Innovation and integration have become key characteristics of eGovernment projects in Ireland. The eGovernment Summit and Awards highlighted just some of the successful innovative eGovernment projects making an impact on citizens’ lives.
When judging the recent eGovernment Awards I was excited to see the calibre of entries, and particularly to see how innovative and smart the projects were. eGovernment, it seems, has come a long way. Historically eGovernment projects were focused on using the internet to deliver services to citizens. However, a quick look at the shortlist entries to the eGovernment awards reveals projects that use technology to achieve better government, to improve operations of a government organisation, and to transform internal and external relationships through technology.
An exciting time for eGovenment
The National Transport Authority was named the overall winner with its Real Time Passenger Information app, which integrates real time arrival information services from Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, DART, Iarnród Éireann and Luas services. It allows citizens to set alerts to inform them when their bus/train is 10 minutes, or 20 minutes or 30 minutes away from a certain bus/train stop.
Significant to the NTA winning the top prize was its joined-up thinking; it provides data from multiple sources across multiple agencies, enabling shared service delivery. It’s this level of integration and collaboration that’s become an important factor in the delivery of eGovernment services. As technology has evolved citizens’ expectations have changed. Public sector organisations need to provide citizens with seamless access to information and services so they can interact with government through any channel, at any time and on any device.
But eGovernment is about more than service delivery, it’s also about making business processes and systems more efficient. We also saw winning projects like Cork City Council’s Litter Fines project, which took an inefficient paper-based process and modernised it. The new digital system has been integrated into the Council’s CRM system and allows for more reliable reporting, data collection and access. In the four months after rolling out the new system there were 1,327 litter evidences resulting in 282 litter fines, a conversion rate of 21%. The new system is also delivering significant time savings throughout the process: 2 mins time (per fine) saving for preparing fine information and 3 minutes saved when generating fine documentation.
Projects that can show clear and tangible benefits are the hallmark of where eGovernmnet should be. During the eGovernment Summit, Simon Harris (Minister of State at the Department of Finance) made the valid point that in many cases internal process need to be made more efficient before they are digitised or mobilised. Technology alone is not always going to solve a problem or create efficiencies. It’s this change in thinking that’s one of more interesting aspects of future eGovernment projects.
What does the future hold for eGovernment?
I know I was not alone in finding the eGovernment Summit an eye opener. A packed house at eir HQ heard speakers talking about trends such as artificial intelligence, wearables and cognitive reality, all of which are poised to make a significant impact on our everyday lives, including Government/citizen interactions. These developments aren’t as futuristic as we might think. The proliferation of data and the access to huge volumes of information will herald in new business models. Cameron Brooks of IBM Watson spoke about using the cognitive system to generate real-time information that can be used effectively by the healthcare industry; devices not dissimilar to Fitbits could be used to warn patients or doctors of impending epileptic attacks for example. With unrestricted access to all of this data and the cognitive systems to analyse it, the sky really is the limit for not only predictive healthcare, but for the creation of truly smart cities and smart Government.
What we’re seeing now is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s an exciting time for eGovernment. Over the coming years we’re likely to see an increase in public/private collaborations that will drive the pace of change. And as advanced technology becomes even more ingrained in what we do and how we do it, we can expect innovation to filter down as the scope and potential of what can be achieved is realised.
The annual eGovernment Summit and Awards are sponsored by eir Business.