The U.S. Administration has placed a consistent priority on strengthening the nation’s cyber defences, building a comprehensive strategy to boost its cybersecurity and adopting aggressive measures to strengthen and maintain the nation’s cyber defence. As a result, the White House has recently produced a fact sheet on enhancing national cybersecurity, which outlines numerous improvements made in this area.
The Administration has collaborated closely with essential industries, such as transportation, finance, water, and healthcare, to assist stakeholders in understanding cyber threats to critical infrastructure and adopting minimal cybersecurity requirements.
This includes the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) implementation of numerous performance-based directives to strengthen cybersecurity resilience for the pipeline and rail sectors, as well as a measure of cyber requirements for the aviation industry.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Act is an investment in the modernisation and strengthening of the country’s infrastructure. The Administration is ensuring that these projects, such as increasing the Nation’s network of electric-vehicle charging stations, are constructed to last and meet modern safety and security standards, including cyber security. Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) investments in digital security will also deliver high-speed internet to underdeveloped areas of the country, bridging the digital divide.
The Administration has upped the bar for all Federal Government systems by mandating effective cybersecurity measures like multifactor authentication. It also recently released a strategy for implementing Federal zero-trust architecture, as well as budget recommendations to ensure that Federal agencies allocate resources to cybersecurity priorities.
On the other hand, the Administration launched the International Counter-Ransomware Initiative (CRI) in 2021, bringing together partners from around the world to combat the ransomware problem. This organisation has increased communal resilience, enlisted the help of the commercial sector, and disrupted criminal actors and their infrastructure.
In addition to launching the International Counter Ransomware Initiative, the Administration has initiated cyber conversations with a wide range of allies and partners to strengthen collective cybersecurity, develop a coordinated response, and promote cyber deterrence.
When rogue cyber actors harm American or partner interests, the Administration does not hesitate to respond decisively. They are also committed to guaranteeing the implementation of globally established conventions to establish cyber “rules of the road.”
To discuss the development of a label for Internet of Things (IoT) devices so that Americans can easily identify which devices meet the highest cybersecurity standards to guard against hacking and other cyber vulnerabilities, the administration plans to bring together businesses, associations, and government partners.
Furthermore, the White House convened a National Cyber Workforce and Education Summit, bringing together government and cyber community leaders to discuss increasing the nation’s cyber workforce and boosting cyber education.
Encryption has been a key component of the U.S.’s strategy to safeguard data from hacking or theft by criminals. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) unveiled this summer four new encryption algorithms that will become part of NIST’s post-quantum cryptographic standard, which is anticipated to be finished within two years.
Through the National Quantum Initiative and the issue of National Security Memorandum-10 (NSM-10) on Promoting United States Leadership in Quantum Computing While Mitigating Risks to Vulnerable Cryptographic Systems, the government likewise seeks to advance its technological advantage.
This project has more than increased the United States Government’s investment in research and development (R&D) for quantum technology, resulting in the establishment of new research centres and workforce development programmes around the country.
India ranked 61st in the recently released Network Readiness Index 2022 (NRI). The report ranks a total of 131 economies that collectively account for almost 95% of the global gross domestic product (GDP). The United States ranked first place as the most network-ready society. The report is titled ‘Stepping into the new digital era: how and why digital natives will shape the world’.
According to a press release by the Ministry of Communications, this year, India jumped six places. It ranked 11th within Asia and the Pacific. Further, the country not only increased its ranking but improved its score from 49.74 in 2021 to 51.19 in 2022. Apart from placing first in AI talent concentration, the country has done well in mobile broadband Internet traffic within the country, international Internet bandwidth, and annual investment in telecommunication services and domestic market size. Its ICT services exports ranked fourth, followed by FTTH/building Internet subscriptions and AI scientific publications. The country’s weakest indicators were happiness, online access to financial accounts, and the gender gap in Internet use.
As per the report, India has greater network readiness than expected, given its income level. The nation scores higher than the income group average in all pillars and sub-pillars. It said the country’s main strength relates to people and the greatest scope for improvement concerns governance.
Major progress was made by Singapore, which jumped from the seventh position to ranking second in this year’s index, pushing Denmark (6th) and Finland (7th) out of the top 5. The other five countries that made up the top ten included Sweden (3rd), the Netherlands (4th), Switzerland (5th), Germany (8th), the Republic of Korea (9th), and Norway (10th). The ranking is based on each country’s performance in technology, people, governance, and impact, covering 58 variables.
Recently, to secure digital data, the government, through the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MietY), announced it would discuss various aspects of digital personal data and its protection. It has formulated a draft bill titled ‘The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill 2022’. As OpenGov Asia reported, the purpose of the draft Bill is to provide for the processing of digital personal data in a manner that recognises both the right of individuals to protect their personal data and the need to process personal data for lawful purposes.
