The public sector is starting with its digital transformation, implementing digital technologies in different areas. The development of Artificial intelligence (AI) has created many solutions for the operational challenges governments have.
This article will examine different areas and implementations in which digital technologies used by governments create improved outcomes for citizens. These technologies could namely help them to understand their citizens, provide more efficient and effective services, commercialize services that will develop new sources of revenue, detect fraud, and manage budgets. Most governments are still lagging despite the great innovations these technologies can implement.
The digital transformation in the public sectors starts with a change from the governments themselves. It is not just about the new technologies, but about a change in the mindset, organizational structures, and governance of the governments. If the public sector starts with changing their internal processes, it will result in expanded benefits from the digital transformation, both for the government itself as for their citizens. Before the implementation start, governments need to be aware of the areas of change.
Citizens are used to the service from the private sector, personalized and responsive to their needs and wants. This standard is also expected from the government, a personalized and responsive service. To provide this service, governments should enhance citizen’s experience, starting with the adoption of a ‘citizen-first’ culture and mindset in the public sector. The goal should be to improve service quality, create efficient interaction, and provide superior citizen outcomes. New communication channels as social media and other mobile platforms can help to improve personalized interaction with the government. Besides, these new channels strengthen the collaboration between the public sector and citizens, involve them in the decision-making process, and the co-design of new services. Governments make use of AI to collect and analyze the gathered data continuously. These AI models can for example make personalized recommendations, provide new insights to improve their services, and come up with new correlations. In addition, algorithms could help the public sector with optimizing their urban planning by providing advanced routes for transport operations.
Globalization, climate change, and urbanizations are worldwide concerns people try to solve. These digital technologies could help with the process to tackle these challenges, creating smart infrastructures, cities, and energy-efficient buildings. Cities that have to deal with the growing population and expanded economic activity, are in need to renew their infrastructure to a smart, sustainable, and efficient one. The pressure on these cities is increasing, asking for digital technologies to solve this. Smart infrastructures are using the latest digital technologies, including AI and ML, to create maximum value, improve efficiency, and implement sustainability. Digital technologies can make it possible to create smart cities and buildings, where technology control, monitor, automate and analyze the city or building, providing insight, and provide recommendations to use it more efficient and effective. Think for example about the control and monitoring of human services, energy systems, transport networks, and safety operations, including all core functions of the public sector.
Governments are responsible to ensure safety among their citizens, enabling them to work and live without any fear, where digital technologies could help to comply with this. The public sector is investing in digital technologies to defend their organization from online risks. Because governments are working on their digital transformation, resulting in the use of better data sharing techniques, making them able to combat online threats. In addition, data analytics tools can enable predictive models and better threat analysis planning. Because the public sector is increasingly using data from citizens, citizens are becoming concerned about their data usage. Governments that are using data make use of information security management systems to keep their citizen's data safe. Furthermore, governments should use the power of cloud computing to increase their computing capacity.
AI-powered governments in the corona crisis
Even though the use of AI could be seen as challenging, more companies and governments need to focus on implementing AI to create additional value. AI could improve governments’ capabilities to increase value. It can detect weak signals, leading to development, refine, and generate numerous forecasts and insights. AI could also analyze an enormous amount of data providing real-time decision making. Both result in long-term value creation. A handful of governments already implemented AI and other digital technologies successfully, resulting in cost reduction and improved and expanded services. Because of the coronavirus, individuals and businesses are asking their basic questions to the national government. For example, the number of hospital beds, medical personnel, and supplies. But also, the supply of supermarkets, public transportation, and other necessities people depend on. According to a BCG analysis, the use of AI-enabled tools during the corona crisis has shown policymakers the value of AI solutions. It is used to make the internal processes of the government more efficient and more accurate to people’s wants and needs
Overcoming resistance to implementation
While it has been proven that the implementation of AI and the opportunities significantly enhance the functions and quality of the government, governments still have barriers to implement AI. This resistance could be created, because governments think AI implementation requires a large investment to update their data and computer systems.
The resistance against the implementation of AI or other digital technologies is inappropriate. Leaders could overcome these barriers and risks. They have to start the implementation of AI small, and still need to think big. Implementing digital technologies or AI always starts on a small scale. The implementation of AI solutions could start with small, high-impact pilot projects. This means that companies or governments first do some experimentation that could disclose problems and errors. It also provides leaders with opportunities to mitigate later resistance to new digital technologies and process changes. Key performance indicators could be built into a dashboard to support the decision-making processes of the government.
Now is the opportunity
Governments should take the opportunity to extend their reach and reliability through the implementation of AI and other technologies. Nearly every operational challenge of the government could be solved with the use of AI. Especially in these times, the implementation of AI could ensure a way to be more productive, data-driven, and (time) efficient government.
It is a unique situation to support the use of AI and other technologies. Abillama, N., Mills, S., & Carrasco, M. (2020, October 9). Now Is the Time for AI-Powered Governments. BCG Global. https://www.bcg.com/publications/2020/ai-powered-governments
Bertrand, A., & Atalla, G. (2019, April 10). How does digital government become better government? EY. https://www.ey.com/en_sa/government-public-sector/how-does-digital-government-become-better-government
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