Around the world, billions of people look to their governments to keep everything moving. From garbage collection to running water, government bodies are responsible for hundreds (if not thousands) of interconnected, security-sensitive systems. Understanding the critical role that software plays in modern society, governments are redoubling digital transformation efforts.
In the last few years, strategies and tools have evolved internally or from within the private sector which could, when combined, modernize governments forever.
Citizen engagement tools
Whereas a private company has a target audience to test, governments serve an exponentially more diverse end-user pool. In an effort to investigate and understand the needs of citizens, governments around the world are undertaking national surveys to direct their digital transformation. The Center for Digital Government (CDG) is an American organization dedicated to performing national surveys and investigating the demands of US citizens.
Powered by a custom web application, their most recent 2018 survey included 2000 individuals across different ages, races, and regions. Results uncovered information that would otherwise take years to derive internally. Some of the results we’re to be expected… others may never have surfaced without a system to reach out like this.
The information is invaluable for developing citizen-focused systems as well as improving existing tools. Realistically, initiatives like this would only require a basic web application to replicate or even adapt into a live feedback tool.
The IoT revolution
Mobile digital devices are now in the hands of nearly every citizen with mobile phone usage almost quadrupling in the elderly and affordable tablets replacing laptops in low-income households. Without a doubt, more people are connected than ever but more importantly, they’re ready to be reached.
Multichannel IoT is often viewed as an extra layer of development above existing software solutions. However, there are quick, easy ways to connect existing systems with a variety of channels that won’t exhaust IT resources. Through clever use of API integrations, developers would only need to build a front-end interface to connect with the vast majority of citizens.
Flexibility and collaboration through Agile
Digital transformation goals often require large scale innovation efforts across many systems. The value of these developments might be abundantly clear to IT professionals but non-technical decision-makers may find it difficult to commit resources without the same level of understanding.
Again, the US government seems to be particularly future-forward in their problem-solving and their solution stems from the private sector. They’ve begun experimenting with adapted Agile strategies to break down project complexity across the organization with a comprehensive ‘Digital Services Playbook’.
Agile’s real strength in government processes is less centered around acceleration and instead is being used by IT to break down projects into value-driven, short-term goals.
Embrace external technologies
Technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Blockchain have immense, untapped potential for governments. Blockchain alone could revolutionize the voting system of any country, completely removing the risk of fraud with a single software solution. Problem is, their IT departments don’t have the time or resources to develop those cutting edge solutions.
But what about the organizations which have managed to flesh out brand new technologies? Disruptive, consumer-driven private companies have been at the forefront of innovation since the dawn of time and pockets of governments are beginning to embrace them as powerful allies.
Spark, a new marketplace in the UK, opened in 2019 which is now connecting digital technology vendors with government contracts. While the program is still new, early results are promising and Spark is expected to accelerate digital transformation projects even further as more vendors register for participation.
Low- and no-code platforms
Project complexity is a multi-part problem with many different aspects to consider. We’ve already discussed how Agile approaches the actual scope of a software project, but what about the manual, coded complexity? Non-traditional development platforms like low- and no-code have become a widespread solution to exactly that in private organizations.
While security concerns initially prevented their use in government bodies, these platforms have evolved rapidly to meet modern enterprise IT standards. Advancements in no-code technologies have opened up their potential as a rapid development solution to replace legacy software.
Zaanstad municipality in the Netherlands is one of the frontrunners, having already developed 7 no-code applications and completely replacing a 25 year-old core system. They’re not the only ones, Zuid-holland (also in the Netherlands) has found similar success with a no-code development partner.
Time (and experimentation) will tell
Nobody is saying that there is a single, 100% proven method for modernizing a government's processes. Even among the most ‘disruptive’ countries are still adapting to newly implemented technologies. With those come teething problems but once they’re up and running, there can be no doubt that countries like the UK and USA will redefine life for their citizens in the near future.
To what extent? And what technologies will enable them? Check out our next article to find out how Betty Block’s development platform may just have the right stuff for the job ;)