The Ministry has invited feedback from the public on the draft Bill. The submissions will not be disclosed and held in a fiduciary capacity, to enable people submitting feedback to provide the same freely. The government has said no public disclosure of the submissions will be made. The government said the draft Bill uses simple language, allowing citizens to understand it easily. It is accessible on the Ministry’s website, along with an explanatory note that provides a brief overview of its provisions.
At the Launch Ceremony of the national system of Policy Research Centre for Innovation and Technology (PReCIT)” as one of the PolyU’s 85th Anniversary celebratory events, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) hosted the “Forum on Integrating I&T into GBA. PReCIT is a University-level interdisciplinary policy research centre with the aspiration to be the leading I&T think tank in Hong Kong and the region.
Some 300 staff, students, alumni, leaders from I&T, finance, academia and guests gathered to exchange views on how Hong Kong can proactively integrate into the Nation’s development plan.
The Secretary for Innovation, Technology, and Industry, HKSAR Government stated that the new Policy Research Centre for Innovation and Technology will play a key role in facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration for more impactful research, in the I&T field.
PolyU’s President stated the establishment of PReCIT is just another timely step taken by the University to respond to key national strategies that unleash unlimited opportunities for Hong Kong’s future development.
The Vice President (Research and Innovation) and Director of PReCIT introduced the Centre’s background and three major research foci – carbon-neutral cities, the Greater Bay Area I&T development, and the Belt and Road Initiative development in Southeast Asia, with a view to dovetailing with the National 14th Five Year Plan in supporting Hong Kong to develop into an international I&T hub.
He stated that the respective strengths of Hong Kong and the mainland must complement each other in deliberation on cross‑boundary integration proposals which aim to foster R&D commercialisation to unleash the potentials of the GBA and Belt and Road economies as well as the opportunity associated with re‑industrialisation. To achieve this, a cross‑boundary policy on I&T cooperation including regarding the flows of I&T material, capital, data and people between Hong Kong and mainland provinces is needed. PReCIT, as the advocacy body of PolyU, endeavours to formulate strategies that support Hong Kong’s participation in the national pioneering technology missions.
The Co-Founder of the Greater Bay Area Association of Academicians; the President of the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences; the Chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries; and the Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the Public Policy Institute, Our Hong Kong Foundation, were invited to share their insights, ahead of the announcement of the Hong Kong I&T Development Blueprint, in the panel discussion session moderated by
The Co-Founder of the Greater Bay Area Association of Academicians shared his experiences in cooperating with the innovation and technology sector on the mainland. He reiterated that it is important for the HKSAR government to work together with stakeholders, especially experts and the capital market, to advance I&T development.
The President of the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences called on the government to set an R&D policy direction that supports the Nation’s development. He also suggested Hong Kong and other cities in the GBA together establish an intellectual property exchange platform for university researchers to present their research outcomes and attract further funding.
Chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries explained how Hong Kong serves as an industrial and I&T headquarters in connecting the GBA and ASEAN for research commercialisation and empowering advanced manufacturing, capitalising on the City’s strengths in the industry chain and as a financial centre.
The Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the Public Policy Institute, Our Hong Kong Foundation stressed that joint cross-border policy initiatives are needed to overcome barriers to deepening market access and facilitating movements of factors of production.
Finally, the Head of the Department of Applied Social Sciences and Co-Director of PReCIT concluded that concerted effort from all sectors of the community is essential to provide a sustainable and supportive environment for high-calibre and potential I&T talents to be persuaded to stay in Hong Kong.
The Australian National University (ANU) is hosting a new training centre aimed at upskilling the next generation of researchers in cutting-edge 3D imaging and analysis technology to help repair bones, safely store CO2, deactivate viruses on surfaces and recycle car parts among a range of critical applications.
The ARC Training Centre for Multiscale 3D Imaging, Modelling and Manufacturing, M3D Innovation, is using a “disruptive” digital imaging, analysis, modelling and manufacturing technology developed at ANU for more than 15 years.
The micro-imaging technology provides users with 3D “supervision” into a range of materials at scales ranging from metres to 10 nanometres – a measurement 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
The technology was originally developed by a team of researchers with M3D Innovation Director, Professor Mark Knackstedt, who has won a Eureka Prize as well as an ENI award – the ‘Nobel prize’ for energy resources research – for his innovation.
He noted that the aim is to gather researchers from ANU and Queensland University of Technology, 15 industry partners and end users to harness the ‘super-power’ of advanced imaging and analysis technologies. He added that a vibrant research training environment is being built and a workforce that is expert in applying the new technology to a range of new industry sectors is being created. Moreover, PhD students and early career researchers in industrial collaboration and commercialisation are being mentored.
Already, incredible strides have been made through a range of exciting projects. This includes using the technology to investigate green steel production via hydrogen-based processes; safely storing CO2 in aquifers to fight climate change, recycling car parts for a circular economy, regenerating bones with biodegradable scaffolds and designing custom bone implants.
