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Looming deadlines. Limited budgets. Competing priorities. Changing citizen expectations. Such are the challenges for government decision-makers in every modern society around the world. The pressure to do more with less has probably never been greater.

To rise to these challenges, government leaders are rightly turning towards innovative technologies such as cloud to power digital transformation – from improving engagement to deriving insights and accelerating outcomes.

However, not all digital transformations are created equally. Without meticulous planning, management and the right up-front investments, government services can be exposed to unnecessary delays, risks, bureaucracy and remedial costs. Along the way, this can disengage citizens at a time when trust in governments is vital.

On the flipside, effective digital transformation can be a genuine game-changer for governments and citizens alike. This requires a holistic approach where government departments collaborate to share resources, expertise and knowledge to deliver connected solutions.

A successful digital transformation relies on much more than just technology, it requires a holistic approach. This includes:

  • bringing business, experience and technology together for ‘joined up’ thinking and ongoing collaboration;
  • being ‘human-centred’ in approach, to support insightful and focused decisions and requirements in meeting the needs of users;
  • being value-driven in terms of outcome and organisation;
  • approaching delivery in an agile but appropriately rigorous and highly secure way.

Together, they can harness data and cloud technologies to build digital products that flex around the needs and preferences of citizens. And with cybersecurity factored in from the start, these digital products can earn citizen trust and confidence in government.

Two essential components of holistic government digital solutions are human-centred design and comprehensive cybersecurity.

Building trust through a human-centred digital experience

From banking to buying groceries, Australians have become accustomed to smooth, seamless digital products. This has set the bar high for every digital interactions. So, when government wants to engage citizens, it must deliver contemporary experiences.

As recent PwC research shows, when citizens feel engaged they are more likely to trust government. And the higher their trust, the more prepared they are to share information, offer feedback, use digital products and heed government requests (such as COVID-19 health advice).

However, where government channels don’t meet citizen expectations, this hard-won trust can easily be lost. Any solution affected by disruption would, at best, result in citizen inconvenience. Any tainting or corruption of citizen data could hamper the ability of policymakers to make informed decisions about government services. At worst, any loss of citizen data could allow so-called ‘bad actors’ to act maliciously, but would also severely erode people’s trust in government and ultimately undermine broader efforts by all government agencies to engage digitally with citizens.

Aside from the resilience of services, the end-user experience is key. As an example, the frustration caused for citizens who have to re-enter data multiple times across different services due to a fragmented data landscape can equate to a failure to meet expectations, an erosion of trust and a lack of engagement with services.

In addition to the delivery of contemporary experiences, government has a duty to make its services accessible to every citizen, irrespective of personal circumstances. Digital exclusion can exacerbate the socio-economic divide in society and leave citizens behind.

To minimise the impact of this, government digital products and services must be designed, implemented, tested and operated with inclusivity front of mind – recognising that solutions that work for people living with a disability are likely to also work well for people in diverse circumstances.

Digital solutions requiring online citizen engagement also need to be able to leverage assistive technologies to support those with hearing and vision impairments.

An important consideration in the development of any government solution will be the alignment to internationally recognised web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG). These guidelines are intended to make websites and other digital products more usable for all users, and more accessible for people living with a disability. The guidelines are critical to the accessible design of an inclusive user experience and should remain a focal point as the solutions evolve.

Cybersecurity that goes the extra mile

Citizens can only feel comfortable engaging with government when they are confident that a digital product provides privacy, confidentiality and security. This is a major reason why a robust approach to cybersecurity is required.

Cyber-attacks are on the rise, so it’s increasingly important to get security right – particularly in government. Government digital products are extremely attractive to cyber criminals and state-sponsored attackers, who seek to exploit any security weakness to steal money, personal data and intellectual property, as well as target essential infrastructure.

Some of the critical factors for governments to consider when developing a large-scale digital citizen solution, include (but are not limited to):

  • Baking security in from the start: Despite the dynamic cyber threat and regulatory environment, it’s still a surprisingly common mistake to build a digital product and then ‘bolt on’ cybersecurity at the end. Instead, cybersecurity should be considered from day one of the design.
  • Covering all bases: Security is not just about design, architecture and compliance but also operations, incident response and integration with standard service management processes (for example, how you review security risks as part of change management).
  • Tapping into a diverse talent pool: Cyber is a broad domain and there will be occasions where specialist skills are needed from outside the organisation. It’s important to understand how you can leverage outside experts and alliances to ensure the right outcome is achieved.
  • Making security everyone’s responsibility: Regular security awareness sessions and cyber-threat briefings should be delivered to all relevant stakeholders and the broader project team so that everyone knows how their individual and collective roles contribute to cybersecurity and risk.
  • Taking a threat-led approach: Cyber attacks are a fact of life for most large organisations, and governments are no different. It’s important to understand the relevant threat landscape, including threat actors and their motivations, so you can better prepare and take more threat-aware context into risk management decisions.
  • Rigorous testing: Undertaking simulation events and rehearsing cyber incidents will help test processes and ensure the organisation has the ‘muscle memory’ to respond. This should be in addition to multiple rounds of security code reviews and penetration tests.

It’s time for a holistic approach to digital transformation

In summary, a holistic approach enables governments to achieve a digital transformation that engages citizens and earns their trust. Such an approach can bring together government departments, citizen experience and cloud technology to deliver innovative digital products and data-enabled solutions that are human-centred, securing outcomes in an agile, rigorous and highly secure way.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Gwil Davies and Robert Di Pietro

Quelle/Source: The Mandarin, 22.8.2022

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