This is Part I of a two-part series. Read Part II here.
Technology today is shaping every aspect of how the world works, communicates and lives. Entering into the new norm, a new digital society is emerging, connecting everyone and everything like never before. Digitalisation and technology adoption has been increasing at a steady rate over the last few years, and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the rate of adoption.
Tech-driven innovation and disruptive technologies have been integral parts of the crisis response and mitigation efforts. The private and public sector as well as citizens now rely on digital channels to provide and access goods, services, information and entertainment.
In this increasingly VUCA world, everyone is ramping up their digital transformation efforts to better serve citizens and clients. Governments and organisations across the globe continue to find innovative and effective ways to adapt to the new normal and the post-COVID-19 environment. This was the focal point of discussions during the Philippine OpenGov Leadership Forum 2021 – Virtual Edition Day 1 that brought the key decision-makers and influencers together for a strategic level discussion on the issues that matter the most.
Convening the brightest digital minds for a strategic level discussion on the issues that matter the most, the Philippine OpenGov Leadership Forum offered a unique way of tackling challenges in its first virtual edition. Intentionally planned, every activity and facet of the event was designed to let delegates garner exclusive insights from the digital leaders as well as demonstrate their thought-leadership.
As always, the forum provided intimate interaction between key ICT leaders from the Public Sector and the Financial Services Industry who influence and determine digital strategies across agencies and organisations.
Apart from informative presentations from renowned speakers, this year’s forum continued its award-winning OpenGov Gamification Table (OGT) format in the new OpenGov Gamification Virtual Rooms (OGVRs). Every OpenGov Gamification Virtual Room was a virtual heuristic exercise allowing delegates to learn from varying decision-making scenarios just as they would in the physical world.
Cultural Shifts amid the Pandemic
To kickstart the session, Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia delivered opening remarks.
Well before the pandemic, there was consensus on the benefits of remote models – working from anywhere, anytime. The discussion was vigorous on how to bring this about effectively and securely but ultimately, it did not happen in any significant way. Then, at the end of 2019 came a 500-mile tailwind so devastating that it forced the world to pause. The virus respected no border, industry or community – ravaging all with equal ferocity.
The public and the private sectors worked independently and together to fight the pandemic, coming up with a slew of ad-hoc solutions. Digital initiatives and tech platforms were launched across sectors and industries. However, the demand on the public sector shot up dramatically as citizens, forced to stay at home, looking to the government for necessities to survive. Compounding the situation was the need to urgently manage the sick, the vulnerable and the inaccessible population.
In the early stages, people were excited at the opportunity to work from home, a cultural shift that had been in the offing for a while. Interestingly though, the step was considered a “pivot” – with the connotation of reaction rather than strategic, or some may call “band-aid technologies”. People and organisations were said to be “pivoting” to manage and mitigate the issues the pandemic brought.
Beyond a doubt, both sectors did their jobs in terms of providing relevant programmes and initiatives throughout the age of COVID-19. But the question remains, were those initiatives innovative and intentional? Was enough done with the available tech? Additionally, as the initial euphoria of remote working wears thin, people, once happy about the shift, realise that the new normal disrupts their work-life balance and their well-being.
The good brings with it the bad, the unsafe and the difficult. Deployment, in normal circumstances, of technology like AI, Cloud and Data Analytics are accompanied by cybersecurity challenges. In the pandemic where almost everything has moved online, cybercrime has increased astronomically.
Knowing this, Mohit challenged the delegates, if you put digital transformation at the heart of your plan, is everything going to be magically in place? Or do we need to look beyond the adoption of technologies to the comprehensive integration of technology, processes, and people?
Organisations and institutions must find the right balance in their digital transformation journey using technology. They must also find leadership to achieve the ultimate end goal of a complete digital transformation in the new normal.
In closing, Mohit emphasised the need for agencies and organisations to find the right partner in this digital journey. Not just from the tech sector, but also the government, banking and FSI, to ensure that everyone is on the right path to an ideal digital transformation.
The PhilSys: A Foundational Identity Platform for an Inclusive and Resilient Digital Philippines
After Mohit’s opening remarks, the forum heard from Denis F. Villorente, Undersecretary for the National Information & Communications Technology Assets Index, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
Denis acknowledged that digital transformation was already happening before the pandemic – COVID-19 accelerated it. There were many initiatives in place or the pipeline.
Denis spoke about the potential of a robust national ID system that could facilitate multiple types of transactions necessary for digital ecosystems and societies, saving people, government and businesses time and money and unlock new drivers of economic value and growth.
Exploring the rationale of the Philippines’ national ID system, he conceded that there was a need for a foundational ID system. The over 25 functional ID systems do not offer digital authentication services to third parties and highly dependent on paper-based and manual processes. This has led to high costs and fraud in service delivery and prevents the shift to online services.
In terms of public services, the current identification landscape in the Philippines has not just created exclusion but also exacerbated inequality. Citizens often need to provide two or more matching physical documents which is a barrier for many to access services. About 1 in 5 of the poorest (40% ) Filipinos have been unable to apply for government services because they lacked the required IDs. Similarly, 1 in 6 of this group have been unable to receive government financial support because they lacked the required IDs.
Knowing this, the need for a foundational ID was glaringly obvious. Therefore, Republic Act No. 11055 or the Philippine Identification Act was signed into law. The law establishes a single national identification system that aims to provide valid proof of identity for Filipino citizens and resident aliens of the Philippines. The Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) is the government’s central identification platform.
The PhilSys has two functions. One is the PhilSys Number (PSN) that creates a unique digital identity for all Filipinos and resident aliens via the PSN. The other is to provide reliable authentication of that identity for secure digital transactions.
PhilSys is designed as an enabling platform that unlocks new services and systems for the digital economy, especially online transactions. It underpins sectoral IDs and databases to enhance accuracy, interoperability and integrity. The system boosts the digital transformation of existing services and systems reducing cost, time and fraud.
The PhilSys-enabled services will allow governments and businesses to use technology to change how they do business, shifting to transactions that are paperless, automated, and online.
In terms of security, as a permanent and irrevocable unique identifier, the PSN is very sensitive. If it is collected and widely used in its raw format, greater risk of it being leaked or stolen, with consequences for security and privacy. To mitigate these risks and learning from the experience of other countries, the PhilSys is adopting tokenisation as a strategy to protect the PSN from misuse while maintaining the same functionalities. Tokenisation involves the generation of PSN tokens with the power of the user that obfuscate or mask the PSN and serve the same function as the PSN.
The PhilSys aims to provide efficient and reliable authentication services by having the PSN microprinted on a PhilID card to allow holders to retrieve the number when needed. The number is used to facilitate authentication and the relationship is like that of an ATM card and bank account numbers.
A PhilSys mobile app develops an “Alyas” PSN that can be generated by the user via the app. This is like virtual credit card numbers. Data is stored in databases that generate back-end tokens unique to each relying party and can be mapped to others.
Designed with privacy in mind, access to personal data in the ID system is strictly limited by the Data Privacy Act and the PhilSys Act. The country’s National Privacy Commission (NPC) also supervises its compliance. Privacy best practices are embedded in its technical architecture, such as data minimisation and proportionality, tokenisation, and encryption. The system will also adopt security measures per the ISO 27000-family standards.
