Governments around the world recognise disruption presents them with the opportunity to become more efficient, effective, “open, participatory and innovative” (as outlined by the OECD Recommendation on Digital Government Strategies) and also offers massive cost savings as summarised in the Digital Government Transformation Report by Deloitte.
Disruption also requires policy, legal and regulatory responses, as reported by The Australian Productivity Commission in Digital Disruption: What do government need to do? Examples of how confronting disruption can be are demonstrated by:
- France in their adoption of the principle of loyaute des platformes to manage platform players and their network effects;
- the draft European Parliament motion suggesting robots become ‘electronic persons’ with taxation and legal liability; and
- the United Nations landmark resolution condemning internet shutdowns as a human rights violation.
Major disruption trends that will profoundly transform government include:
Internet of Things (IoT) – bringing more dynamic cities, buildings and services including public lighting, parking, traffic, container, water and waste management through the application of sensors, software and data analytics.
Organisations have reported cost reductions on routine processes of an average of 28 percent with IoT solutions. While IoT for government is at the ‘peak of inflated expectations’ on Gartner’s Hype Cycle its deployment will gain pace with:
- Ubiquitous networks facilitated by enabling infrastructure such as National Narrowband Network Co;
- Agreed international standards and security protocols as championed through standards bodies like JTC1; and
- Initiatives undertaken by individual national governments such as Hypercat in the UK.
Gartner estimates 4.9 billion internet-enabled devices existed in 2015, and this will balloon to 25 billion by 2020. In fact, this might well be a conservative estimate. Cisco Systems, for example, suggests that there may be as many as 50 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet by 2020.
Big Data – driving to more informed and real-time decision making through the collection, storage and analysis of data, including that from IoT, ambient, open, spatial and social data. This decision making supported by a combination of Edge Analytics and computing capacity from low-cost providers including the massive Amazon Web Services with according to Gartner 10 times the computing capacity of its 14 closest competitors combined.
The Grattan Orange Book 2016: Priorities for the next Commonwealth Government sets out recommendations on how a data-driven culture in the public sector could provide for transport spending based on clear needs, not marginal seat pork-barreling and others have observed that data can drive both justice and equality.
Collaboration – leading to radical solutions to traditional government services delivery as demonstrated by the:
- Joint development by Estonia and Finland of a whole-of-government strategy for digital government and steering cross-border services for citizens and businesses
- Adoption of Creative Commons licensing for government data and information by the Australian Federal government, and also by the states of New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia to allow the public to access and use them for private or public purposes;
- Partnership between the Department of Human Services and Australia Tax Office in the upgrade and development mytax and subsequent retirement of e-tax
Smart government – innovative policies, business models, and technology can address the financial, environmental, and service challenges faced by the government as demonstrated by the NSW Data Analytics Centre, a group set up to deliver more efficient decisions on things as diverse as education and transport. And can lead to:
- Improved customer service as with Townsville City Council web chat
- Fewer government transactions through the application of automation and smart machines and enhanced processes like NSW Driver’s license renewals online
- Resource saving reforms, for example, the use drones to fight fires and crime
- Transformed social welfare profoundly improving the lives of citizens through the efficient targeting of services as in New Zealand
To achieve these outcomes government needs to invest to save and as outlined in the SA Digital Landscape Report, create a culture which supports customer centricity, innovation and collaboration, and recruit, retain and retrain relevant skills.