Partners at QUT have developed new technology during the COVID-19 pandemic, using etching techniques to roughen surfaces to deactivate bacteria and viruses. This is a technique that could be used to deactivate COVID-19 on metal surfaces in hospitals and clinical settings.
M3D Innovation is funded by the Australian Government under the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centres scheme. Professor Knackstedt said they are grateful for the Australian Government’s investment and support for this important field of science and for the translation to industry partners.
ANU and Australia are world leaders in this space. Their work at M3D Innovation will boost the country’s capacity and deliver new graduates and researchers with critical skills and knowledge across novel manufacturing, modelling and imaging.
The global 3D imaging market size was valued at US$25.7 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.2% from 2022 to 2030. 3D imaging is the procedure of rendering a three-dimensional image to create the optical illusion of depth.
During the 3D imaging process, two or more motion cameras are employed to capture a three-dimensional object for these 3D images to be produced. High-resolution images are created by combining 3D image sensors, cameras, and screens. As a result, 3D imaging is widely used in hospitals, the entertainment industry, architecture, construction, and automotive.
While the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted market growth, ongoing technological developments in the field of 3D imaging and the widespread adoption of and need for 3D imaging systems in different sectors are expected to drive the market in the coming future.
The growing prevalence of chronic diseases worldwide coupled with increased awareness of the benefits of 3D imaging technology are also factors contributing to the growth in demand for 3D imaging solutions.
A digital government operates in a manner that is digital by design, focusing on the requirements of users and maximising data. Fundamentally altering the way the Australian government operates now, it offers enhanced social, policy and economic outcomes.
The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) of Australia believes that a digital government better prioritises the requirements of individuals and businesses. It entails investing in cutting-edge technology to deliver a personalised experience that is stable, safe and dependable and ultimately anticipates the demands of each user.
Australia’s Resilience and Growth Rely on Digital Government
“We cannot underestimate the impact of programmes and concepts such as ‘Tell us Once’ – not requiring customers to continue to re-tell their story as they access government services,” Lucy emphasises.
They are beginning to see both this de-duplication in service delivery and a side effect of more efficient investment through what they have dubbed the “Australian Government Architecture” (AGA).
The AGA is a vision to reduce the time agencies need to navigate the complexities of government in building digital and ICT-enabled solutions. It is designed to be a catalogue of applicable policies and standards combined with an index of repeatable patterns and capabilities for re-use.
Because of the increased speed-to-market, the Government can respond to priority needs using modern, best-of-breed approaches gaining “overall efficiency in how we digitally connect government services”.
“Silos of excellence” are a significant challenge. While Australia has some policies in place to reduce investment in duplicated capability, this is a difficult barrier. While some core functions of a platform may be the same, the needs of the service that uses that platform may be very different. “It’s always a struggle to strike a good balance.”
Unfortunately, when it comes to transforming government services, there are often legacy, disconnected systems that must be addressed and eventually decommissioned. This requires time, effort, and, most importantly, commitment. When compared to the release of a new system, it is more difficult to create a good-news story about turning off a system.
“Our people are at the heart of so much of what we do in the Public Service. This heart is often the dedication that the government requires of people who are passionate about serving citizens and businesses,” Lucy acknowledges.
The money available to the public sector, particularly in the digital streams of work, can make it difficult to compete with the private sector. This means that their best and brightest often leave for greater returns and better opportunities. “Our big challenge will be crafting our employee value proposition – across the Australian Public Service and all agencies.”
One of the most important technological advancements ever made, digital identification has enormous advantages for businesses, consumers, and governments. Australia is a pioneering nation in the field of digital identity. The Trusted Digital Identity Framework that supports the Australian Government Digital Identity System isn’t simply based on industry best practices from throughout the world; it’s also regarded as best practices in many other nations.
Underscoring her belief in the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF), Lucy says, “At the DTA, we’ve been building policy for Digital Identity – the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF) – for several years.”
The DTA is responsible for the Whole-of-Government Digital and ICT Investment Oversight Framework – a six-stage, end-to-end framework that provides Government Agencies with direction for managing their digital and ICT investments across the full project lifecycle. Government Departments and Agencies are obligated to consult with the DTA on all digital and ICT investment plans throughout the framework’s numerous stages, per the Framework.
Moreover, the TDIF serves as the guiding principle for the Australian Government Digital Identity System. It is based on worldwide and industry best practices and standards and it establishes strict guidelines for privacy, security, transparency and trust.
The TDIF is regarded as a world-leading accreditation framework for digital identity providers. It has supported the implementation of best-practice digital identity policies in Australia’s government and corporate sectors.
The TDIF has evolved and continues to adapt in response to changes in the service delivery landscape and consumer expectations as digital identification technology quickly evolves. It has gone through four major revisions, with a fifth now in the works.
In addition to incorporating accrediting programme findings, the next version (release 5) aims to prepare the TDIF for the future of digital identity as verifiable credentials and digital wallets become more popular and technology continues to grow at a rapid pace.