To end his presentation, Denis said that by the end of 2021, up to 70 million Filipinos will have been registered to PhilSys and been issued their PSN and PhilIDs. He emphasised that the PhilSys present opportunities for service providers to simplify, secure, and reduce the cost-of-service delivery to citizens/clients. Government CIOs have a critical role to play in ensuring the preparedness and readiness of their agencies in unlocking the opportunities and value of the system.
From Artificial to Real: AI Stories in the Fight Against COVID-19
The forum moved to a presentation from Dr Steve Bennett, Director, Public Sector & Financial Services Practice, SAS. He discussed how Artificial Intelligence (AI) helped during the pandemic.
Governments initially adopted operations research, Steve explained, as a scientific method of providing executive departments with a quantitative basis for decisions regarding the operations under their control. It then evolved to AI that could provide better decisions by training systems to emulate specific human tasks through learning and automation. Technology then transformed from artificial to real in the battle against COVID-19.
First, AI and data analytics helped governments in their responses against the pandemic by Epidemiological Modelling and Medical Resource Optimisation. Governments used data analytics to flatten the infection curve while preserving limited resources crucial in the COVID-19 era. AI and data analytics also assisted governments regarding contact tracing efforts by connecting and understanding data available to help mitigate the spread of the virus. Utilising these technologies can also make outbreak predictions by knowing the areas where large communities are residing and are vulnerable to possible contagion. Governments can utilise machine learning and AI to help them make predictions and anticipate future outbreaks.
Second, AI and data analytics aided governments in the recovery phase, more specifically in delivering citizen benefits. Citing the example of the United Kingdom, Steven said the British government offered a range of benefits to people in need. like other governments, the nation, too, wanted to make sure that benefits were delivered to the right people. AI and data analytics were successfully deployed to quickly score and validate the right beneficiaries that all those resources went to.
Steve agreed that the re-imagining of government, including digital transformation, is happening all over the world and was accelerated by COVID-19. At the core of this, AI and data analytics are helping governments to determine what it means to focus on services for their citizens.
In terms of citizen centricity, Steve gave the example of a large city in Denmark. The city wants to get people back to work in 13 weeks or less if they lose their job. This vision is tailor-made for machine learning and AI to optimally match the mix of programmes to the right citizens. Knowing the background of people and by having AI/ML map appropriate programmes, the government has seen great results in terms of getting people back to work.
AI and data analytics has helped governments when it comes to producing tailored citizen services and benefits optimisation. For example, the New Zealand government noticed that people who entered the benefits programme were children or under the age of 18. They wanted to know how they could change the trajectory of children and families in New Zealand.
So, they started to use data analytics technology that the retail industry has been using for years, where companies gather and understand data that can help them identify what products are most fitted for their customers. Adopting this logic and technology to the public sector, helped them offer the best tailor-made services for their citizens, saving the government a lot of resources.
Confident that these examples about AI and data analytics would inspire delegates, Steve closed by emphasising that these technologies are not just theoretical. They can make and have made a practical difference in the lives of citizens and in government missions.
The next on the programme was a Power Talk where Mohit joined panellists Agnes Perpetua R. Legaspi, Assistant Director Export Marketing Bureau, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Henry R. Aguda, Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Technology & Operations Officer & Chief Transformation Officer, UnionBank of the Philippines, Brigadier Kuldip Singh (retired), Sr Consultant/Specialist, National Disaster Management Authority, and Sean Audain, City Innovation Lead, Wellington City Council.
On the agenda to discuss was public services in the new normal and what does the word “Reboot” mean. Open to debate was the kind of transformation the panellists were expecting to see and how did they think technology would support the reshaping of the world with lessons learned from COVID-19.
Agnes said that the new normal means not going back to the old norm. The working environment will continue to be hybrid; using a lot of ICT, incorporating shared value creation in governments and organisations will equate to better business processes and client services. Agnes conceded that there will always be a need to evolve and adapt to change and embrace new technologies. AI and predictive analytics, she felt, will play a vital role in the post-COVID 19 environment.
There was already a global trend of remote working, Kuldip acknowledged; COVID-19 magnified and accelerated this trend. Humans are averse to change and are creatures of habit so it is up to leaders to continue and improve this trend going forward. Along with the evolution of technologies and practices, there is a huge concern about the associated risks that are evolving alongside. For example, from robberies using guns, it has evolved to laptops and the internet. Knowing this, society needs to be more careful going forward.
Henry agreed with Agnes and Kuldip that practices during the new norm are here to stay. From a financial sector perspective, the industry can adopt a banking work from anywhere approach because banks follow their customers. If it is a work-from-home setup, they will introduce banking-from-home. The banking sector will adjust to the current norm. However, he cautioned that this transition needs to be secure enough to mitigate possible risks and threats associated with this change.
Sean said the good thing about the new normal is that it allows new things to occur. A huge proponent of biodiversity, one of the most promising things, he noted, is the decoupling of our economic growth from carbon. The world managed to do it during the COVID-19 era supported by disruptive technologies. Sean hopes that the speed of change complements these purposes.
IoT – The Smart City Technology
After the engaging Power Talk section, the forum heard from David Graham, Chief Innovation Officer, City of Carlsbad on how the Internet of Things boosted smart city technology in the city of Carlsbad.
The concept of smart cities has been around for a long time, David agreed and the pandemic further magnified the ideas around it. Governments found work virtually, deliver citizen services via tech and deploy a slew of online tools. Countries also saw drastic adjustments needed to address climate change and similar issues. All in all, the pandemic accelerated and promoted change.
With innovation ramping up during the crisis, it impacted residents, visitors, business and governments. There was a need for rapid adaptation of new technologies to get work done as the way work got done changed. New ways to engage with the public were discovered that can move from temporary to long-term. Insights that contribute to continuous improvement and advanced data-driven decision making have been obtained. To summarise, innovation principles to get the job done were learned.
There were several ways the city of Carlsbad adapted to the new normal. First is they adopted a new city app, Carlsbad Connects, an easy way for citizens to report things that attention around town – like potholes, sidewalk cracks, traffic light outages, graffiti or code enforcement issues.
The city replaced landlines with Voiceover IP increasing capabilities and flexibility. They conducted virtual inspections and upgraded cybersecurity. A Business Centre for online payments was established.
The city council continued its analysis of the effects of the pandemic by issuing an updated survey of Carlsbad businesses during COVID-19, data collection and analysis of changing business needs and financial assistance that needs re-assessment. The council provided rapid lifelines to local businesses like a COVID-19 restaurant map that connects residents with safe dining locations, information on food delivery/takeout options, that are accessible on a phone, tablet or computer.
They had initiatives to address COVID-19 hot spots which cater to the calls for services related to 19 health order violations, identification of focus areas for increased outreach or education, and track and monitor changes in patterns in districts.
Some of Carlsbad’s city-wide initiatives include operations and performance monitoring, community risk reduction, pre-planning, after-action mission analysis, hazard reduction, predictive analytics and proactive interdiction.
The city adopted a Drone Programme for city-wide operations that could highlight possible emergencies within the community beyond the physical line of sight. It also uses these drones for package and service deliveries.
