OpenGov recently caught up with Mr Kalamullah Ramli, Director General, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology of the Republic of Indonesia (KOMINFO), to discuss KOMINFO’s focus for the upcoming year, some of the projects that are in development, and future aspirations for the Ministry.
Ministry of Communication and Information Technology of the Republic of Indonesia is the Indonesian Government Agency in charge on telecommunication, broadcasting, information technology and public communication and Information affairs. It works to provide a better future for all Indonesians and developing a world-class Indonesian communications and information technology sector.
Currently, KOMINFO is driving many digital transformation initiatives across the nation with respect to increasing broadband access, improving digital services, and exploring new ways to improve Indonesia’s ICT abilities. We wanted to discuss this with Mr Kalamullah Ramli while we had the chance to meet with him recently.
KOMINFO focuses on increasing Broadband access
To develop greater utilization of ICT in rural areas, KOMINFO announced this year that it will launch a programme for Integrated Broadband Village Program (LOKPRI).
“Our focus in Broadband is to improve the digital capacity of Indonesia,” said Mr Kalamullah Ramli, “The people should take advantage of the technological capacity. We need to connect all of the villages and cities, this will improve the nation’s technological abilities.”
This is following the order of the National Agency which calls for integrated broadband in remote areas. Rural villages will be equipped with internet access, end user devices, and mobile applications that are relevant to the lifestyle of the local people.
Through this program, internet will be made readily available to fishing, farming, and other rural village communities. This program will help support local communities in their daily routines.
KOMINFO estimates that the LOKPRI program will provide access to about 50 villages by the end of this year. This number is said to increase in the upcoming years, increasing the scope of rural connectivity.
“We are looking to develop both fibre, wireless, and satellite broadband technologies,” stated Mr Kalamullah Ramli, “Indonesia is open to different types of technology as long as there is a great capacity to increase broadband access.”
Digital Transformation driven by KOMINFO
In improving digital capacity within Indonesia, KOMINFO is looking to improve the quality of the technological ecosystem. A greater tech ecosystem will help provide greater ICT access to citizens.
With this, KOMINFO is looking to develop a unified communications network and application services within government.
“We are working to connect all the government ministries and offices with a dedicated network,” said Mr Kalamullah Ramli.
In order to create a unified communications network, KOMINFO must face the challenge of integrating this dedicated network throughout the complex geographical landscape of Indonesia.
KOMINFO aims to overcome this challenge and increase the technological capacity of government organisations so that they can deliver greater services to its citizens.
KOMINFO is also looking to expand on its application services to meet mobility demands. By providing citizens with virtual access to public sector services, applications improve the digital means of citizens and public servants alike.
“Applications are very important to technology infrastructure development,” said Mr Kalamullah Ramli.
KOMINFO is also looking in expanding applications within the areas of government, finance, health, education, and procurement.
One way KOMINFO is doing this, is by welcoming application developers to get involved with the accelerated broadband programme. Developers are encouraged to create and submit applications which aim to improve the programs ability to support these rural communities.
If these applications are approved by KOMINFO, the applications will be available for access by up to 50 million users via private mobile devices.
Digital Financial Inclusion across Indonesia
In the near future, KOMINFO will be looking at increasing digital financial inclusion across the nation. Digital Financial Inclusion initiatives provide digital access to, and use of, formal financial services by excluded and underserved populations.
With this, KOMINFO will have to face the challenge of bridging the gap between two giant sectors.
“We need to coordinate these operations between telecommunications industry and the financial authority agency,” stated Mr Kalamullah Ramli, “This is not easy as they are two large sectors of business, which must come to a convergence. At the same time, they are working to maintain their own sustainability and security.”
The telecommunications industry is at the point of 90 percent penetration- thus, mobile banking would prove to have a great impact on citizens. Mr. Kalamullah Ramli is interested in making digital financial inclusion a reality in the near future, across Indonesia.
The National Cyber and Crypto Agency of the Republic of Indonesia (BSSN RI), in a joint effort with 18 Regional Governments (Pemda), has embarked on a collaborative initiative. Their objective is to safeguard the integrity and sovereignty of the nation against an array of cyber threats that have become increasingly prevalent in today’s digital landscape. To formalise this commitment and ensure a unified front in addressing cyber threats, they signed a Cooperation Agreement (PKS) focused on utilising Electronic Certificates.
Through Presidential Regulation Number 95 of 2018 concerning the Electronic-Based Government System (SPBE), the government strives to realise clean, effective, transparent, and accountable governance and quality and reliable public services. Therefore, implementing SPBE as a form of digital transformation is a necessity carried out by every government institution.
The Chief Secretary of BSSN, Susilo Wibowo, conveyed that BSSN, through the Electronic Certification Institute (BSrE), provides electronic certification services to support information security in e-government implementation.
“At present, BSrE has been officially designated as an Electronic Certification Authority for Agencies based on the Recognition Decree Number 103 of 2022 from the Ministry of Communication and Informatics of the Republic of Indonesia,” he stated.
Furthermore, Susilo explained that by using electronic certificates in Electronic Signature services, BSrE builds trust by providing three aspects of information security based on asymmetric cryptography systems: authentication assurance, integrity assurance, and non-repudiation assurance.