More than 9 million Australians, on the other hand, have decided to create a Digital Identity (using myGovID to build a Basic, Standard, or Strong identity) to access over 125 government services online, with 26 services supplied by states and territories. Over the past year, 1.3 million people used their Digital Identity more than once while 12,000 people have used their Digital Identity more than 65 times.
“We also have more than 1.4 million businesses that use Digital Identity to access business services, like our tax agency. This makes it easier for them to do business by reducing the amount of paperwork they have to do,” Lucy reveals.
Identification fraud can be reduced using a digital identity. In Australia, Digital Identity is predicted to save the economy AU$3 billion per year from identity theft and online fraud. The Australian Government Digital Identity System also provides extra privacy and security safeguards, such as no central database where papers are held, the inability to trace or sell a person’s behaviour, and all information being securely encrypted.
On the surface, this looks to be a simple issue. But, a response must include service standards, service design, accountability systems, collaborative service delivery with other jurisdictions, feedback mechanisms, open data and open government.
The design of performance metrics to monitor end-user experience begins with the service design. That is, gathering baseline data, investigating what data is accessible and, most crucially, finding the questions that yield performance data to enable continual improvement.
Monitoring the performance of a service or product is frequently done through a lens other than digital. The annual Report on Government Services (RoGS), for example, provides an annual study of government services in terms of equity, efficiency, and effectiveness.
The RoGs must incorporate state and territory government services as well as those of the Australian Government because other similar service experiences can influence user satisfaction ratings.
All government services must pause and assess how well they are satisfying the requirements of their users. myGov, the largest platform for providing government services to citizens, is currently subject to an independent user audit. The audit’s recommendations are expected to have significant implications for government service delivery across the board.
The Australian Public Sector (APS), like many other organisations and institutions around the world, is reorienting and evolving to embrace digital transformation and harness the power of data. “Realising that these are critical to our ability to continue to effectively serve the interests of Australia and the Australian people in a world defined by increasing speed and complexity,” says Lucy.
She agrees that it’s hard to keep the momentum and focus needed for long-term digital transformation with all the other priorities and crises that the public sector has to deal with at the same time. A key part of this is recognising and emphasising the link between digital transformation and trust and satisfaction in government on the part of citizens.
Even though the pandemic forced people to rely on their governments more, the overall trend is obvious. Against this backdrop, the Australian Government has made it a top priority and a requirement for the APS to do its job to win back the trust of the people.
“In the DTA, we make it clear how the ongoing digital transformation and the whole-of-government reform agenda are linked and depend on each other,” Lucy asserts.
The agency continues to stress the importance of services that focus on people and are easy to use. They are also building strategies that support the transformation that is sustainable, efficient, and centred on people. She points out that Australians who are happy with government services are twice as likely to trust their government.
Paving the Way for the Future of Digital Transformation
Australia is experiencing the effects of the rapid rate at which the digital world is evolving. Its APS Reform, which has a 2030 perspective, provides the government with a clear vision for the transformation of the public sector. The main objective of this agenda is to revolutionise how digital is done by making the APS more effective and efficient.
Ensuring that people and businesses are at the centre of policy and services is a core tenet of APS Reform. To ensure that transformation meets and surpasses user expectations, early and meaningful interaction and co-design are given a lot of attention in the digital space.
Trust is an issue for governments everywhere and is closely related to citizen expectations. In Australia, as in many other nations, public trust in the government had been dwindling before the outbreak. Although COVID had a brief uptick, regaining the public’s trust remains a major problem facing the government and its institutions.
To ensure that the government puts its constituents at its centre, the digitisation of government is key to the endeavour to reestablish confidence. The Independent Review of the APS in 2019 recognised this priority, and the nation is already moving in the right direction.
The key will be to define who is responsible for delivering initiatives and to raise the transparency of the progress by publicising how well key metrics are performing. However, confidence is not just dependent on how well-run and open the government’s operations are. It includes safeguarding data as well.
Criminal and state-based actors are rapidly developing their offensive capabilities, which is causing the cyber threat landscape to change all the time. These more sophisticated cyber-attacks are aimed against Australia.
A big compromise of Australian Government networks is a matter of “when,” not “if,” without massive reorganisation and cyber upgrading. “In light of this, we are hardening the government’s own IT, through a centralised model of cyber security services, called Cyber Hubs. We’re currently testing the feasibility of the Cyber Hubs model through a pilot. So far the pilot has shown the centralisation of the provision of services can help improve cyber security,” Lucy explains.
The government and institutions have vast amounts of information about Australians. This data is the fuel that drives the progress of artificial intelligence. Over the next 5 to 10 years, there is a chance to harness this data and use AI to innovate and improve public service delivery, resulting in better efficiency and transformation. But AI’s use of this data comes with risks and challenges for everyone, including the public sector. These risks and challenges need to be handled morally and responsibly.
Quantum computing is still in its infancy, but its application could represent the next step in the digital revolution of service delivery. AI is only as good as the data it’s trained on. Large datasets are currently being used by governments and institutions to train AI models and make them more useful.
