to improve traffic flow, reduce emissions, and enhance public services.

Digital products can streamline and improve an organisation’s capabilities and enable it to innovate in different ways. New digital services can expand product lines and services or add value to existing products or services. Beyond improving the products, themselves, new mobile and social experiences enhance interactions with existing citizens and attract new audiences. Likewise, digital technologies can improve operational insight and efficiencies and increase margins for the business. They can help to facilitate secure data sharing and collaboration across departments and with citizens. As a result, government departments and local authorities can implement new policies and services faster and improve citizen engagement and adherence to regulation by making it simpler to access services.

Multiple benefits for all

By developing e-government systems, citizens can interact with online services such as voting, filing taxes, as per the example above, or accessing social benefits. At the same time, organisations can facilitate the seamless sharing of citizen-centric data across multiple government departments, fostering improved decision-making, fraud detection, and efficient service delivery. All these initiatives move governments and cities forward in their goal to deliver a smarter state with societal benefits for all.

Tuesday 4.png 2

Ricardo Diniz is VP & General Manager for Europe at WSO2. Find out more about WSO2.

From 11 – 15 September techUK is running our annual Building the Smarter State Week in the run-up to the ninth edition of our flagship public services conference, Building the Smarter State, on Wednesday 27 September. Book your tickets here