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Technology has reduced distances and connected people across continents, turning the world into a true global village. In today’s world, nearly all of us wake up and instinctively reach out for our smartphones to check our email and social media updates, grab news bites, and engage in conversations. Many of us call the cab to work, get the previous day’s closing numbers, look for updates from our favourite brands, send or receive money, read a page or two from our favourite book, and a lot more all through our cell phones. The tech marvels we could not imagine ever coming out of the science fiction and into the real world are more than commonplace today.

Technology, however, is not only connecting and facilitating us, it has become the cornerstone of social empowerment on a global scale and is delivering amazing solutions to longstanding social challenges. While daily life has become faster and more informed thanks to technology, governments too are becoming agile and more efficient. Digital transformation is playing a major impact on smart and efficient governance and by embracing digital technologies such as Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Blockchain, governments are changing the way they do things and are making life easier and happier for their citizens.

Pakistan is considered amongst one of the major emerging global economies and as we aim for the knowledge economy, it’s only through digitalisation on the government and people levels that we can pave the way for it. Despite faring low on digital participation metrics, Pakistan has made great progress on achieving social equality and transforming underperforming industries. The ICT sector of Pakistan, especially, has been the one actively supporting the country in its pursuit of digitalisation with a plethora of innovative initiatives to empower citizens and industries. But, our governance still has a lot of room for improvement as we continue to face longstanding social and economic challenges.

Transformation of public services through e-government is a proven way of improving public service delivery while increasing transparency of the government. The Canadian city, Regina’s, portal for public access of city services and utilities is an example here. A good step in this direction is the Pakistani government’s Citizen Portal that is an integrated citizens’ grievance redressal system connecting all government organisations, at both federal and provincial levels. A similar portal for Pakistani citizens to access services and utilities while on-the-go would be a great step forward.

Working more closely with the ICT sector, the Pakistani government can harness technology to govern better and address challenges more effectively. A great example here is the Kent Council UK’s collaboration with Microsoft to harness the power of cloud and applying innovative mobile technologies in local communities to contextualise citizens’ needs and preferences, provide relevant on-the-spot offers, and access markets that were previously untapped. Similarly, Telenor Pakistan’s mAgri service “Khushaal Zamindaar” also contextualises farmer needs and provides location-specific weather forecast along with contextual agronomic advisory for smallholder farmers.

All these examples illustrate the impact that digital transformation is having on governments now, and the tremendous potential it holds for the future as more government organisations begin their transformation journey. Inevitably, there are challenges to overcome to achieve the e-governance level we envision. But, by beginning to experiment on emerging technologies such as AI, Blockchain, and Cloud, we can reimagine public services while contributing to the global digital economy that is growing rapidly and is currently estimated at around $11.5 trillion. It’s high time our government put more efforts into implementing innovative ways to increase its transparency and make life and processes seamless and efficient for all Pakistanis.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Irfan Wahab Khan

Quelle/Source: The Express Tribune, 16.10.2019

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