David believes that strategic digital transformation must include an equally strategic digital transformation investment programme. Governments should approach investment in digital infrastructure the same way they see investments in physical infrastructures. A capital improvement strategy for technology and digital should be a five-year plan with project descriptions, timelines, cost and funding sources.
Governments must make consistent investments crucial to adapting to emergencies and crises, David concluded. They must evaluate residents, businesses, visitors and staff experiences to reduce friction on future continuous improvement efforts. Leaders must let the crucible of crisis accelerate change management while making temporary responses a long-term improvement. People must not focus on the phrase “back to normal” but must instead create a “better normal” to achieve that future.
Increase Your Agility with Multi-Cloud Flexibility
The forum welcomed Ryan Tassotti, Enterprise Architect and Principal Engineer, Dell Technologies to share how governments and organisations can utilise the flexibility of a multi-cloud system to increase their agility.
Ryan defines the cloud as an on-demand self-service that has broad network access, resource pooling capability, rapid elasticity and can measure services. The cloud has four deployment models – private cloud, community cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud. The Top 3 objectives driving cloud spending for Asia Pacific’s customers are New technology, Digital Transformation and Cloud-First Strategy.
Ryan explained that the Philippine Cloud Policy is up to date in terms of digital innovations and services, aiming to improve citizen’s experience with the government. It is data-centric and classification level is important. He was firm in his opinion that no Philippine government created data should be subject to foreign laws, regardless of the cloud deployment model.
The fact is, Ryan noted, that the pandemic ushered the world into a new era. The new normal brings new demands and the cloud is set to provide solutions to these new necessities. The world has made a paradigm shift and digital transformation must accelerate with it. Close to three-quarters (74%) of all organisations are investing in on-demand digital services, two-thirds (65%) of global GDP will be from digital by 2022 and on-demand models by 2023 will be 15%, up from less than 1% in 2019.
A recent survey of 900 IT leaders across verticals and regions found that 96% of organisations have an executive mandate to leverage cloud technologies. While 89% plan to deploy private cloud infrastructure in the next 12 months, 76% of organisations will leverage multiple clouds environments over the next two years.
Utilising a multi-cloud strategy caters to different workloads. Some organisations value performance, some prioritise data services, while some look at costs and data sovereignty. While hybrid-cloud seems to be the way forward, a hybrid-cloud platform must bring stability. It must stabilise workloads, apps, and data spread across multiple clouds – all in all, a consistent cloud experience for everything.
Ryan advised organisations to find partners in cloud adoption. “There are experts who can help you migrate without pain – why do it alone?”
Cloud adopters must ensure that the platform is consistent throughout. They must avoid hiccups throughout an application’s lifecycle with platforms that extend seamlessly, End-users do not want to be surprised by a new management interface so they must be informed.
Ryan and his team in Dell Technologies promote consistency. They facilitate consulting services, deployment services that accelerate technology adoption, managed services realising digital transformation value for client systems, storage, backup, and converged infrastructure, and education services that develop and retain valuable IT talent through continuous learning.
Ryan is firmly convinced that the future is hybrid, the future is multi-cloud, and the Philippine Cloud Policy embraces these advancements.
New Zealand’s Integrated Data Infrastructure – Strategies, Implementation, Successes, Challenges and Road Ahead
Next, delegates heard a presentation from Chris Buxton, Chief Digital Officer, Statistics New Zealand on the strategies and challenges behind the implementation of New Zealand’s integrated data infrastructure.
Chris shared that New Zealand’s integrated data infrastructure has two parts. One is the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI), an integrated database containing de-identified longitudinal microdata about people and households. The other is the Longitudinal Business Database (LBD), an integrated database containing de-identified longitudinal microdata about businesses. Linking these datasets together is called the Spine, created by linking births, tax, and visa data together, other sources (aka nodes) are linked with the spine.
The flow of data in the IDI and LBD is by collecting data from all sources, processing and linking the data, and identifying data available for research. The data is kept safe within a ‘five safes’ framework to ensure that access to the IDI and LBD is only provided if all the following conditions can be met:
- safe people (background checks on citizens)
- safe projects (inspections on infrastructures)
- safe settings (adept data storage systems)
- safe data (anonymising the data)
- safe output (nobody can take out data from the system)
Researchers from government agencies, universities, the private sector use the information derived from these data to study studying issues like child vulnerability, education and employment outcomes, the impact of health conditions and business productivity.
Researchers use anonymous data from IDI and present it in a comprehensible way, allowing users to visualise integrated government data at a detailed geographical level. The information also influences employment pathways and outcomes by letting researchers know how the workforce is changing over time.
However, while there are benefits, there are also limitations. Researchers can tackle previously ‘unanswerable’ questions via longitudinal view, cross-sector view, and geographical views all while reducing research cost and burden. But various administrative data quality issues are also present and these processes demand high time and skill investments.
Chris also shed light on the new Datahub. The hub is a centralised data management platform that stores, verifies and analyses data. Based on the Cloudera technology stack, it feeds data into new and existing statistical and analytic systems such as the R and Python programming languages and tools such as SAS and Microsoft’s Power BI. Errors in data are detected early through automated validation and checking systems that also extract relevant metadata and prepare the data for use. With no restrictions on how data is formatted, the Datahub provides increased flexibility around how data is stored and used.
Chris shared lessons and enabling factors from the implementation of the IDI and LBD. They found the “If you build it, they will come” phrase to be true. He explained that when leaders decide to build a system dedicated to data, then the information needed from that data will come. He also added that data providers are generally willing to make their data available. However, they found that technical skills are a barrier to extracting true value from data. For systems to succeed, there must a be social licence, informed trust and flexibility is key.
At the end of his presentation, Chris advised governments and organisations to improve their infrastructures, improve access to these services, make legislation reviews, and create international access to create improved awareness.
Blazing the Trail in AI Talent Development
Koo Seng Meng, Senior Deputy Director – AI Innovation, AI Singapore was next to discuss how AI Singapore blazed the trail in AI talent and literacy development in Singapore.
Seng Meng started by confirming that AI Singapore’s National programme intends to educate all nationalities, not just Singaporeans, on AI and to harness the scientific and economic potentials of AI for Singapore. They work closely with the government’s lead ministries and economic agencies as well as the private sector’s research institutions and enterprises to build local AI talents.
By staying true to their mission called “Grow our own timber”, Seng Meng said that Singapore must develop their people to meet the national demands on AI. For example, at a primary level, AI Singapore launched AI for Kids (AI4K). On the secondary level, they let schools adopt AI for Everyone (AI4E) as an AI foundation baseline. There is also AI for Students (AI4S) dedicated to young learners. In an industry setup, there is AI for Industry (AI4I) where universities use the course with academic credits, pushing them to an AI Apprenticeship Programme (AIAP).
AI Singapore have done these talent programmes for 3 years, but the question is, is it enough?
Seng Meng believes that there should e an increase in the supply of AI Engineers, not students to go into the workforce. The nation must grow an AI–literate population to grow an Ai-trained workforce to increase the number of AI capable individuals.
This can be achieved by understanding AI basics presented in AI for Everyone, AI for Students, and AI for Kids. AI skills can grow with AI for Industry and co-developed AI curriculum with schools and institutes of higher learning. By growing the AI-capable workforce, the country gets a chance to work on real-world AI such as the AIAP.
