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Whether app store, digital ID, or AI, digital transformation of the public sector should address accurately what citizens need.

The public sector is all about public services. This pandemic is providing many reasons for the urgent digital transformation of some of these services. That’s because citizens and businesses usually are required by law to transact with different public sector agencies in order to achieve a given objective.

Quite often that may mean visiting different agencies, whether onsite or online. To increase efficiency, we need to reduce such multiple contacts, especially those involving physical transactions. In short, there is an urgent need to move away from an agency-centric model to a user-centric model.

Here are some technologies to consider. Let’s start with a public-sector-wide enabling platform to connect different systems and databases across different public sector agencies, so that we can provide one-stop service to the user. One example is the Saudi Government Service Bus.

Next, how about a public sector app store just like those app stores on our mobile devices? Different agencies may require similar applications, so why not have such a store for the sharing of apps? We can invite businesses and even individuals to build these apps. India has a plan for such an e-Government app store.

Going digital is more than just going online

It goes without saying, however, that going online is not enough. Public sector agencies have to go mobile too during this era of doing things from anywhere. Some of the mobile processes can be automated using AI, with the added benefit of delivering consistent services to people and businesses.

With companies going bankrupt and increasing unemployment, a grassroots economy becomes more important than ever. Individuals and small businesses must be encouraged to produce more goods and services. The public sector has a role to play by offering what I call the grassroots economy enabling platform to digitally enable such small businesses. Such a platform includes collaboration with suppliers and delivery services, and the ability to connect with buyers. Whether for transactions with big enterprises, small businesses, or the public sector, we need standardized cashless payment services, especially for micro-payments.

Another critical component of digital transformation is a non-fragmented, standard electronic identity. While it may be managed commercially, the public sector has to be the driver behind such a Digital ID in order for people, enterprises, and agencies to trust and transact with one another. Blockchain technology seems promising in this area.

Virtual residency takes hold

Estonia has had National Electronic ID for many years, but the country also has introduced an e-Residency initiative. A foreigner, even one who is not in Estonia, can sign up to be an electronic resident. With this e-Residency, a person can transact with individuals and companies in Estonia. It has been reported that this e-Residency program has contributed €14M to Estonia’s economy. This represents a true digital transformation, in which the mission of Digital ID is enhanced, and new services are created to increase the competitiveness of the country.

Getting back to a public-sector-business enabling platform – as I said earlier, our transactions with the public sector are usually part of the mandated processes we must follow in order to realize our final objective, for example to drive a car. One has to pass the highway code, learn to drive, pass a driving test, buy a car, register the car, pay the road tax, maintain the car, and so on, each process involving different public sector agencies and businesses. A true one-stop platform can bring all these services together.

Although I shared a few examples, what exactly is the digital transformation of public services? I categorize it into three areas. First, it is to improve the efficiency of current services. For example, amending the law and allowing online reporting of non-injury traffic accidents.

Second, it is to introduce new services under current missions. Take the ministry of education as an example. Its mission is typically to develop individuals to their full potential to meet the needs of the country. With the data it already possesses, the ministry can offer new services such as job matching and placement.

Third, it is to enhance a program’s mission by offering new services, such as the e-Residency of Estonia. For this to happen, organizational silos in the public sector have to be broken down and usually with top-down efforts.

Reshaping the world beyond digitalization

Digital transformation is not just about digitalization, connectivity, going online, cost reduction, or improving ROI. Digital transformation has to involve a lot more, such as redefining the mission, organization, governance, processes, and skillsets. This is why for digital transformation to be successful; the public sector requires the right laws and regulations to support the transformation.

Strong governance, structure and leadership are needed to pull the agencies and public servants in the same direction. Digital transformation is all about data. Upholding privacy and maintaining cybersecurity must not be neglected. The public sector serves and even collaborates with the people and with businesses. Trust is everything.

Last but not least, the budget and the operating model must be considered. Is the effort going to be based on capital expense, operating expense, or even a cloud model? Digital transformation is not one-off; it has to be a journey.

Clearly, technology plays a critical role in the success of digital transformation. Starting with Smart Devices, such as the smartphone, smartwatch, multimedia emergency radio system, smart body camera, and even the Huawei Software Defined Camera.

Next, Intelligent Connectivity is not just about fiber optics, but also 5G, WiFi 6, and beyond. Today’s data networking is already very complex, and the load has increased tremendously because of the need to conduct various activities from anywhere. There is a need for intelligent routing capabilities, such as Huawei’s Intent-Driven Network (IDN) to ensure the right device has the right bandwidth at the right time. Ubiquitous Computing provides the server, storage, modular data center, and even power supply.

AI provides powerful support

With the need for automation and even autonomous operations, we have Inclusive AI, where everyone and everything can leverage the power of AI. Huawei offers a full-stack and all-scenario AI platform, from the Ascend AI processors, to the MindSpore framework with independent machine learning libraries, to the ModelArts pre-integrated end-to-end services for application enablement.

To maximize the values of AI, we need to integrate applications, data, businesses, clouds, and devices. We do that through Huawei’s ROMA hybrid integration platform. In the fight against COVID-19 and with ICT BCM challenges, the importance of Universal Cloud becomes even more obvious.

In the last few months, many healthcare providers around the world took advantage of an AI-assisted CT scan analysis readily available on Huawei Cloud to identify COVID-19 patients. The previous manual method took 14 minutes per patient, and it is now reduced to 2.5 minutes with AI on cloud.

There have been numerous technological breakthroughs over the past few months. Bringing them together not just for various industries but also for the public sector will be equally important. In the next chapter, we will look into what more can be done to drive digital transformation among the agencies.

These technologies were discussed in depth at HUAWEI CONNECT in late September. The fifth edition of Huawei’s annual flagship event gathered experts, industry elite, top-notch developers, partners, and clients in Shanghai to share their insight into the unstoppable progress of digital transformation.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Hong-Eng Koh

Quelle/Source: CIO, 30.11.2020

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