“With the use of TTE, in addition to security aspects, it is hoped to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of bureaucratic processes, thereby creating easily accessible, fast, and straightforward public services in data processing, as well as the availability of accurate data,” he elaborated.
It should also be noted that as the Single Agency for Electronic Certification Providers, BSrE BSSN has the responsibility to provide electronic certificate services to meet the needs of 5.2 million government employees, military personnel and police officers. As of September 25, 2023, BSrE has issued over 335,000 electronic certificates integrated into 967 electronic systems.
Susilo envisioned that the 18 Regional Governments present and BSrE BSSN can implement the agreed-upon points with full commitment to realising work effectiveness, integrated work patterns, sustainability, and the successful utilisation of electronic certificates in the future.
The meeting was attended by the Regent, Mayor, Regional Secretary, Head of the Regional Information and Communication Agency, and officials from both Regional Governments and BSSN.
The 18 Regional Governments (Pemda) involved in the PKS are the North Sulawesi Provincial Government, Bandar Lampung City Government, Bungo Regency Government, South Buton Regency Government, Cirebon Regency Government, Garut Regency Government, Gayo Lues Regency Government, Katingan Regency Government, Lebak Regency Government, Merauke Regency Government, South Nias Regency Government, Parigi Moutong Regency Government, West Pasaman Regency Government, Sleman Regency Government, Sumedang Regency Government, Sukoharjo Regency Government, Raja Ampat Regency Government, and Tanah Bumbu Regency Government.
It marks the seriousness of BSSN in its commitment to fostering not only the security of the nation but also the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations. The collaboration with 18 Regional Governments underscores the collective effort to strengthen the cybersecurity infrastructure, ensuring it remains robust in the face of evolving cyber threats.
Space technology and its utilisation in remote sensing have contributed to achieving sustainable development goals in Indonesia since the 1970s. To further enhance national space capabilities, the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) is currently developing a digital satellite constellation known as the Nusantara Satellite Constellation.
BRIN’s Deputy for Development Policy, Mego Pinandito, emphasised BRIN’s role in bridging policymakers, academia, and the public to leverage the upcoming satellite developments. This inclusive approach fosters discussions about the satellite constellation from various perspectives.
Multidisciplinary and multinational speakers addressed technical specifications, potential contributions of satellite technology to national development, potential partnerships with national and international industries, and strategic policy challenges.
Indonesia has mandated the National Remote Sensing Data Bank at BRIN, through Presidential Instruction No. 6 of 2012, along with space laws and government regulations, to provide data and satellite services free of charge to ministries/agencies, local governments, and universities. This satellite constellation’s presence will support national infrastructure, unlock new opportunities for progress development, and play a vital role in improving connectivity, disaster management, environmental monitoring, and economic development.
Mego expressed his optimism for strengthening partnerships and collaborations with the international community, as space exploration and technology are believed to provide a platform for mutually beneficial global cooperation. The collaborative nature of space fosters knowledge exchange and contributes to international efforts in addressing shared challenges, such as climate change, disaster management, and sustainable development. By joining forces with other nations, Indonesia aims to leverage collective expertise and resources, amplifying the impact of its space programmes on a global scale.
Robertus Heru Triharjanto, Head of the Flight and Space Research Organisation at BRIN, provided a comprehensive overview of the Nusantara Satellite Constellation programme. This visionary initiative encompasses a constellation of 18 satellites, each meticulously designed to fulfil diverse and pivotal missions integral to Indonesia’s progress and prosperity.
Among these 18 satellites, several are strategically dedicated to high-resolution remote sensing, incorporating optical and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) capabilities. These advanced remote sensing capabilities offer Indonesia unparalleled insights into its landscapes and seascapes.
For instance, they enable the precise monitoring of maritime regions, empowering law enforcement agencies to combat illegal fishing activities effectively. Moreover, they provide essential data for strategic rice production monitoring, enhancing food security. The satellites contribute to pollution mapping, support carbon trading initiatives to safeguard the environment, and monitor topographical changes such as land subsidence, which is critical for disaster preparedness and mitigation.
Additionally, the programme includes a dedicated relay satellite designed specifically to address the need to monitor illegal fishing activities, especially across extensive maritime areas. Equipped with advanced instruments and technologies, the Nusantara Satellite Constellation is a highly strategic and essential initiative for Indonesia.
Meanwhile, Herjon CM Panggaben, Director of Basic Land and Spatial Measurement at the Ministry of Agrarian and Spatial Planning/National Land Agency (ATR/BPN), added that the need for high-resolution data and services is crucial to accelerate land registration in Indonesia.
Access to satellite imagery for 126 million land parcels throughout Indonesia is anticipated, supporting spatial planning, including Regional Spatial Plans (RTRWs) and Detailed Spatial Plans (RDTRs) in all districts/cities. It aids in identifying land use and utilisation in Right to Cultivate (HGU) permits, improving land boundary quality, mitigating risks associated with land use changes, and updating paddy field base maps.
Through such endeavours, Indonesia solidifies its presence in space. It demonstrates a strong commitment to utilising advanced satellite technology to address strategic challenges in various fields crucial for the country’s progress and security.