AI Singapore and the AI Professionals Association (AIP) have set a competency standard and career pathway for AI learners and aspirants. They also qualify AI Engineer talents that industries need, and through this partnership, they create a national registry of qualified AI engineers for national policymakers.
The AIP is the foremost professional society for practitioners, organisations, and students in AI. The association also started the Chartered AI Engineer profession. They intend to help companies and countries by giving them a national standard for professionally qualified AI engineering talents.
The Chartered AI Engineer profession is broken down into three categories. First is the Associate AI Engineer; they are students or working professionals who have the necessary skills & knowledge to start working on an AI Project. They are not required to display the relevance of their technical skills to business. Rather they are deemed to be proficient in the required technical skills to start working for a business organisation that has some data capabilities.
The second one is the Chartered AI Engineer Level 1; working professionals who have the necessary technical skills to develop AI solutions. They can draw a relationship between an AI project and its relevance to business and design the solution to meet the deliverables, and lastly is the Chartered AI Engineer Level 2; they are working professionals who are team leads for AI engineers. They align project outcomes to fit into the business process and able to set up the appropriate process to monitor the effectiveness of the AI models put into production. They also lead or involve in the final solution architecture to ensure successful deployment that delivers business value.
To end, Seng Meng advised governments and organisations to have an AI Readiness Index (AIRI), that tackles an organisation’s readiness with AI talent, literacy, governance and management support, as well as data readiness that ensures the quality of data, and infrastructure readiness with a data warehouse and computing resources.
The Democratisation of Data & Insights
Taking over the session was Kate Carruthers, Chief Data and Insights Officer, University of New South Wales who spoke on how the democratisation of data can help governments and organisations in their digital transformation journeys.
Data democratisation is the process of transforming data into information and making the information accessible organisation-wide. Data, and the universal access to it, is the key to fully transform organisations, Kate opines. Democratised data will create new opportunities and unlock the value embedded within organisations.
A study says that most organisations are not data-driven and will not be anytime soon. The business adoption of Big Data and AI initiatives must be viewed through a long-term lens – as a process and a journey. Only 31.0% of companies say they are data-driven. The research says that the world is headed in the wrong direction as this number has declined from 37.1% in 2017 and 32.4% in 2018.
Firms need to adopt a long-term approach, focusing on the complex cultural challenges as a starting point. Beyond a doubt, complexity is a defining feature of the digital era but governance structures to manage are not being adjusted accordingly.
Kate proposed several key pillars for data: data governance, data security (including cybersecurity, information security), data platforms and data culture.
Data Governance (DataGov) underpins everything ad is defined as the organisation and implementation of policies, procedures, structure, roles, and responsibilities which outline and enforce rules of engagement, decision rights and accountabilities for the effective management of information assets. It helps by identifying data at risk, locating sensitive data, ensuring that sensitive data is stored and managed properly, identifying sensitive data users, and ensuring consistent data access processes and safer access to sensitive data.
DataGov, privacy, risk, ethics and IT must all be aligned regarding information literacy. This will include uniformity in policies and standards, establishing decision rights, information quality, stewardship, privacy, compliance, security, assess risk and define controls as well as architecture, integration, and consistent data definitions.
There are five essential aspects to data management:
- cyber and information security
- risk management
- data and information governance
A good data strategy must be focused on people, technologies and processes. It is critical to understand how data generates value. This does not mean merely financial value; it means value to people and insights that are not otherwise available. Organisations should also know what their critical data assets are with data– and system– classification. Finally, an organisation must know its data ecosystem.
The principles of a successful data strategy include knowing how data generates value, knowing critical data assets and data ecosystems, and ways on how to govern the said data. Data ecosystems must have data capabilities that are about people who create and manage usable, high-quality enterprise information assets.
Capabilities should include tools, data, and processes for management reporting and advanced analytics, as well as action capabilities that automate the provision of data and enable business intelligence and insights to be delivered.
A good data management model must include security architecture, an automated user management system and data pipelines, regular penetration testing, and agile DevOps. Kate said that the democratisation of data also helps in the introduction of self-help dashboards for the following areas:
- Student Admissions & Recruitment
- Student Load Reporting
- Faculty Student Reporting
- Academic Administration
- HR & Recruitment
To end her presentation, Kate said that we must methodically focus on delivering value to people by doing something better today than yesterday. Agility and developmental operations matter and data democratisation is a team sport. Data needs a platform armed with data governance that is aligned with the issues on risk, ethics, privacy, and IT to work collaboratively.
In conclusion, she said, data is a journey, not a destination.
Read Part II of The Philippine OpenGov Leadership Forum Virtual Edition: “Embracing Digitalisation to Navigate the New Normal”.
The Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) pledged to continue collaborating to enhance agricultural research in the Philippines and the region.
In a statement, DOST-PCAARRD said it and ACIAR will continue to collaborate and explore new approaches to deliver agricultural research for development in the Philippines and the region for many years to come. The combined activities will help the Philippine government’s broader push to strengthen local scientific and technological leadership and competence in the agriculture, aquatic, and natural resources (AANR) sector.
Executive Director of the DOST-PCAARRD, greeted the Australian Deputy Ambassador and other embassy delegates, including an ACIAR representative. He said in his welcome note, “we are always honoured whenever the Embassy visits us because it shows how Australia values its partners; we, likewise, value such sentiment by continuously striving to conduct innovative research benefiting both countries.”
He stated that the Philippines and Australia’s bilateral relationship has been built on similar interests and principles, as well as strong people-to-people ties, over the years.
Furthermore, the Australian Deputy Ambassador expressed his admiration for the expanding collaboration between the ACIAR and the PCAARRD, while also expressing an interest in learning more about the DOST Council as an organisation. During his tenure, he reaffirmed his desire to continue to enhance bilateral ties between Australia and the Philippines.
In addition, the United States joined the Philippines in recognising the opening of the Crop Biotechnology Centre, which is housed in the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija. The facility was supported with a P277 million grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s Public Law 480 programme, which aims to help developing countries handle food security challenges.
It is said that the facility’s launch will improve the country’s agricultural biotechnology research and development initiatives. Acting Agricultural Counsellor, on behalf of US Embassy in the Philippines, said, “this cutting-edge centre will be the hub for Philippine research and development on critical areas in agricultural biotechnology” and its “top-notch equipment, from genome sequencers and genotyping equipment to high-throughput DNA extractors, will provide [Filipino] scientists with the tools they need to get the job done.”
OpenGov Asia in an article reported that according to the DOST Secretary, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has allocated over PHP208 million for the six virtual niche centres. In response to the government-led efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, we are establishing six new R&D centres in agriculture, livestock, and natural resources. These R&D centres will “open facilities, devise new strategies, and ramp up initiatives and efforts toward food resiliency in the new normal.
The DOST’s Niche Centres in the Regions for R&D (NICER) programme allows higher education institutions (HEIs) to significantly improve regional research by integrating development needs with existing R&D capabilities and resources.
The DOST provides institutional grants to HEIs in the regions through NICER for them to conduct high-quality research that will catalyse and promote regional development and industrial competitiveness.