However, when these datasets become scarce, governments and industries will be forced to find new ways to improve AI programmes. Quantum computing is one such method. Quantum computing refers to a class of supercomputers based on quantum mechanics.
To process information, these quantum computers employ the laws of quantum mechanics. That is, they can detect patterns in data that are nearly impossible to detect using traditional computers. They are substantially different from today’s computers in this regard.
Lucy believes if these powerful AI capabilities are utilised responsibly and data is saved and maintained safely, confidence and trust in government and institutions will grow. “More will need to be done in the next 5 to 10 years to integrate human values like transparency and fairness with AI’s goals of efficiency.”
Lucy is optimistic about the future and the role the DTA will play in guiding the government on developments in digital and ICT. She sees great potential for the agency to act as a government advisory body for its tech-enabled initiatives going forward as well as to serve the country in its digital ambitions. In summary, that is what she believes the agency exists for – to aid the public sector to offer the best citizen experience possible and help the nation thrive.
The Philippines was selected as one of the pilot nations to be connected to the Arterial Research and Educational Network in the Asia Pacific (ARENA-PAC) through its national research and education network (NREN).
The Philippine Research, Education and Government Information Network (PREGINET) will be linked to a global NREN hub in Guam as part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Secretary Renato Solidum, Jr of the Department of Science and Technology Institute (DOST) and Prof Jun Murai of Keio University.
Prof Murai, known as the Internet Samurai and widely regarded as the inventor of the internet in Japan, has played a key role in establishing network testbeds across the Asia Pacific to support innovation and cutting-edge technologies on the global internet.
ARENA-PAC is a backbone network that currently connects Tokyo, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Singapore to a hub in Guam via several 100Gbps circuits. Future membership is anticipated to increase.
The next phase of ARENA-PAC’s advancement of science and technology, which will benefit not only the Asia Pacific region but also the world’s research and educational communities, will begin with this new process for high-speed additional internet connectivity in collaboration with DOST-ASTI.
These kinds of cooperation, according to DOST Secretary Renato, are crucial for the nation, particularly in the field of research and development, where cooperation with other nations in the Asia-Pacific region is crucial.
The fact that this collaboration with the Japanese counterparts is a direct result of the DOST-long-standing ASTI’s relationship with them makes it particularly significant. “Because any cooperation activities will be based on trust and a positive working relationship, it is crucial that we nurture our relationships with our collaborators,” says DOST Secretary Renato.
The precursor to the collection of science infrastructures that ASTI maintains, PREGINET has been igniting research and educational activities across the nation.
Numerous research projects have been conducted in the fields and applications of disaster risk reduction management, bioinformatics, health, and distance learning thanks to these scientific infrastructures. The ARENA-PAC offers members and partners of PREGINET the chance to maximise research opportunities and create successful partnerships within the networked world.
Meanwhile, a new version of the BIR Digital Assistant – Chatbot REVIE is now available and includes TIN Verification/Validation, RDO Finder, and an eComplaint facility, according to the country’s Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
The eComplaint, on the other hand, is a service that enables taxpayers to file complaints against businesses for failing to issue receipts or invoices, engaging in tax evasion, and other violations of the Tax Code.
The eComplaint facility can also be used to file complaints against incompetent BIR employees or officials.
Revie, the BIR’s digital assistant, was introduced in June 2021 to address general inquiries from taxpayers as well as frequently asked questions about registration, BIR Forms, the zonal value of properties, and BIR eServices.
The BIR website’s home page provides 24/7 access to this artificial intelligence. If a taxpayer using the service needs more clarification on Revie’s responses, they can also chat with a live agent.
The enhancement of Chatbot “Revie” is part of the BIR’s Digital Transformation (DX) Programme, which aims to improve taxpayers’ experiences when transacting with the BIR by providing additional channels through which they can raise questions and concerns about their tax compliance obligations.
The public sector across the world is undergoing the most extensive digital transformation ever. The urgency with which citizen services must be updated and improved during the previous two years is a direct result of global events. Moreover, the expectation for instantaneous, significant, and individualised digital experiences has also been increased by the epidemic.
As a result of the pandemic, governments have had to rethink services with more innovation and creativity to meet the increased need for faster time-to-value structures that are more agile and collaborative. On the other hand, many organisations in the public and nonprofit sectors felt pressured to improve their digital services to meet rising expectations.
Singaporean government agencies have done an excellent job of providing citizens with cutting-edge, trustworthy digital services in the fields of healthcare, education, and social support. These agencies provided residents with seamless service by utilising cutting-edge digital tools and services such as telemedicine, intelligent chatbots, mobile apps like TraceTogether and distance learning.