Minister of PANRB Abdullah Azwar Anas stated that in 2023, the diplomatic relations between the Republic of Indonesia and Korea will reach its 50th year. Both countries continuously work to enhance their relations and cooperation, both bilaterally, regionally, and multilaterally.
In light of this, the governments of Indonesia and Korea are continuing their cooperation in Electronic Government Systems (EGS) through the Digital Government Cooperation Forum. This event, organised through the collaboration of the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB), the Ministry of the Interior and Safety (MoIS), and the National Information Society Agency (NIA), discusses the implementation of cooperation in 2023 and the cooperation project plans for 2024.
“The closeness of this relationship and cooperation is certainly supported by the complementary nature of resources and advantages possessed by Indonesia and Korea, in addition to the excellent economic and political progress, making opportunities for cooperation in various sectors increasingly wide open,” said Minister PANRB Abdullah Azwar Anas.
In 2023, the governments of Indonesia and Korea embarked on a cooperation project related to digital ID development strategies and poverty alleviation digitalisation strategies. As for the extension of the DGCC cooperation project in 2024, there are several project proposals from the DGCC Committee, including support for government efforts in digitalising Nusantara City into a smart city focusing on intelligent government aspects.
“These cooperation proposals include the use of Big Data and AI for government administrative services, open-source technology-based designs, and big data designs in service provision,” explained Anas.
In his opinion, strengthening the strategic partnership between Korea and Indonesia for a shared future, especially in digital transformation, is not just an aspiration but a necessity. Indonesia’s digital transformation is already on the right track, where digital transformation serves as an accelerator for development acceleration.
Strengthening partnerships with Korea, one of the global technology industry leaders can bring Indonesia significant benefits. Korea has extensive experience and expertise in digital transformation and cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and 5G. Through knowledge sharing and close collaboration, Indonesia can accelerate the implementation of these technologies to support various sectors, including industry, education, healthcare, and public services.
Furthermore, strengthening this partnership can also open doors for investments in Indonesia’s technology ecosystem. With financial and technical support from Korea, Indonesian startups and technology companies can further develop their innovations and compete in the global market. This will create new job opportunities, drive economic growth, and strengthen Indonesia’s position in an increasingly interconnected international community.
“Interoperability of systems and applications continues to be pursued to realise integrated services nationally. However, we continue to strive and learn best practices from various countries, especially Korea, to strengthen digital transformation breakthroughs in Indonesia,” he said.
NIA President Jong Sung Hwang stated that in the future, his agency will actively assist Indonesia in digital governance, similar to what they did by establishing NIA in 1987 to support the digitalisation of the South Korean government. “The South Korean government used to have 17,060 silo systems, but they managed to integrate them all into an all-in-one service,” explained Jong Sung Hwang.
Jong Sung Hwang added that in the era of digital governance, everything should run smoothly, and data should be easily accessible. “Usually, data preparation takes a lot of time, but with data infrastructure, it can be done more quickly and data is easier to use,” he added.
In an era where technology defines many aspects of daily life, strengthening a strategic partnership with Korea in digital transformation is not just an option but a necessity. This step will help Indonesia address challenges and seize opportunities from the global digital revolution. With strong cooperation between the two countries, Indonesia can achieve a brighter and more sustainable future in the digital era.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi highlighted the digital dimension in the country’s counter-terrorism strategies during her recent address at the Ministerial Plenary Meeting of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF) in New York.
Minister Retno emphasised the significance of comprehensive rehabilitation and reintegration (R&R) efforts within Indonesia. Notably, these efforts extend beyond former terrorist inmates, encompassing strengthening communities and the environments that receive them. The focus on digital aspects of R&R is evident in Indonesia’s approach.
Indonesia has adopted a multifaceted strategy to counter extremism, as outlined in its National Action Plan for Prevention and Countering Extremism. This strategy underscores the “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approaches, highlighting the collaborative roles of the government and civil society. Combining hard and soft approaches, Indonesia actively engages communities and fosters international cooperation in its counter-terrorism efforts.
The digital dimension is also prominent in Indonesia’s second pillar of counter-terrorism strategy, which aims to harness technological advancements while ensuring they are not misused for extremist purposes. The rapid evolution of technology has created opportunities for disseminating extremist ideas, demanding constant vigilance. In response, Indonesia introduced the “Pusat Pengetahuan Indonesia (I-KHub),” or the Indonesian Knowledge Hub.
I-KHub is not merely a digital repository of information but a dynamic platform that actively contributes to Indonesia’s counter-terrorism endeavours. Integrating data systems and facilitating evidence-based decision-making empowers policymakers, law enforcement agencies, and community leaders with actionable insights.
One of the critical features of I-KHub is its ability to analyse trends and patterns in extremist activities. Leveraging advanced data analytics, it can identify emerging threats and hotspots, allowing for proactive measures to be taken. This early warning system is instrumental in preventing extremist ideologies from taking hold in vulnerable communities.
Moreover, I-KHub is a collaborative space where experts, researchers, and stakeholders from various sectors can share knowledge and best practices. This collective intelligence enriches the understanding of extremist narratives and recruitment tactics and facilitates the development of effective counter-narratives.