Ultimately, the industry is working to enhance the country’s semiconductor and electronics manufacturing index by identifying customer needs, understanding suppliers’ baselines, developing relevant capabilities, matching industry supply and demand, and conducting periodic performance assessments. Furthermore, the industry suggests that the government maintain its scholarship programme for operators and technicians, improve the country’s business environment, conduct R&D capability development, and aggressively promote local industries and SMEs through investment missions abroad.
We are all familiar with the iconic black and white square design of a QR code today. The steadily increasing penetration of smartphones and access to high-speed internet has resulted in the widespread use of QR codes.
One of the most significant advantages of using QR codes is that it allows for instant payment. When compared to other modes of payment, paying with QR codes is extremely fast. To process the payment, a user only needs to open the QR code scan app, scan the QR code, and confirm. The payments are made in a matter of seconds.
In addressing this, electronic payments, which have grown in popularity since the government-imposed movement restrictions at the start of the pandemic, are expected to increase even more with the use of QR codes for payments. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) payment system is said to be using the quick response (QR) code as a catalyst to drive digital payments in the country.
An executive vice president of a commercial bank in the Philippines mentioned in a virtual briefing that the interoperability of the codes under the QR PH programme, which uses QR technology in financial transactions, provides significant potential for electronic payments.
He noted that the bank’s app-based digital prepaid bank account product will benefit greatly from the QR PH programme, particularly with the increase in merchants with whom account holders can easily transact.
“We see a lot of potential for these QR payments. We have onboarded a lot of merchants and definitely, coupled with the QR PH interoperable QR PH QR codes, we see more digital payments,” he added. QR PH is among the programmes of the central bank eyed to increase the share of digital payments in the total financial transactions in the country.
In addition, the BSP recently unveiled the QR PH person-to-merchant (P2M) payment facility, an electronic payment system that allows buyers to pay for small-value transactions such as jeepney or tricycle fares, as well as payments of goods and services to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) at no cost to the buyer.
This payment technique involves the buyer scanning the seller’s or service provider’s QR code to pay for an item or service. The central bank wants digital payments to account for roughly 20% of all financial transactions in the country by 2020, which the BSP stated has been significantly exceeded, and to account for around 50% of the total by 2023.
OpenGov Asia in an article reported that the QR PH P2M runs its operations using one of the two electronic payment facilities provided by the central bank’s National Retail Payment System (NRPS). He then noted that they anticipate an increase in the number of QR PH P2M participants in the coming days and that using the QR code is less expensive than using a point-of-sale (POS) terminal. It is also mentioned that the QR PH empowers consumers by allowing them to choose their digital payment service through the interoperability feature of QR PH payments, which is in line with the United Nations’ principles on the responsible use of digital payment.
The Philippines’ central bank has announced that digital payments have surpassed the central bank’s target of 20% of total monthly payment volume by 2020.
According to the executive vice president, the bank responded to the central bank’s request by launching a digital prepaid card in the fourth quarter of 2019 that has nearly 2 million customers. Users of digital prepaid bank accounts can access their accounts, make virtual fund transfers, pay bills, conduct electronic loading, and pay with a QR code, among other things.
Negros Oriental residents will benefit in the future from a joint job generation initiative dubbed “digitaljobsPH,” according to key officials from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA). According to sources, this is the first time in the country that the DICT and CDA have collaborated with a local cooperative for a digital jobs programme that aims to capacitate and empower people to be “tech-savvy,” especially in the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
The Assistant Secretary of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) noted that this is another milestone for PHCCI, which has always collaborated with CDA. He went on to say that by adopting the digitaljobsPH venture, the project will soon become a model for other cooperatives. He pointed out that most businesses are now using digital technologies, particularly during the pandemic.
Members of the cooperative will soon be equipped and trained for greater challenges, placing them “on the map as the first recipients of this digitaljobsPH project,” according to him. It will provide them with new opportunities, he noted. The CDA official stated that in the future, the initiative would be cascaded to other cooperatives, allowing additional coop members to benefit from the employment training.
The collaboration is timely, as per DICT’s regional director, to provide online opportunities to our coop members who have been affected by the pandemic, especially as the country begins to reopen its economy. “The digitaljobsPH programme is not only a contributor to the economy but the society as well,” he said, hoping that beneficiaries will share what they have learned with others to help uplift them. He expressed confidence in the project’s success and said it would be replicated in other parts of the country.
Additionally, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) continues to provide free training to help Filipino talent and freelancers gain access to digital opportunities and high-paying online jobs. “The freelance industry or gig economy, especially among the younger population, play a key role in the country’s economic revitalisation efforts,” DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said. “For this reason, we need initiatives to support freelancers in their hunt for work and to keep their skills relevant,” he added.
One of the Department’s programmes, digitaljobsPH, provides technical training to help Filipinos, particularly those in rural areas, improve their digital capabilities. The goal of the initiative is to expand ICT-enabled livelihood options so that more people may participate in the digital economy. The DICT’s digitaljobsPH initiative, Virtualahan, a Davao-based social enterprise, and the Philippines ICT company are also collaborating on capacity-building programmes to help displaced Filipino workers.
Furthermore, the DICT supports the passage of House Bill 8817, the Freelance Workers Protection Act, which includes provisions to protect freelancers such as the requirement of written contracts when obtaining their services, as well as hazard compensation and night shift differential. These regulations aim to make it easier and more accessible to enforce independent workers’ rights. Any infringement of the bill’s requirements can be reported to the Department of Labour and Employment through the Undersecretary for Workers with Special Concerns.
OpenGov Asia reported that as of last year, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) had conducted a DigitalJobsPH technical training in this city and Lanao del Sur. According to the press release, offering various tracks of free online technical training, last year’s DigitalJobsPh is DICT’s response to the commitment of the government in providing online opportunities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. DICT-Mindanao Cluster 3 Regional Director Alimbzar P. Asum said in an interview that the training aims to enhance the information and communications technology (ICT) skills and competencies of the residents that will help them in venturing into the digital world.
The Board of Investments (BOI) recently approved the application of one of a software company’s Digital Health Solutions as a new software developer under the Innovation Drivers – Community Health Information Tracking System (CHITS) Platform.
The digital health solutions company is a spin-off of the University of the Philippines Manila for the Community Health Information Tracking System (CHITS) technology. The company plans to invest P26 million in its facility in Barangay Moonwalk, Paranaque City, to commercialise CHITS technology. Commercial operations have already started in April 2021 and will employ around 48 people in its full capacity.
The Community Health Information Tracking System (CHITS), one of six Philhealth-certified electronic medical records (EMR) systems used at the Regional Health Unit (RHU) level, minimises patient wait times and improves patient care monitoring through efficient data encoding and record retrieval. Through an appropriate information and communication strategy, the technology seeks to contribute to the effective and efficient delivery of health services, as well as to aid in health decision-making at the local level. When using CHITS, a patient’s records can be searched in just a few seconds after admission, and laboratory requests, results, and reports can be generated automatically.
The entire system is designed to mimic the workflow of primary healthcare facilities, including the paper-based recording process, to aid in the digitisation of health information. This setup will make it easier for health staff or users to learn and use the system with the least amount of monitoring.
The company’s supported biomedical device capable of measuring a patient’s temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, uterine contractions, and ECG readings, is one of two EMRs that can effortlessly link and interoperate with CHITS. It has also been demonstrated to be interoperably utilising the Health Level 7-Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7 FHIR) international health IT standard, which is utilised for data transmission among various healthcare providers.