While there is still a way to go in transforming many offline services, there is much potential to innovate and provide residents with more user-friendly services. When looking for government services, citizens do not want to fill out numerous forms and browse multiple websites. People have come to anticipate a level of service that is both consistent and easily accessible via the internet.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that government agencies need to better use innovative digital tools and platforms to foster more strategic and all-encompassing community interaction. While this transition is underway, efforts are being made to make sure that those folks who are not technologically savvy are not left behind.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight on 23 November 2022 at the M Hotel Singapore provided the most up-to-date information on how government agencies may develop seamless, personalised, citizen-centric digital experiences.
Digital Government Provides Simple, Secure, Citizen-Centric Services
According to Mohit Sagar, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of OpenGov Asia, the ultimate test of digital government success is the importance of simple, seamless and secure citizen-centric services.
Adopting a human-centred strategy for every step of the digitalisation process, making sure that the citizens were served with compassion rather than being overly thorough when digitalising every analogue process cannot be overstated.
“We must strive for human-centeredness in our digital government by incorporating service journey mapping and reimagining services and processes along the way to meet citizens and businesses where they are,” believes Mohit.
By adopting agile technological development, organisations are better able to respond to rapid changes and provide better solutions for the current situation.
To ensure that no citizen is excluded, governments are adopting an omnichannel approach to provide seamless, personalised delivery and/or communication of key government services across multiple agencies via digital, phone and physical channels that integrate high-tech functions.
In meeting the public’s expectations for inclusive, equitable and accessible digital services, government agencies are modernising their technology infrastructures. Access to equal and inclusive online and in-person services is a significant focus as they increase their emphasis on the customer experience.
Having rich analysis, content management and hyper-personalisation tools allow both private and public organisations to make their services accessible to everyone.
The public deserves an intuitive digital experience, so the government organisation must make its services available to everyone using tools for hyper-personalisation, content management and rich analysis.
“The Singpass app is the best example of this in Singapore which the government made to ensure a more inclusive and diverse public service,” Mohit shares. “With such solutions, platforms and apps, Singapore’s public sector enjoys high levels of citizen satisfaction, which bodes well for the future.”
A successful digital government will measure citizen satisfaction through key digital services provided by the government and pinpoint areas that need improvement. The main goal is to promote an innovative culture and use new technologies to improve the lives of the citizens.
It is becoming increasingly important that a government comprehends the user experience and impact of its digital services as more people interact with it through websites and mobile applications.
Governments are placing extra emphasis on digital transformation. Offering a seamless digital experience makes sure that the public sector can continue to serve the citizens and be useful and accessible in the future. “An organisation can easily stagnate without a concerted effort when it comes to digital transformation.”
Shashank Sharma, Head – Digital Experience Business, Adobe South East Asia recognises that the pandemic increased the need to modernise and innovate more quickly than ever before. It also raised the bar for agile open team structures across all industries, including telcos, intending to have faster go-to-market than in the financial and public sectors.
“We’ve been pushed to think creatively and with ingenuity. But the biggest problems we face in the public sector or public service agencies are outdated systems,” says Shashank. “There are legacy systems and databases that are siloed between various government agencies.”
The COVID-19 crisis highlighted the importance of a broad-based strategy for digital transformation. The trade-offs between policy goals may have changed as the health and economic crisis developed.
The fact is that most local governments rely on siloed software systems with data stores that are frequently redundant for decades. The systems never interact with one another or exchange data. Although it might have appeared that this was the best way to maintain the accuracy of the data in each system, in practice it results in duplicate data, errors and workflow issues.
Citizens now have high expectations for government services because they have been enjoying an exceptional digital experience in the private sector where their needs are met immediately – anywhere, anytime on any device.
The term “citizen-centric” refers to a change in the focus of service delivery from the interests of the government to those of the citizens. Although the quality of public services may be comparable across socioeconomic classes, citizens may draw different conclusions about service because of differences in how those services are perceived and expected to perform.
To make digital transformation work for growth and well-being, policies are required. Cross-cutting concerns like gender, skills, digital governance, and data governance must also be considered.
A country can create a coordinated, whole-of-government approach to digital transformation with the aid of a government digital policy that takes into account all citizens’ needs and preferences.
Establishing a governance framework that supports coordination, articulating a strategic vision, evaluating important digital trends and policies and developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy are all necessary steps in the process of reevaluating current digital policies.
To ensure equity and inclusiveness in the projects and services that are delivered, the government is looking to change the policies that affect people’s lives. “As more and more digital services join the public sector, you can be sure that the guidelines will increase.”
John Mackenney, Practice Director – Digital Strategy APAC at Adobe, discussed the company’s creation of a Rapid Response Programme and COVID resources hub. These were designed to assist the government in adapting to the needs of their workforce and the people they serve when the pandemic hits in 2020.
“At Adobe, partnering across industries to improve digital customer experiences is a significant part of who we are. And we have partnered with governments to unleash creativity, accelerate document productivity, and power the digital business with our platforms,” John reveals.
They have accomplished a goal worth celebrating after a year. In all 50 states of the U.S., Adobe is now collaborating with the federal government as well as with specific agencies at the state, county and city levels – from e-signatures to powering customised communications to constituents.