The platform’s outreach extends to educational institutions, where it supports curriculum development aimed at countering extremism. I-KHub is vital in promoting digital literacy and critical thinking among students by providing educators with relevant resources and insights. This proactive approach helps inoculate young minds against the allure of extremist ideologies.
In the digital realm, I-KHub monitors online spaces where extremist content proliferates. It can promptly identify and report such content through advanced algorithms and data analysis. This collaborative effort with tech companies and social media platforms contributes to removing extremist material from the internet, disrupting the digital recruitment efforts of extremist groups.
The third aspect of Indonesia’s counter-terrorism strategy focuses on creating a secure environment to counter extremism. This includes digital-driven educational programmes targeting women and children. Minister Retno highlighted that extremist ideologies thrive in environments rife with hatred, emphasising the role of digital tools in promoting understanding, tolerance, and peace.
In her closing, Minister Retno expressed that GCTF member countries would firmly commit to ensuring the inclusive implementation of the R&R strategy. The Global Counter-Terrorism Forum is a vital international platform for global cooperation and information exchange on counter-terrorism and violence-based extremism.
Indonesia underscores the country’s commitment to harnessing technology for a safer and more peaceful society. Indonesia’s multifaceted counter-terrorism approach, particularly its emphasis on digital knowledge sharing through I-KHub, reflects its dedication to addressing the global challenge of extremism with modern tools and strategies.
The National Cyber and Crypto Agency (BSSN) acknowledges that technological advancements will trigger increasingly massive and diverse cybersecurity risks and threats. These threats focus on social, psychological, and behavioural aspects and activities aimed at influencing or manipulating individuals, groups, or communities, which can disrupt mindsets, behaviours, and human interactions.
Instances of these social cybersecurity threats include disseminating false electronic information, also known as information disruption. Information disruption is divided into misinformation, disinformation, and misinformation, real threats that can spread fear or provoke and lead to the widespread dissemination of false news and even propaganda.
One of BSSN’s steps in anticipating social cyberattacks is to strengthen the culture of information security by collaborating with the Directorate General of Public Information and Communication (Ditjen IKP) of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology through the joint creation of content in Komik Komunika with the theme “Digital Deception.”
Acting Director of Security and Information Control Operations at BSSN, Satryo Suryantoro, welcomed the cooperation and collaboration established by publishing Komik Komunika edition 48. The introduction of the character Cody in this comic edition strengthens the connection between the world of cybersecurity literacy and a more engaging visual approach.
Previously, Cody was introduced in the cybersecurity literacy series titled “Cybernaut Generation 1.0.” Cody’s presence in the comic provides continuity in delivering crucial messages about cybersecurity to various audiences, especially the younger generation, who may be more connected to visual forms of communication.
There is also the Latest Social Cyber Education News (BESTI), which has successfully published 8 editions in 2 languages. The presence of bilingual versions is an effort to ensure that as many people can receive messages related to cybersecurity as possible. Using two languages, BESTI strives to embrace diverse audiences, including those who may be more comfortable with one language. It also makes the cybersecurity education approach more inclusive and far-reaching.
In other words, this comic is part of a broader strategy to educate the public about the importance of cybersecurity and how they can protect themselves online. Through various communication tools such as comics, literacy materials, and educational news, this effort aims to reach a wider audience and create a better understanding of the challenges and solutions in the ever-evolving cyber world. The more people receive this message, the better the community’s ability to face existing cybersecurity threats.
Satryo is optimistic that cybersecurity literacy in Indonesia can be strengthened through ongoing cooperation and collaboration. He plans to collaborate even in Remote, Frontier, and Outermost Areas (Daerah 3T).
“I am optimistic that the results of the collaboration, such as Komik Komunika, can be accessible to the younger generation, both in urban areas and in Daerah 3T,” Satryo adds.
Nursodik Gunarjo, Director of Media Management at the Directorate General of IKP Kemenkominfo, stated that cybersecurity awareness is conveyed through various media, including comics. According to Gunarjo, comics are deliberately chosen because images and visual presentations appeal more strongly to the younger generation. Moreover, the fact that Indonesia is the largest consumer of comics in the world.
He also expressed his optimism that cybersecurity literacy through comics can increase the younger generation’s understanding, awareness, and participation in efforts to maintain Indonesia’s cyber sovereignty.
“Without active participation from the younger generation in applying cybersecurity, the risks to our country in the digital world will increase,” he said.
Hoya plants are a type of ornamental plant known for their ability to absorb air pollutants. These plants offer significant benefits, including their use in traditional medicine and skincare. Due to their wide range of advantages, Hoya plants have become popular among the public. Therefore, accurate species identification of Hoya plants with a high level of precision has become crucial.
Accurate species identification has broad implications in various fields, including biodiversity conservation practices, ecological studies, and horticulture. With precise knowledge of Hoya species, researchers and experts can more effectively implement conservation practices to preserve the biodiversity of these plants. Furthermore, a deeper understanding of Hoya species can provide valuable insights into ecological studies related to these plants.
Recognising the importance of accurate Hoya plant species identification, Shidiq Al-Hakim, a Researcher Specialist at the Centre for Data and Information Science Research and Innovation at the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), decided to conduct specialised research in the development of a Knowledge Application System related to Hoya plants.