The CHITS has already been granted copyright protection. The proponent shall continue to create, maintain, enhance, and sell the software “CHITS” as the sole licensee and exclusive distributor.
“The use of EMR would allow healthcare facilities, both private and public, to provide faster and quality health care services, especially now that every Filipino is entitled to them under the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law. EMR systems are useful in identifying COVID-19 trends and potential cases while aiming to limit the spread of the virus by measuring the number of beds being used,” said Department of Trade and Industry undersecretary and BOI managing head Ceferino Rodolfo.
Patients, doctors, clinics, and hospitals will all be connected through the company’s comprehensive health platform. Through its expanding platform, the organisation is currently collaborating with the Department of Health and PhilHealth to develop a universal healthcare system for Filipinos.
In addition, the digital health company and an online medical and/or dental appointment booking system joined together to provide digital healthcare solutions. The alliance intends to develop an integrated telemedicine system based on electronic medical records that will give all Filipinos a safe, secure, and accessible healthcare service.
When CHITS is linked with the online medical booking system, doctors and medical institutions can receive training that includes telemedicine certifications and CPD units. According to the BOI, more health professionals will be well-equipped to provide and offer the treatment their patients require in the future, regardless of distance.
OpenGov Asia in an article also reported that the Philippines government will push ahead to develop medical technology for the country, citing the demand amid the pandemic, an official from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
The Undersecretary highlighted those regional and local vendors are increasingly shifting to cheaper equipment. The local market for medical devices, she noted, is strongly dependent upon imports, with over 100% imported medical equipment and approximately 50% imported medical devices.
DOST includes its biomedical health devices programme as one of its objectives in addressing this issue. This would meet the need for innovative research and local development, for the support and treatment of reliable, safe, and inexpensive biomedical equipment. The curriculum would also enhance biomedical engineering skills and competence and adjacent fields.
The Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) announced that the next phase of the Sustainable Finance Framework, the second-phase regulation to support green banking in the country, will be issued soon. The British Embassy Manila hosted the event in collaboration with the Green Force, an inter-agency technical working group on sustainable finance.
“We are set to release the second issuance on the Sustainable Finance Framework, which aims to provide granular expectations in managing environmental and social risks concerning credit and operational risk areas,” said BSP Governor during the Philippine Sustainable Finance Roadmap and Guiding Principles Launch Event.
The roadmap underscores our commitment to deliver on our carbon reduction pledges. We hope this roadmap will inspire other countries towards adopting the appropriate finance policies that will help in the reduction of carbon emissions.
– Carlos Dominguez III, Finance Secretary
The BSP is executing several initiatives under the Sustainable Central Banking Programme to incorporate sustainability concepts into the BSP’s operations and functions. The recently established Sustainable Finance Roadmap and its guiding principles on developing a green, sustainable and climate-resilient economy, according to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, would encourage other countries to implement similar plans and regulations to help cut carbon emissions.
The roadmap’s development recognised the important role those fiscal policies play in reversing the consequences of the climate catastrophe and facilitating the transition to a low-carbon economy. He went on to say that this was “a significant step forward in our overall national effort to battle climate change and promote our long-term recovery and prosperity.”
In addition, the roadmap is the outcome of the Philippines’ collaboration with the United Kingdom government in assisting the Philippines in implementing the ASEAN Low Carbon Energy Programme. The British government supported the establishment of the “Green Force”—the Inter-Agency Technical Working Group for Sustainable Finance led by the DOF and the BSP.
The master plan for sustainable finance in the Philippines will address policy and regulatory gaps in promoting sustainable investments through finance, implementing sustainable government initiatives, facilitating public infrastructure investments, and developing projects that promote sustainable financing.
Dominguez said that he would bring the blueprint to the next 26th United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change in Glasgow, Scotland, where he would guarantee that the views of climate-vulnerable countries such as the Philippines were heard.
Adopting green or sustainable finance concepts and practises, according to the BSP Governor, might open a slew of prospects for the BSP and the banking sector. For instance, the BSP’s investment of $550 million in the Bank for International Settlements’ green bond fund allows for the diversification of gross international reserves because it provides adequate returns when compared to other fixed-income assets.
The BSP recognised the need for banks and financial institutions to understand and manage climate change and environmental, social, and governance risks to fully maximise the opportunities associated with lending or investing in green or sustainable projects. Banks can be able to design sustainable finance instruments to mobilise funds for pandemic response and recovery sectors, as well as other economic activities that contribute to long-term development
“As we advance sustainability initiatives and continue to collaborate with relevant government agencies and other multilateral development partners, we hope that the sustainability agenda will have a big leap for the next five years,” the BSP Governor said.
Ultimately, Dominguez felt that the Philippines’ audacious commitment to the Paris Agreement of reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 75% over the next decade necessitates a whole-of-nation strategy that can only be realised if the government begins spearheading the implementation of practical and achievable solutions on the ground.
COVID-19 pandemic has foundationally altered the way both the public and private sector across the world deliver services, products, and programmes and has progressed digital transition by years. Government agencies and institutions have fast-tracked digitisation of internal operations and delivery of citizen services. To meet changing and new demands far more quickly, businesses adopted temporary solutions, that are morphing into more permanent ones.
The public and private sectors had to transition business, work, and services as remote working became a necessity. Hence, organisations had an urgent need to test the resilience of new working models to provide better access and protect data. Additionally, other disrupted private sectors looked to the government for adaptive and dynamic regulatory models while citizens also demanded more online services.
Organisations need to adopt new technologies, formulate evolving strategies and put in place best practices to stay relevant, competitive and survive, in the new normal. There is now increased demand for e-services and expectations of better virtual offerings. In this Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA) environment, governments across the globe, too, are looking to ramp up their digital transformation to better citizen services in a post-COVID-19 era.
Today, citizens’ expectations and demands of their government have has escalated astronomically. That means even greater citizen demand for seamless experiences and access to the right content, at the right time, across departments and agencies – at any time, anywhere and with any device. Ultimately, citizen expectations are changing as society becomes more comfortable with using digital services.
Government must use the momentum of recent initiatives in the post-pandemic era to improve digital services for citizens. This is the perfect timing for citizen-centric government leaders to understand the needs of each citizen by having a creative mindset that can unlock the pathway to more positive citizen experiences.
There is a clear opportunity right now for the public sector to share learnings, partner, and collaborate with industry leaders to work hand in hand in achieving true digital transformation that improves the lives of citizens and society as a whole.
This was the focal point of the OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight held on 20 October 2021. This invitation-only session aimed to impart knowledge and strategies on how to accelerate and redefine the connected citizen experience.
Citizen-centric solutions for future-ready government
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia, kicked off the session with his opening address.
He acknowledged in today’s hyperconnected world, demand from citizens is increasing daily. Since COVID-19 drove almost all aspects of life into the digital realm, businesses and institutions pivoted to serve them online. With this, people no longer have to wait in line for a specific service or product.
Their experience with the private sector, retail, commerce and finance, has made them used to uber-personalisation. Citizens, in his opinion, consume things at an astonishing rate and super personalised services are being offered through Artificial Intelligence and other technology.