According to John, citizens expect more individualised digital experiences since they demand more open, dependable, accessible and responsive service. Governments, therefore, must empower citizens and concentrate on increasing public satisfaction while lowering service costs.
Governments today have become more citizen-centric, data-driven, proactive, and responsive to help citizens and businesses, especially during difficult times.
“Making data available that can enhance experiences and economic outcomes is one of the government’s initiatives, as is ensuring that citizens receive consistent and understandable information,” John asserts.
Most countries are concentrated at the emerging level when it comes to customer experience. There is no centralised customer portal for any state, but leaders set themselves apart by customising the user experience (top services, searches, portals) and by digitising high-priority applications.
Moreover, countries are predominantly at the emerging maturity level, like customer experience. Overall, they discovered that most government websites are designed with desktops in mind rather than mobile. As most constituents will attempt to access government websites and information via their mobile device, this is at odds with an accessible strategy. Mobile site speeds typically lag desktop site speeds by 44%.
“We have the widest range of scores across all states in our digital social equity dimension,” says John.
In terms of digital equity, more than half of the states are in the early stages and by focusing on user experience (high contrast, readability, large text, text-only pages), as well as by providing a wide range of language options and services, websites can be made much easier to understand.
Three crucial capabilities are needed to deliver personalised experiences. The first is the data and insights about citizen journeys through both assisted and unassisted channels. Connecting data from various government agencies makes insights accessible to all.
The collaboration and content come in second. Creating content more quickly and widely across all channels (online and off) will maximise cooperation between departments and within agencies when reusing materials.
The third is the journeys – where governments customise the experience on the terms of the citizens and use context to make sure each journey is pertinent, unique, and accessible.
Personalisation of government services, according to John, is enabled by email and web personalisation tools. Both tools enable government agencies to better adapt to citizen needs.
Any personalisation strategy must provide genuine value to citizens and should ideally achieve the following: Make it easier for citizens to find relevant information: make useful information available to citizens who may not be aware of it; reduce information entry that is repeated or unnecessary and assist citizens with complicated transactions.
John suggests that governments should personalise the experience of their citizens for three reasons:
- Time savings due to content accessibility will result in increasing service usage due to streamlined application procedures;
- Time savings and compliance through the fusion of information from various government agencies;
- Time savings by delivering the most pertinent content.
Personalising citizen experiences will enhance the interaction with government services, resulting in quicker and more satisfying decisions and outcomes. “Increased use of government goods and services, then citizens satisfaction follows from this,” concludes John.
According to Lucy Poole, General Manager – Digital Strategy, Architecture and Discovery Division, Digital Transformation Agency, Australia, to facilitate improved decision-making, streamlined engagement, increased efficiency, and the rollout of a slew of new digital government services to citizens and businesses, it is essential to recognise data as a critical enabler and to share this data on a whole-government basis.
“Public service organisations must deal with too much complexity and rapid change to effectively respond with what they already have on hand,” Lucy feels.
However, these very same organisations are in a prime position to connect with ecosystem allies who have access to a wealth of resources and skills. This will lead to the operations, services and technologies being expanded into partner organisations.
The Australian government is looking into different ways to build trust, which is crucial as countries recover from the global pandemic and prepare for new challenges. This citizen trust is essential for ensuring the success of a variety of public policies that rely on the public’s behavioural responses.
In this context, the importance of data sharing cannot be underestimated. The pandemic has demonstrated that accelerated data sharing is feasible. The current challenge for government leaders is to institutionalise these data-sharing advancements to support the upcoming innovation wave and the general welfare.
“Governments should start by assuming that the public will find value in data and that it should be shared,” Lucy asserts.
The Australian government has pledged to lead the world’s digital economy and society by 2030 and rank among the top three digital governments by 2025.
With its vision for 2030, the way the government helps its people transition into adulthood, start higher education or training, start a family, retire, take care of a loved one and go through other significant life events is being reexamined and improved.
Additionally, the public will have the option to share information across pertinent services and personalise services. By pre-filling and submitting their forms upon request, pre-evaluating their eligibility and initiating automatic payments, will offer a seamless experience.
Personalised government services will benefit those who need them most while also being more convenient for everyone.
The country aspires to improve its ability to collaborate with its organisations and community to enable better service outcomes. “To streamline our engagement and free up the public to concentrate on achieving the results they are passionate about; we will use technology-enabled platforms,” Lucy opines.
To achieve this, the Australian government is looking to make the appropriate investments in digital and ICT-enabled infrastructure at the appropriate time and approach. The Digital Transformation Agency of Australia will help agencies to harness the true potential of advanced technologies.
The Digital Transformation Agency provides strategic advice and assurance to the Australian Government on its digital and ICT-enabled investments to help drive the transformation of public services.
Some of the benefits and challenges of coordinating investment across government are that government employees and contractors must possess the necessary skills to spearhead the government’s efforts to transform into a digital economy. Using both established and emerging technologies, they must aid in building better services.