This step was taken to facilitate a better understanding of Hoya plants, their benefits, and various other important aspects related to these plants. This research is expected to significantly contribute to maintaining biodiversity and sustainable utilisation of Hoya plants.
Shidiq explained that he and his team have successfully developed an application called iHoya. “iHoya is a Knowledge Application System about Hoya plants. In the course of this iHoya research, he went through three important stages, namely building User-Centred Design (UCD), which is a design approach that focuses on understanding the needs, preferences, and experiences of users in developing products or services. Next, he created a species identification system using Convolutional Neural Network (CNN), and finally applied it in the form of a mobile application,” he explained.
Shidiq continued by explaining that this research originated from questions about the relevant form of Knowledge Application System to bridge the gap between Hoya plant enthusiasts and botany experts with in-depth knowledge in the field. “In this research process, he tried to find ways to connect experts with specialised knowledge in a particular field with communities in need of that knowledge,” he added.
Furthermore, Shidiq explained that the progress of this research involves finalising the development of the mobile application iHoya and its evaluation by user communities. They have also added a dataset of Hoya leaf and flower images to improve the system’s accuracy and expand the range of Hoya species that can be identified. Additionally, they have developed a species identification system for Hoya plants based on ontology.
Esa Prakasa, the Head of the Centre for Data and Information Science Research and Innovation at the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), expressed that BRIN also take a collaboration with external parties, especially with universities, which helps in developing research that directly benefits society,” he stated.
By enforcing collaboration, organisations can harness the collective power of their teams and stakeholders, leading to increased productivity. This collaborative effort enables the pooling of diverse skills, knowledge, and resources, ultimately resulting in more comprehensive and effective solutions to complex challenges.
In an exclusive interview with OpenGov Asia, John Mackenney, Practise Director of Digital Strategy for APAC, Adobe shares insights from his deep experience into the changing landscape of public sector services and citizens’ satisfaction.
An expert in government initiatives and digital transformation, John delved into the shifts observed since the COVID-19 pandemic and explored the evolving government frameworks in Southeast Asia. He highlighted the recalibration of priorities and the emphasis on efficiency in the public sector, underscoring the need for a deeper understanding of the economic impact of digitalisation.
Reflecting on the impact of COVID-19 on government initiatives, John believes that the pandemic served as a major catalyst for change, driving rapid digital transformation across various sectors. He acknowledged the significance of the pandemic in shaping government agendas but also noted a notable shift in focus. There was a change in priorities, with a growing emphasis on achieving efficiency within the public sector.
John draws attention to the initial surge of government investments and rapid deployments witnessed during the peak of the pandemic. However, as the immediate crisis began to subside, governments globally began to reassess their strategies and budgets. This shift led to a recalibration of projects and a re-evaluation of the value proposition of digital initiatives in the public sector.
In reviewing the journey thus far, there is a clear inward focus that has emerged in the post-COVID era. Governments are now actively seeking ways to optimise operations within the public sector. While the return to physical offices may not be universal, flexible working arrangements have gained prominence. This flexibility aligns with the broader objective of improving efficiency within government bodies.
The observable trend of transformation programmes in the public sector is the slowing down from their initial pace. This deceleration can be attributed to various factors, including budget constraints and the need for a more comprehensive understanding of the value that digitalisation can bring.
One of the critical points is the evolving value proposition of digital government frameworks. While the initial messaging focused on time savings for citizens and efficient processes, there is a growing need to delve deeper into the economic impact of these initiatives.
“The absence of a comprehensive understanding of the economic drivers and benefits of digitisation can hinder investment and hinder potential progress,” John says.
To illustrate this, he uses the example of inclusion and reaching marginalised populations. While governments acknowledge the importance of inclusion, they may not fully comprehend the significance of quantifying the economic cost of exclusion. By calculating the economic implications of not including certain segments of society, governments can better comprehend the potential gains from digitalisation efforts.
“The move towards digitalisation in government services is not just about convenience; it’s about recognising and mitigating the hidden economic costs of inefficiency,” John reiterates.
He contrasted the situations in Australia and New Zealand, where lifestyle changes had motivated shifts in government approaches, with those in Southeast Asia where a return to pre-pandemic norms has prompted renewed waiting lines and bottlenecks.
He stresses the importance of data in driving change and underscores the necessity of accurate numbers to justify the allocation of resources towards digital initiatives, “In addition to the essential elements of government digitalisation, there’s a crucial aspect that cannot be overlooked – measurability.”
Without a comprehensive understanding of the benefits of digitalisation, governments risk reverting to older, less efficient models of operation. By measuring and quantifying the economic gains and losses associated with digital initiatives, governments can make informed decisions and continue progressing toward efficient and inclusive public services.
When considering the significant economic consequences of ineffective public services for citizens and the overall economy, it becomes evident that the seemingly minor tasks of waiting on hold and queuing up for government services have concealed costs that go beyond mere inconvenience.
Experts often underestimate the impact of traditional service channels like call centres and in-person visits on citizens’ time and productivity. John reinforces this viewpoint by presenting a scenario where a seemingly quick task could spiral into hours wasted. Waiting on hold, followed by explaining the issue to a community service agent and potentially dealing with more tasks afterwards, compounds the inefficiency.