To cope with demand and match expectations, governments are being driven to push the envelope, or, to put it another way: accelerate digital transformation. Against this backdrop, the main challenge for governments, now, as they strive to match the retail experience and meet citizens’ evolving demands is juggling multiple things at once – infrastructure, processes, security and upskilling.
If the new normal continues to keep life predominantly online, Mohit asks, “Will our systems be able to handle this? Will they cope if organisations decide to go with a work-from-home only model?”
Such thinking, demands organisations and agencies rethink, replan and reimagine their digital transformation outlook. It is no mean feat to deploy a sound, robust and agile strategy.
Finding the right partner, in these circumstances, according to Mohit, is vital to success. Working with experts allows agencies and governments to focus on their core missions and deliverables.
He exhorted the delegates and speakers to participate in the discussions at hand as the session had the potential to generate solutions and insights. This peer-learning and collaborative brainstorming could provide solutions that would be crucial for organisations to improve and become more citizen-centric.
Digital transformation essential to deliver enhanced citizen experience
Colin Tan, Director, Digital Experience, SEA, Adobe spoke next. About a year into the pandemic, at the beginning of 2021, Adobe has commissioned a study to explore the top trends in experience management for the public sector. Some of the key themes they wanted to gain insight into were how the human experience informed the citizen experience and how organisations worked to become more experienced-driven.
“Where organisations are today with advanced modern technology significantly reshaping the world around us and our lives – from what we consume to how we consume to when and where we consume it,” Colin believes. “The human experience has certainly and rapidly been altered by technological modernisation.”
Lockdowns and movement restriction orders due to the pandemic coupled with the personalised services offered by both local businesses and multinational outlets have made the public far less mobile – and reliant on e-commerce. Online shopping with home delivery, remote working and online classes, even now, have been widely adopted and, in most cases, is the norm.
This has altered the perception of what the government should be capable of doing – citizens expect the same experience and service they get from the private sector from the government.
Agreeing with Mohit, Colin feels that meeting these rising expectations of private-sector quality service, delivery and experience, is now at the top of governments’ agenda.
While this may be the expectation, the reality is different – government transmission lags the commercial sector and 33% of all governments are under pressure to accelerate their programmes. A recent report that deals with the state of the public sector transformation globally indicated that 80% of governments are still in the early stages of digital maturity or are developing it.
Singapore has been one of the frontrunners in embracing technology well before the pandemic and has been globally recognised as a leader in e-government and, more recently, for digital government.
Adobe is committed to partnering closely with government agencies around the world in their digital transformation journey to help deliver a better and more rounded citizen experience. The company is synonymous with the creative and document worlds, Products such as Photoshop and Acrobat are “household names and tools” that people employ daily for business, education and personal use.
However, a very important and growing part of the business is the collaboration Adobe has with other organisations and governments in the areas of delivering impactful digital customer or citizen experiences. It has been a privilege for Adobe to have partnered with some of the best and brightest organisations to deliver a range of digital solutions.
Colin was confident that he would learn much as the delegates freely shared their perspectives and insights. He looked forward to engaging in dialogue with like-minded peers and executives and was eager to hear everyone’s ideas and solutions.
Delivering equitable, inclusive and citizen-centric digital services
John Mackenney, Practise Lead of Digital Strategy APAC, Adobe who followed, elaborated on the shift in the way governments are thinking about service delivery as they strive to meet new citizen expectations.
In their experience citizen expectations revolve around convenience, timeliness and personalisation. These are now the norm in service industries, whether it is ordering food, tourism experiences or shopping for retail goods. Citizens expected the same level and quality from interaction with government agencies as well.
“We are seeing governments invest more in trusted platforms; interoperability between different solutions and different technology providers have become very important,” he said.
In these transformation journeys, John has seen that cyber security and cyber threats remain a major concern for governments. Data privacy, storage, access and sovereignty are also key considerations.
In his opinion, the benefits of data and personalisation are beginning to be better understood, and organisations are beginning to strike a better balance. Furthermore, in terms of how employees and teams work, it has been acknowledged that much more of an agile structure and faster move to get government services out and has been accelerated. Additionally, as governments expand and evolve, digital skills – in-house and by external talent – is vital to success.
John believes that there is a shift in how organisations think about using technology, not just in terms of how the technology has been deployed, but also in aspects of how the technologies save money and drive efficiencies into the government budget. This shift presents a range of questions:
- What does that mean as a broader citizen dividend?
- How do governments deliver time savings back to citizens?
- How do we deliver better government services?
- How do you become an experience-driven agency?”
John offers several pillars on which to base the answers to those questions.
The first is to implement strategy and leadership within organisations and across government, with top leadership prioritising digital and driving transformation with business agility.
The next is understanding the importance of becoming a citizen-centred organisation. Citizen success KPIs, empowered teams, governance and security must drive the way agencies work. However, he believes that it is not just about dedicated teams and targets, but about understanding KPIs, “How are you enhancing the application?”.
Data and architecture are another; technology, architecture and a solid data foundation are required to create stunning citizen experiences. John enquires, “How do you get the context around a citizen and how will they understand those different digital touchpoints?”
This is where content-at-scale and optimised experiences come into play, being able to bring all these together to establish the context and service needs of citizens – not just building websites but being able to deliver content across every channel.
Lastly, Al-driven capabilities around journey management and optimising experiences have become a major focus for governments.
John acknowledged the vital work of one of Singapore’s most popular and widely used applications – Life SG – which is how the Singapore government understands citizens and their needs.
According to John, understanding the demands and needs has been a difficult task that some governments and agencies are currently undergoing. He is confident that Adobe can help agencies and invited delegates to explore ways they could collaborate.
Streamlining data access, improving data management and strengthening governance
Joy Bonaguro, Chief Data Officer for the State of California, USA, shared her thoughts on digital transformation from the viewpoint of California’s data strategy and how it unlocked the digital experience.
“I think we spend a little too much time with the digital tail wagging the dog,” she said. “When what we need is data to decide what to offer.”
According to her, California is structured around the concept of empowering data use and it is on the premise that they must consciously equip themselves to navigate the data landscape.
She acknowledges that it is difficult to share and access data across departments because the data is housed in silos. Further, each of those entities has been built around those systems and the only way out is to create holistic data.
Another challenge they faced is that most government data in the United States is not well documented nor well structured, this often results in, what Joy referred to, as “the question death spiral.”
In this scenario, the primary goal is to design a data access spectrum. The government, according to Joy, is currently working on developing this holistic architecture for data access across the system. However, as they build a data road, the government must be careful about how the roads are designed.
She likened this construction to physical roads as the rules of the data road and a physical road are similar. To elaborate, she displayed stop signs from various countries before 1968 as well as current signs. She asked the delegates in which era they would prefer to drive based on the two road signs presented.
Joy indicated that she “would prefer to be in 1968. Whether stepping into a taxi or a bus then was a lot more predictable. These sorts of standards and consistency in the physical world can become so salient”.
Joy emphasised that physical standards have unlocked global commerce, whether in the form of shipping containers or billings of arrivals at various ports. In terms of state-wide data strategy, she believes that there is a lack of data consistency, which has manifested, as an example, in the vaccine rollout in the US healthcare system. There are 58 counties, each delivering vaccines separately. Joy discovered four different vaccine race ethnicity options during her visit to four of the country’s different vaccine signups.
