Delivering citizen-centric state government
- By James (JJ) Foster
- Jul 12, 2018
Every CIO, but especially those in state government, worries about delivering more with less. According to the National Association of State CIOs, state government CIOs are working with the same technologies as their counterparts in industry and in the federal government. Cloud services, security, consolidation, digital government, shared services, broadband, data management, governance and agile delivery demand their attention. Citizens, however, have a very different set of priorities. They want services that are simple, easy to use, personalized and available anywhere, any time and on any device – just like the services they get from the broad commercial market.
At first, these two priorities may seem like two sides of the same coin, but in fact they are not. CIOs are concerned with technologies that can be used to provide citizen-centric services but which are not guaranteed to provide those services unless delivered in way that makes them easy to consume. Citizens care about the quality of services without regard to the technology used to deliver them.
How can we reconcile these two priorities while balancing costs? The answer lies in three technologies state CIOs are using to help transform government to be more citizen centric – cloud, big data and automation.
Cloud-based solutions allow the state CIO to provide ubiquitous services to the citizen – on-demand and in a very cost-effective way. Rather than buying warehouses of servers, storage arrays and network equipment, the CIO can take advantage of commercial competition to buy low-level infrastructure that allows for the storage and retrieval of data from departments across state government – allowing citizens to access the data in a way that does not require them to know which department provides which service. Further, cloud-based solutions at higher levels in the stack (such as software-as-a-service solutions) allows state governments to build citizen-centric end-user solutions on modern web or SaaS platforms that can handle case management, workforce development and e-commerce.
After citizen data is made available in the cloud and accessible from anywhere, the next step is providing data and services in a citizen-centric way. Citizens should not have to know that the Environmental Department has information on drainage ditch easements, that the Department of Public Works has sewage easements or that the Department of Transportation has road and sidewalk easements. Instead, citizens should be able to enter their address and have all easement information provided in one place.
This is where big data solutions come in. By aggregating data based on citizen information, solutions can be built on modern platforms to provide information to citizens in a way that is easy for them to use. These big data solutions are everywhere in commercial industry and are beginning to work their way into government as well.
Now we have complete data, accessible in a meaningful way to the citizen and have started to reconcile the conflicting priorities between what the CIO needs to achieve and what citizens want from their state government. The question is – how does the data get to the cloud in the first place?
All CIOs struggle to fund a complete transformation of their environments, which have been built up over decades. To bridge the gap between legacy and transformed systems, CIOs in all industries are increasingly turning to automation. This technology includes tools such as artificial intelligence for aggregating data, robotic process automation for mimicking human-computer interaction and orchestration for joining disparate systems together. With these tools, CIOs can extract data from legacy systems in a way that does not disrupt those systems until they are ready for transformation and modernization. This strategy provides any number of benefits, including higher security, lower costs, less disruption to existing services, higher compliance with laws, and the ability to interact with users in a way that is similar to how they use commercial services every day.
When faced with challenges of meeting the ever-increasing expectations of a demanding citizenry, CIOs can now turn to modern tools to help state agencies interact with their citizens. Cloud-based solutions provide ubiquitous infrastructure and modern web- and mobile-based access, business intelligence delivers comprehensive information to solve a citizen's unique problem and automation provides a cost-effective and secure way of bridging legacy systems without the need for massive fork-lift system upgrades.
James (JJ) Foster is the vice president of transformation at Digital Intelligence Systems LLC.