In such instances, it’s crucial to assess the real economic toll of ineffective service delivery. While the immediate time spent waiting and completing tasks is significant, John highlights that the broader consequences are even more significant.
For example, someone who must physically visit a government office not only invests time in the task itself but also bears indirect expenses tied to commuting, waiting in lines, and potentially taking time off from work.
The economic impact extends beyond individual encounters, particularly in areas with traffic congestion or remote locations. In such cases, the effects are magnified, with some individuals experiencing a two or threefold increase in time-related costs. Consequently, this leads to delayed access to crucial services, impeding economic efficiency, and restraining individuals from fully contributing to society.
John notes a distressing reality: the most impacted by these inefficiencies are the vulnerable members of society – the very individuals government initiatives are meant to assist. This irony showcases the urgency of addressing this issue. The repercussions include diminished motivation, delayed access to healthcare, and reduced economic productivity for those who need support the most.
Shifting the focus to the government’s role, it becomes crucial to grasp the significant obstacles people encounter when transitioning to digital service delivery. John emphasises that the lack of comprehension and quantification of the economic toll acts as a barrier to meaningful progress. Without gauging the full scope of impacts, governments inadvertently invest resources in tackling the wrong challenges or inefficiently distributing funds.
Governments must comprehend the entirety of the cost-to-serve framework. This involves measuring the economic losses stemming from inefficient services and recognising that these losses are often disproportionately higher for marginalised groups. Equipped with this insight, governments can tailor their digital initiatives to effectively address the most pressing concerns, ultimately alleviating the burden on citizens and the economy.
Navigating the intricate landscape of digital government initiatives, John lays out fundamental criteria that delineate the success of such endeavours. These criteria shed light on the factors contributing to the formidable challenge of enhancing citizens’ satisfaction through streamlined digital services.
According to John, the bedrock of successful digital government initiatives is a citizen-centric approach. This entails crafting services around the specific tasks citizens aim to complete, rather than aligning with the government’s internal procedures. This approach prioritises user needs, enhancing the overall service experience.
Notably, he underscores the significance of mobile responsiveness. In today’s digital era, where mobile access is pervasive, services must seamlessly operate on mobile devices. This adaptability ensures accessibility to a broader audience.
Moreover, the swiftness and efficiency of platforms are paramount. Regardless of geographical location or network capabilities, services should deliver optimal speed and performance, enabling users to engage without hindrance.
Recognising the multicultural fabric of societies, John underscores the pivotal role of accessibility and readability. This is particularly crucial in diverse environments, where information must be understandable to varied audiences. These attributes collectively contribute to the triumphant execution of digital government initiatives.
John offers insights into impactful digital government initiatives that have set new standards for enhancing citizen satisfaction:
- Enhanced My Gov Programme (Australia): This initiative transformed from a distributed ecosystem into a consolidated platform offering essential life event information. Citizens can access transactions, navigate government services, and manage tasks seamlessly from their mobile devices. The transition was driven by aggregation, citizen-centric design, and a mobile-first approach.
- Services NSW (New South Wales, Australia): The success of Services NSW stems from the integration of digital and offline experiences. The initiative not only provides digital tools but also promotes digital literacy among citizens. Personalisation plays a significant role, ensuring tailored services and information for different user groups, ultimately enhancing the user experience.
- Government of Canada: With 42 government departments consolidated into one platform, Canada’s initiative simplifies citizens’ access to a wide range of government information and services. This centralised approach aids citizens in navigating major life events, while the platform’s capabilities contribute to improved user experiences.
John believes, “Effective measurement encompasses several key factors. Firstly, it involves assessing the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and regularly soliciting feedback from users to gauge the effectiveness of digital content and services.”
However, going beyond feedback, governments should conduct comprehensive testing. This includes evaluating the website’s loading speed and ensuring optimal performance even in diverse network conditions. Also, it entails testing the findability of content through search engines, enhancing user accessibility.
John acknowledges the challenges governments face in transitioning to efficient digital services. He highlighted the persistence of siloed operations within government departments and the need for comprehensive alignment around citizen needs. Additionally, he pointed out the importance of retraining the public sector to equip them with the digital skills needed to effectively serve citizens in the digital age.
John also spoke about the complex realm of data security, privacy, and establishing trust in the context of digital government services, sharing the pivotal role that data security and privacy play in building trust and ensuring citizen satisfaction within government services.
“Trust is the cornerstone and hinges on governments delivering on their commitments. It’s about doing what you say you’re going to do,” John believes. “To cultivate trust, governments must adhere to their promises, thus reinforcing their credibility.”
Transparency, he emphasised, plays a crucial role in building trust. By providing citizens with a clear understanding of the data collected and how it’s used, governments can instil confidence in their digital initiatives.
Transparency, in turn, is intrinsically linked to control. Citizens should have a level of control over the data they share and how it’s utilised. This extends to advanced uses of artificial intelligence (AI), where governments may leverage data to provide personalised recommendations. By granting citizens the ability to influence their data usage, governments can build a framework that respects individual preferences and fosters trust.