When the summarisation of the vaccination case data in the state of California by race and ethnicity was revealed, it was discovered that nearly 20% of the data on race and ethnicity was missing, leaving the government unable to determine the rest of the other groups that are not being vaccinated.
In terms of developing new data playbooks, the government will be updating its ethics and algorithm toolkit around how to responsibly use and deploy Al, as well as boosting their writers and thinking through how to structurally deepen the government’s data bench.
The government has established a ‘data gym,’ which is being used as a shortcut for leaders to understand their role in the importance and use of driving data. This process is similar to how a gym operates, except that in this case, IT teams are in charge of maintaining the gym and its associated equipment. Nevertheless, it is the data teams who act as trainers, who assist organisations in identifying trouble spots and understanding how to use and sequence the equipment.
Finally, businesses must commit to getting in shape, and this cannot be delegated to IT or data teams.
The Cal Data Academy, which will be soon launched, will provide employees with training to improve and level data competency skills across our frontline staff, government leadership, etc.
In closing, Joy feels that governments should shift their focus, as they are currently looking solely to supplying data roads and not on increasing business demand. It is critical to focus on this to nurture communities.
After the informative presentations, delegates participated in interactive discussions facilitated by polling questions. This activity is designed to provide live-audience interaction, promote engagement, hear real-life experiences, and impart professional learning and development for participants.
The first question asked the delegates what the most important IT priorities for their organisations were. An overwhelming majority (71%) of the participants said digital transformation and innovation to be important. About a fifth (19%) went with improving efficiencies and reducing maintenance costs while 10% indicated digital record-keeping to comply with government legislation was key.
When asked what organisations’ key initiatives would be over the next 12 months, about half (46%) had a variety of responses not in the given options. About a quarter (24%) stated education, while healthcare and security (video data analysis) got 12% each. The remaining 6% went with transportation.
Replying to what their biggest challenge with managing change in data/business requirements was, 33% were concerned about the time involved to make changes. About 29% felt it was a lack of flexibility/agility in current systems and 14% had uncertainty about future needs. A quarter (24%) indicated other issues, not on the given list.
The next poll inquired why organisations think Digital Transformation requires New IT Strategies. A third (33%) answered partnering for capabilities, 27% say evolving business value and another 27% went with new IT enablers. The balance 13% opted for external customer-centricity.
On being asked which Infrastructure Tech Modernisation area their organisation is investing in or planning to invest in support of Digital Transformation (DX)/IT Transformation (ITX) projects, more three fourths (78%) answered data analytics while 22% say converged or aggregated infrastructure.
On what is their biggest challenge was when it came to data management, about 30% said fast accessibility (being able to get the data quickly) while another 30% felt real-time insights (ability to analyse data in real-time) was their main issue. A quarter (25%) indicated regulatory compliance while 15% opted for data loss prevention.
Delegates were polled on how their organisations think AI and Data Analytics can impact / improve their current initiative. Half went with faster access to data to improve pre-emptive analysis. The remaining delegates were equally split between needing AI-ready infrastructure to manage a large set of data (25%) and a machine learning-based approach for IT infrastructure (25%).
The last question asked the delegates what trigger factors or events had been (or would be) most important in leading the organisations to use or seriously consider using cloud services. More than 72% of them answered businesses demand more agility and/or speed from IT. 17% said IT Capital expenditure (CapEx) budgets are being constrained or reduced and 11% stated hardware (e.g. servers) coming to the end of its life.
The future of government will be digital. Challenges and difficulties are unavoidable as more organisations and agencies accelerate their digital transformation efforts. Due to ongoing resource constraints, increased legislative priority, budget constraints and the preservation of an existing system are required.
Citizens’ expectations are essential in this process and governments all over the world are working hard to meet them. Innovative technology must be used to empower and improve the practices of government agencies while also lowering costs and making the citizen experience as smooth and efficient as possible.
Colin thanked everyone and expressed his gratitude for the robust participation and insightful contributions. He thoroughly enjoyed the session and hoped the delegates had as well. Colin was excited to work with the delegates to help them meet citizens’ demands and improve the citizen experience.
In a recent discussion hosted by an international research organisation based in the Philippines called Digital Readiness PH: Fostering a Digital Empowerment Agenda, the country’s telecom service provider’s Senior Vice President, Chief Sustainability Officer, and Head of Corporate Communications announced the company is investing $2.1 billion in capital expenditure this year to expand the country’s digital infrastructure.
If the Philippines government intends to boost digital infrastructure and promote economic resiliency, it is mentioned that the government must adopt and consider the private sector’s initiative in infrastructure investment to improve internet connectivity and lower costs.
“We targeted a million fibre lines this year and we were able to hit that target as early as September, and we have made 4G the default technology for mobile data and we are aggressively expanding into 5G to enable services like AI, IoT, robotics, among others.” She spoke. It is also highlighted that the major issue is no longer internet speed, per se, but the seamless connection across various places in the archipelago.
According to the recent study on digital payments in the Asia Pacific region by cybersecurity firm, the Philippines has the highest number of “e-cash adopters” among 10 countries in the region topping at 37% followed by India (23%), Australia (15%), Vietnam (14%), Indonesia (13%) and Thailand (13%), and Singapore (11%).
Moreover, COVID 19 has accelerated digital adoption among Filipino consumers, particularly in the areas of e-payments and e-commerce, and a wide range of economic activities, including micro, small, and medium enterprises, are now conducted online. In addition, the telecommunications company has also been focusing on the education sector, establishing Filipino Schools that provide 21st-century learning in all 17 regions of the Philippines. Other education-related plans include teacher training that includes not only the standard curriculum but also mental health, recognition of parents’ critical role in distance learning, and the establishment of an IT Academy, and the development of a technopreneurship module with De La Salle University.
The DICT Secretary, who also participated in the discussion reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the transformation, beginning with actual physical connectivity highways via the National Broadband Network. The country is also working to bring connectivity to underserved and unserved areas throughout the country. Capacity-building initiatives to prepare Filipinos for the digital economy complement these efforts.
Ultimately, the president of the International Research Organisation acknowledged that private-sector investments had significantly improved internet services during the pandemic. The challenge, amidst these gains, is to enable the education sector to catch up with these infrastructure improvements.
OpenGov Asia in an article reported that as the DICT rallies its efforts under the framework, the agency aims to enhance its plans to be more responsive to the actual needs and demands of the Philippine ICT landscape.
The Free Wi-Fi for All Programme, on the other hand, will improve internet access to bridge the digital divide and expand socio-economic opportunities for the public. The Department intends to establish a total of 10,069 live sites by the end of 2020, with 2,588 sites to be formed in government hospitals and rural health sites to support COVID-19 recovery efforts. A total of 23,100 sites are planned for this year. The Free Wi-Fi for All Programme also adapted its implementation to the most pressing need during the pandemic, installing around 50 government-designated quarantine facilities nationwide with Internet access to provide connectivity for both patients and doctors.
The Philippine’s lawmaker meanwhile stressed that “while there are people with access to the Internet, there are grossly underserved or unserved,” she said, noting that “broadband is still a challenge, considering that broadband speeds in the country average 16Mbps, which is far from the average of many countries.”