5 tech trends that will transform governments

Zac Bookman at the World Economic Forum: “…The public sector today looks a bit like the consumer industry of 1995 and the enterprise space in 2005: it is at the beginning of a large-scale digital metamorphosis. The net result will be years of saved time, better decisions and stronger communities.

Here are five trends that will define this transformation in the coming decade:

  1. Real-time operations

Many industries in the global economy already operate in real time. ….

Governments are different. They often access accurate data only on a monthly or quarterly basis, even though they make critical decisions every day. This will change with software deployments that help governments unleash and use current data to make more informed decisions about how they can allocate public resources effectively.

  1. Smarter cities  

Studies on human migration patterns indicate that more people are moving to cities. By 2025, an estimated 60% of the world’s population will live in an urban centre. High rates of urbanization will force cities to use their existing resources more efficiently. Networked infrastructures – including roads, phone lines, cable networks, satellites and the internet – will be important parts of the solution to this challenge….For example, MIT and Copenhagen recently collaborated on an electric-hybrid bike wheel that monitors pollution, road conditions and traffic. The wheel allows cities to monitor their environments at a level that was previously unfeasible with cheap sensors and manual labour, offering a quantum leap in networking capability without using further human or capital resources.

  1. Increased citizen engagement

Smart networks are wonderful things, but cities need to guard themselves against making efficiency a sacred cow. There is inherent tension between the ideals of democracy and efficiency, between the openness of platforms that encourage engagement and centralized systems. Rather than focus solely on making everything smart, cities will have to focus on slowing down and improving the quality of life.

These considerations will cause cities to increase citizen engagement. Transparency is a subset of this goal. Open data platforms, such as data.gov and data.gov.uk, host troves of machine-readable government information that allow communities to target and solve problems for which governments do not have the bandwidth. Crowdfunding platforms, such as neighbor.ly, allow citizens to participate in the civic process by enabling them to invest in local capital projects. These types of civic tech platforms will continue to grow, and they will be vital to the health of future democracies.

  1. 21st-century reporting software for governments

The information technology that powers government is notoriously antiquated. …

New reporting technology, such as the system from OpenGov, will automatically pull and display data from governments’ accounting systems. These capabilities empower employees to find information in seconds that would have previously taken hours, days or even weeks to find. They will expand inter-departmental collaboration on core functions, such as budgeting. And they will also allow governments to compare themselves with other governments. In the next decade, advanced reporting software will save billions of dollars by streamlining processes, improving decisions and offering intelligent insights across the expenditure spectrum.

  1. Inter-governmental communication

The internet was conceived as a knowledge-sharing platform. Over the past few decades, technologists have developed tools such as Google and Wikipedia to aid the flow of information on the web and enable ever greater knowledge sharing. Today, you can find nearly any piece of information in a matter of seconds. Governments, however, have not benefited from the rapid development of such tools for their industry, and most information sharing still occurs offline, over email, or on small chat forums. Tools designed specifically for government data will allow governments to embrace the inherent knowledge-sharing infrastructure of the internet….(More)”