Navigating trust, data security, and privacy becomes more intricate in areas like healthcare and unemployment management. John highlighted the necessity of safeguarding sensitive information related to health and employment status. Governments must ensure that citizens’ health data is secure and that unemployment information is handled with the utmost discretion.
John is convinced of the role of digital identity in building trust. A comprehensive digital identity framework not only provides secure access but also enables citizens to manage their preferences. The ability to personalise data usage adds an extra layer of trust by giving citizens a stake in their digital experiences.
Implementing digital transformation within government often encounters significant resistance to change, driven by various factors including concerns over data security and privacy, unfamiliarity with new processes, and a general reluctance to embrace change. John explored the challenges posed by resistance to change and the strategies that can effectively address them.
Resistance to change is a formidable challenge, stemming from inherent human aversion to change. He lays bare the multifaceted nature of the issue, including data privacy and security concerns that may hinder the implementation of personalised experiences. The balancing act between delivering personalised services and maintaining data security becomes a delicate process, often accompanied by fears of data breaches and compromised privacy.
John further highlighted the importance of considering dynamic consent and transparency. Citizens’ preferences and willingness to share data may fluctuate over time, necessitating an adaptable approach to data usage. Governments must ensure that citizens have the tools to modify their data-sharing preferences and remain informed about the evolving landscape of data privacy and usage.
Addressing resistance to change requires a comprehensive digital identity framework that facilitates secure access, personalised experiences, and granular control over data sharing. John underscored the significance of a connected ecosystem, where data from various government departments can be seamlessly integrated to support citizen journeys. Such an ecosystem not only aids in providing better services but also ensures compliance with evolving privacy and governance regulations.
When it comes to spearheading digital transformation to enhance citizen satisfaction, John offered actionable advice rooted in practicality. He recommended that government leaders focus on specific pain points and journeys that citizens encounter. Rather than attempting to overhaul the entire system in one go, tackling challenges one at a time is a more manageable and effective approach.
Technology, such as Adobe’s solutions, plays a pivotal role in simplifying the transformation process. By addressing the technology challenges for one journey or life event, governments can subsequently apply the same solutions to multiple scenarios. The efficiency gained from this approach eliminates the need to recreate systems repeatedly and enables a scalable transformation process across multiple use cases.
The emergence of Generative AI and the rise of conversational AI models like ChatGPT have the potential to reshape how citizens interact with government content and services. While there are significant benefits to leveraging these technologies, there are also challenges that need to be addressed, particularly in the context of a distributed content ecosystem and language diversity. John shed light on these challenges and their implications in a conversation with OpenGov Asia.
Generative AI has the power to enhance citizen engagement and inclusion by providing personalised experiences and enabling natural language interactions. For example, citizens can ask questions using their own words and receive relevant information in return. This is particularly advantageous for reaching diverse groups of citizens, including those with lower literacy levels and varying language preferences.
However, the challenges arise from the decentralised nature of the content ecosystem. Government content is often distributed across various departments and agencies, resulting in fragmented and conflicting information. This poses a risk that users may receive incorrect or outdated information when interacting with AI models.
In the context of Southeast Asia, where multiple languages and dialects are prevalent, the challenges of language diversity are amplified. While English content might be well-optimised for search engines and AI models, content in local languages might not receive the same level of visibility due to lower SEO rankings. Additionally, content in local languages might not have been created with the same digital user experience in mind, leading to potential mismatches between user queries and available content.
Addressing these challenges requires collaboration among government agencies to create unified and authoritative content. Governments need to ensure that content is accurate, up-to-date, and accessible across multiple languages. This involves not only adapting existing content to be conversational but also creating content specifically designed for AI interactions.
Adobe’s role in this landscape is significant. With its technology solutions, Adobe can help governments manage and optimise their content for AI interactions. By creating content that is not only language-appropriate but also aligned with the needs of AI models, governments can enhance the accuracy and relevance of AI-generated responses.
Adobe’s capabilities in managing digital experiences, personalisation, and content optimisation can be leveraged to improve citizen engagement through AI-powered interactions.
Interestingly personalisation is a term that often stirs debate in government circles. However, when stripped down to its essence, it revolves around simplicity and efficiency.
Unlike other platforms, like media and entertainment, where the goal is to keep users engaged for longer periods, a successful government experience is one where citizens can swiftly access what they need and then move on with their lives.
“In essence, personalisation in government is about giving citizens back valuable time in their day, allowing them to focus on their families, jobs, and contributing to the economy,” John points out.
Looking ahead to the next two to three years, John shared his insights on the trends and innovations that are likely to have a substantial impact on citizens’ satisfaction and government service delivery:
- Integration of AI into Everyday Tools: The integration of AI and Generative AI capabilities into everyday tools and technologies will change the way people interact with information. This will go beyond specialised AI platforms and become a part of common tools like search engines and productivity suites. This shift will drive governments to rethink their communication strategies and adapt to new interfaces for delivering information and services.
- Transformation of Government Communication: The transformation in how people access and consume information will lead to a reevaluation of government communication strategies. As the way citizens interact with content evolves, governments will need to reconsider the sprawling landscape of government websites and find new ways to communicate effectively with citizens. This transformation could result in a more streamlined and targeted approach to content delivery.
