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Local government as a data-driven community platform

Data, technology and customer experience (CX) are among the trends shaping the future of local governments, a new report shows.

The Future of Local Government” by KPMG International states that because the public interacts with local governments the most, those agencies are best poised to make a for constituents and businesses.

“It is anticipated that game-changing technology will be central to forging local government organizations that are digitally enabled, data-driven and effectively serving the remarkably diverse array of stakeholders they serve across their localities and communities,” the report states. “Technology, smart data use and emerging automation can transform local authorities organization-wide to fully integrated front, middle and back offices and transform core processes and workforces, enhancing self-service accessibility, response times, performance and operational efficiency.”

Using data to drive decision- and policymaking is becoming increasingly crucial. Historically, government data has been stored across an array of sources, databases, systems and departments; one in four local officials surveyed by Forrester Consulting said public datasets housed in multiple databases and lines of business systems are a significant obstacle to executing new customer-focused strategies.

“Bringing disparate data sources together to tap into the immense power of analytics and data-based business insights will play a critical role in reshaping local government for a new era,” the report states.

More important than just unifying data, however, is protecting it. Local officials working toward a digital customer-centric service model must establish a trusted identity management ecosystem. “Smart data integration and secure management of trusted digital identities” is key to “enabling governments to serve their communities and stakeholders,” the report adds.

Use of modern technologies is another trend, and it relates back to data. Seventy-six percent of survey respondents said their organization has a good or excellent data and analytics strategy, while 65% said their agency is good or excellent with data governance, but only 38% said their organization is good or excellent at data collection, enrichment and transfer.

Data factors into another trend: CX in general and personalized services in particular. Forrester’s survey found that 51% of respondents believe their CX meets expectations, while 36% believe they occasionally or consistently exceed them.

Lafayette, La., is one example of a city providing personalized CX related to services. As part of its Smart City program, it has launched a 311 portal to encourage and respond to public requests, a traffic-monitoring system to alleviate congested roadways and a blockchain application to manage maintenance and safety of the city’s vehicles, according to the report.

Another example is the use of a database by residents of localities in India’s Tamil Nadu state to access government services rather than going to an office in person. Blockchain secures the exchange of information.

Respondents said that the three main obstacles to executing a CX strategy are data privacy and security (36%), the lack of qualified workers (33%) and a lack of real-time understanding of demand across channels and programs (31%). Still, almost half -- 48% -- said they plan to somewhat or significantly increase their investment in digitally enabled technology architecture, and 54% will invest in insight-driven strategies and actions, according to the report.

“Smart data integration and secure management of trusted digital identities -- combined with newly integrated teams and processes -- will play a significant role in enabling governments to serve their communities and stakeholders,” the report states.

For the report, KPMG commissioned Forrester to conduct research and interviewed government leaders in global economies in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Saudi Arabia and others.

About the Author

Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.

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