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With digitalization, open source technology is gaining momentum and governments are increasingly embracing open source solutions. In open government initiatives, open source has led to greater citizen participation and contribution. eGov Innovation speaks to Damien Wong, Vice President & General Manager ASEAN, Red Hat, on how government agencies can tap on open source to foster innovation, accelerate digital transformation and benefit citizens.

How are new digital technologies impacting the public sector?

Exciting new technology concepts such as IoT, containers, cloud computing, and big data offer multiple avenues for governments and federal agencies to improve operational efficiencies and mission performance.

Asia Pacific is swiftly becoming the 'frontline for the Internet of Things (IoT)'. Most countries in the region are actively implementing digital initiatives to transform their nations into smart economies. The city of the future will be built on technologies like collaboration, video and data, with the ultimate goal to improve the lives of their citizens.

Technology will be embedded into the city to deliver improved urban services like public safety and security, healthcare, intelligent buildings and green energy. Singapore’s Smart Mobility 2030 vision, for example, has laid out a plan that will integrate vehicles seamlessly into the infrastructure of the island. This means in the future, all vehicles will be linked to traffic lights, traffic cameras, even lamp posts.

What are the barriers to digital transformation in the public sector, and how can open source help overcome some of these barriers?

A recent Gartner survey revealed three barriers to achieving digital transformation in the public sector: skills or resources, budgets, and culture of the organization.

As the world moves faster and becomes more ambiguous, our ability to predict the future is becoming less and less. Particularly in the public sector where the project scope is more large-scale, a more agile approach is needed— one that not surprisingly is very similar to the DevOps model for software development, and specifically open source. Enterprise open source is economical, powerful and capable of driving innovation. It avoids lock-in. It provides the freedom to explore and move when technology changes.

A study by Forrester Consulting in 2016 commissioned by Red Hat and Intel showed that technology decision-makers in Asia Pacific now turn to open source for three things. First, they use it as a new way of engaging and fostering collaborative innovation (60%). Second, they turn to open source software to trim enterprise software costs while driving innovation and creating new, modern applications (50%). Third, a growing number of companies rely on open source-based solutions for strategic and often mission-critical capabilities (50%).

At the same time, open source also thrives on individual participations. The open source community is built on this very same concept and a fundamental belief that the contribution of everyone, no matter how small, will create an impact on the outcome. Active participations of these individuals – the explorers, builders, and constant collaboration with a community of IT leaders, corporations and partners, shape the future of IT. In other words, innovation is only made possible because of the individuals.

What is the adoption of open source solutions like among governments today?

Government agencies across the world, including Asia, are turning to open source for major government initiatives such as datacenter consolidation, virtualization, cloud computing, big data, and emerging needs.

For example, the Government of India has been promoting the use of open source technologies for e-governance, including economic and strategic benefits.[1] Increasingly, we are also seeing other governments (ASEAN, Australia, Korea, Japan) and public sector associations in Asia come together to promote the adoption and development of open source software. The formation of the Asian Open Source Software Center (AOSSC) is one such example which includes participating countries and regions from China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.[2]

At home, GovTech Singapore partnered with the Singapore Civil Defence Force to develop MyResponder, an app that activates volunteers within a 400m radius of a cardiac arrest victim to render immediate help before the ambulance arrives. Singapore’s first Smart Mobility Consortium, which brings together NTU and multinational companies including Red Hat, is another example of how open source plays a role in enhancing public transportation services and commuter safety, pushing new frontiers in technology.

In Malaysia, we work with Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM), the country’s statutory body that incorporates companies, to improve business registration process to be faster and more efficient. In Indonesia, open source helps modernize Indonesia’s tax systems through the country’s Directorate General of Tax. In India, one of the public sector companies that we work with is the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) that supports nearly two million passengers a day covering over 2,500 trains nationwide. Open source has enabled them to handle a workload of 25,000 concurrent users during peak booking periods.

What are the impacts and benefits of open source solutions for government agencies?

Open source innovation has led to greater citizen participation and contribution in open government initiatives around the world. The era of open government has the potential to fundamentally transform how countries are run, and at the same, enrich the lives of citizens in so many ways, technologically and culturally.

Developed by a community of developers, open source benefits from collaborations among highly-skilled talents and professionals to facilitate more and better ideas. Combined with the fact that it can offer businesses the freedom from vendor lock-in, in many organizations around the world, open source has become a default choice to create new services and apps at scale, more quickly and cost-effectively.

Open source is now viewed as key to the evolution of digital technologies that matter. The same survey by Forrester mentioned earlier also shows that the role of open source will significantly increase by 52% in the agile hybrid cloud category, and an increase of 44% is expected in application integration and API management. This is primarily because an agile hybrid cloud environment enables organizations and developers to rapidly develop, deploy, and implement modern applications using a tactical approach with low upfront costs while improving performance and integration.

What advice do you have for government agencies in adopting an open source strategy?

This is an age in which citizens expect to be treated as consumers, not as subjects, by the government. They demand the same kind of service, connectivity, and openness they’ve come to expect from private businesses. Digital solutions provided by government agencies should be developed with the purpose of driving citizen engagement and for the outcome of better government services enabled by open data.

And we are seeing this happen across governments in Asia. GovTech is a great example, as they are encouraging citizens to participate in the many applications they have – either through myResponder or the OneService app where you can report municipal issues.

Using open source solutions with a focus on open data can unlock a new avenue to drive greater citizen engagement and to harness the vast capability of the public to help with research and development, potentially facilitating real transformation. As more and more citizens embrace digital platforms, government agencies may have an opportunity to further tap into the massive amount of open data collected to provide better services and solutions.


Quelle/Source: Enterprise Innovation, 23.10.2017

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