- Personalised Government Services: The continued push towards personalised government service delivery will remain a prominent trend. AI technologies will enable governments to tailor information and services to individual citizens’ needs, improving user experiences and satisfaction. This trend will likely contribute to more efficient and effective government interactions.
- Increased Connectivity and Collaboration: The evolving digital landscape will drive governments to become more connected and collaborative. As citizens become accustomed to seamless interactions in their daily lives, governments will need to work across departments to offer integrated and holistic services. This may involve breaking down silos and creating a unified approach to serving citizens.
- Shift Toward Accessibility and Inclusion: The increased use of AI and conversational AI models presents an opportunity for governments to enhance accessibility and inclusion. By offering information and services in multiple languages and accommodating diverse user needs, governments can ensure that their services are available to all citizens.
- Ethical Considerations and Bias Mitigation: As AI becomes more integrated into government processes, addressing ethical considerations and mitigating bias will become crucial. Governments and technology providers will need to work together to ensure that AI-generated information is accurate, unbiased, and culturally sensitive, particularly in diverse regions like Asia.
In the short term, the world is likely to witness significant shifts in how citizens interact with government information and services. The integration of AI, particularly Generative AI, into everyday tools will redefine the user experience and prompt governments to reevaluate their communication strategies.
Personalised services, increased connectivity, and a focus on accessibility and inclusion will all contribute to a more efficient and citizen-centric government service delivery. However, as these technologies advance, ethical considerations and bias mitigation will play a pivotal role in ensuring the accuracy, fairness, and cultural sensitivity of AI-generated content and responses.
In the fast-evolving landscape of digital transformation and the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI), governments around the world are faced with a critical juncture. The integration of advanced technologies, particularly AI-driven solutions like Generative AI (Gen AI), presents opportunities to enhance citizen services and satisfaction, but also raises complex challenges that demand careful consideration.
As governments seek to leverage AI and Gen AI to meet the evolving needs of citizens, a pivotal moment is emerging. The potential benefits are significant: improved service delivery, personalised interactions, and streamlined processes that boost citizens’ satisfaction. However, a challenging paradox has emerged. The very tools designed to enhance citizen experiences are met with resistance and apprehension in some government circles.
One of the most pressing challenges governments face is the varying speeds of adoption. While Generative AI offers a promising avenue for better service delivery, some government entities have hesitated to fully embrace the technology. In certain cases, there are instances of outright bans or restrictions on its use. Paradoxically, within these same government bodies, public servants are engaging with Gen AI tools in their personal lives, underscoring the disconnect between policy and practice.
The diverse cultural and linguistic landscape in different regions poses another layer of complexity. Language nuances and cultural sensitivities must be taken into account when designing AI systems. Failure to do so can lead to inaccurate or inappropriate information dissemination. In a world where AI-generated responses become the norm, these cultural nuances become all the more critical, particularly in Asian regions with vast cultural diversity.
In the quest for digital innovation, governments must walk a fine line between embracing new technologies and ensuring that inclusivity is not compromised. Rushing to adopt complex platforms without considering the digital literacy of citizens can lead to the exclusion of certain age groups, notably those less tech-savvy or familiar with navigating digital interfaces.
While the term “digital literacy” is often used to emphasise upskilling citizens, it is essential to avoid creating overly complex systems and necessitate assistance from younger generations. Striving for inclusivity means ensuring that advancements benefit all citizens, regardless of age or digital proficiency.
The urgency to adapt and adopt Gen AI and other transformative technologies requires governments to reevaluate their strategies. A balance must be struck between fostering innovation and catering to the diverse needs of the population. Collaborative efforts between governments, technology providers like Adobe, and citizens are necessary to ensure that digital transformation is carried out with the citizen experience and satisfaction at its core.
In the Asian region, which boasts intricate cultural and linguistic diversity, a distinct challenge emerges in the era of Gen AI. Here, leapfrogging, not playing catch-up should be the strategy, John says. Rather than emulating strategies employed by technologically advanced nations, an opportunity exists to skip certain stages and tailor strategies to align with regional contexts.
This is particularly pertinent for nations with nascent digital infrastructure, enabling them to embrace advanced Gen AI capabilities more expeditiously.
As governments prioritise efficiency and optimisation in the public sector, understanding the economic impact of digitalisation is crucial. Accurate measurement of benefits ensures meaningful results from investments, driving positive change in citizens’ satisfaction and societal progress. Inefficient public services carry hidden costs that range from lost productivity to delayed access to vital services, underscoring the need for quantitative assessment.
Beyond a doubt, government initiatives play a vital role in enhancing citizen experiences through efficient digital services. However, addressing these challenges will enable governments to assist vulnerable populations while fostering productivity and efficiency.
A roadmap for success would encompass citizen-centricity, mobile responsiveness, accessibility, and the integration of digital and offline experiences. By studying these successful initiatives and addressing challenges head-on, governments can create a digital landscape that truly serves and satisfies their citizens.
Overcoming resistance to change is a critical step in realising successful digital transformation within government services. By acknowledging concerns, embracing dynamic consent, and leveraging technology to simplify the process, government leaders can navigate the path toward enhanced citizen satisfaction, personalised experiences, and an ecosystem that prioritises data security and privacy.