“To make training, hiring and career development for the Australian Public Service easier, we will identify and describe the digital skills we need. This includes initiatives to find new talent through cadetships, graduate placements, and internships,” Lucy explains.
These digital skills are being ingrained throughout the government. The investment is a part of the modernisation fund established by the Australian Government in partnership with the Australian Public Service Commission.
“We anticipate that as new skill requirements materialise, this capability will change,” says Lucy. “Cybersecurity and cloud computing management, as well as design and research skills, are emerging needs. To support Australian small and medium-sized businesses in the future, the nation needs to pinpoint areas where they can develop new capabilities.”
The delivery of digital transformation will be led by Australian businesses and their workforce. They will purchase cost-effective technology from around the world and implement it using Australian skills and ingenuity.
“We will manage risks for the government and our business partners through the way we interact with our suppliers, and we are changing our sourcing policies to make the government more business-friendly,” Lucy says. “This method of modern procurement is collaborative and iterative. It enables the government to purchase goods and services with less risk and for a better price.”
Shashank noted that all delegates agreed to prioritise digital experiences and he encouraged them to begin their seamless journey. Data connectivity, he is convinced, enables governments to drive relevant, personalised interactions and is becoming increasingly important in the realm of innovation. “It adds value to citizens.”
Governments should put the interoperability of services to make sure that the data and citizens relate to the digital journey. Essentially, interoperability is the fundamental capability of various computerised goods or systems to connect and exchange data with one another without hindrance in either implementation or access.
Shashank reiterated that equity and accessibility considerations for a digital journey are vital to success as were empowering policies and trust in the government.
“A key component of the developing global economy, which is increasingly dependent on connectivity, data use, and new technologies, is digital trust,” says Shashank. “Technology needs to be secure and used responsibly to be trusted.”
Mohit underscored the importance of a skillset in the digital journey. Relevant expertise will assist businesses and services in generating leads, increasing demand and attracting traffic. “With the appropriate strategy and execution, the right skill set will help people in all roles understand how their contributions can more effectively drive success.”
Moreover, he recognises the importance of cloud technology. The cloud allows organisations to scale and adapt at a rapid pace, accelerating innovation, driving business agility, streamlining operations and lowering costs.
Finally, in this ever-evolving landscape and VUCA environment, partnerships are essential and inevitable. Through the right alliances, every organisation will be able to reap the benefits of digital transformation.
“Because digital partnership enables them to modernise legacy processes, accelerate efficient workflows, bolster security, and increase profitability,” Mohit concludes.
The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) has announced that more than 50 digital platforms have been created to accelerate digital transformation in the government, the economy, and society. Platforms in the field of digital governance include cloud computing, local government service platforms, security operation centres, information systems to handle administrative procedures, virtual assistants, digital maps, and new-generation online meeting platforms.
According to a press release, digital platforms are seen as a breakthrough solution for speeding up digital transformation. In February, the MIC announced a programme to promote the use of national digital platforms. Under the programme, the Ministry released the first-ever list of 35 national platforms.
The digital socio-economic development strategy approved in March named 54 digital platforms, including 35 that were prioritised this year. In October, MIC put into operation the National Digital Transformation Portal. On this portal, state agencies can find information on digital government, which introduces open technology, platforms for digital government development, and models and articles about digital government.
On the National Digital Transformation Portal, citizens can access information on the digital society page, which has platforms to serve people’s daily needs as well as instructions on how to use digital products and services. The Ministry will periodically update and publish the list of national digital platforms on the National Digital Transformation Portal, the press release said.
Furthermore, information for businesses can be found on the SMEdx page, which introduces platforms for small and medium-sized businesses and models for the digital transformation of SMEs. By September, the SMEdx programme had about 490,923 small and medium-sized businesses accessing and experiencing the digital tools of the programme. In the first six months of 2022 alone, more than 318,000 small and medium-sized enterprises participated in the SMEdx digital transformation programme, an increase of 760% compared to 2021. In September 2022, the whole country had 62,047 enterprises officially using SMEdx platforms, an increase of more than 20 times compared to that of March 2022 with 3,000 enterprises.
Vietnamese’s use of domestic digital platforms recorded a year-on-year rise of 23.5% in August this year, with 494 million users. According to data from MIC, Vietnamese citizens spent more than 934 million hours on local platforms, making up 13.77% of the total time they spent on all digital platforms.
On average, smartphone users spent 9.93 hours on Vietnamese digital platforms in August, up 11.44% from July and 4.67% from January this year. Five local platforms reported more than 10 million users monthly. Digital platform users on mobile devices have been on the rise as the number of new app downloads hit about 312 million, surging 19% compared to that in July. With this momentum, Vietnam is projected to maintain 7th place in the number of new app downloads globally.
Nearly 80% of the population in Vietnam are digital consumers. About 58% of digital consumers in the country use digital banking solutions, e-wallets, and online money transfer applications, as OpenGov Asia reported earlier.