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INDUSTRY INSIGHT

The future of state and local citizen service depends on digital adoption

Citizens across the country are relying on government today more than ever, with digital service delivery becoming an essential pillar of virtual service. While digital service delivery is not a new concept, state and local IT leaders must use this moment to make concrete progress toward more effective and efficient citizen-centric experiences.

One of the most eye-opening realities to come out of the pandemic is the fragility of critical government service delivery systems and the aging technologies they rely on. Yet, the overnight shift to virtual government pushed state and local leaders to achieve modernization success in a few months, which would have usually taken years. Was this the wake-up call that government leaders needed to phase out antiquated legacy systems?

Looking ahead, state and local governments must double down on technology solutions to continue delivering services for citizens. The best solutions are those that propel modernization by advancing agency missions and elevating citizen service. The future of virtual government depends on state and local leadership buy-in -- and IT leaders can be change agents for their organizations when it comes to investing in the right solutions.

Solving the service challenges

While impressive strides in new technologies to move digital delivery forward have taken place in the last year, IT leaders still must assess their individual agency needs to determine the best path to modernization.

When facing funding concerns, there are ways to combat the high up-front and maintenance costs, including utilizing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding and the $1 trillion infrastructure bill to invest in solutions. There are also many types of service platforms on the market that provide plenty of options. Still, as-a-service solutions offer flexibility and agility while containing costs, allowing agencies to scale up or down without massive disruption. These give state and local governments elevated citizen service capabilities by enabling a modern data experience while running on a simple, seamless and sustainable platform.

During the pandemic, state and local governments faced challenges in rapidly deploying and scaling virtual services. Over the past year, IT leaders have looked for the best ways to equip employees with the right tools and technologies, but the need to optimize operations and modernize as quickly as possible still prevails. And with state and local employment is down 2.1% from pre-pandemic levels, so staffing issues are deterring the push to modernization. Solutions that require less maintenance can help agencies free up staff for other mission-driving activities.

Finally, state and local governments are focused on modernization while the rising concerns of security and data privacy loom. With a 50% increase in cyberattacks from 2017 to 2020, IT leaders are looking for ways to upgrade systems, and security concerns remain top-of-mind.

Investing in solutions that include data-protection features, such as backup and rapid restore, can be essential for quickly recovering data after a disruptive event and ensuring mission-critical support. State and local leaders should invest in solutions that stay ahead of known exploits and vulnerabilities, control access to secure files and lockdown data from malicious attacks. They can also mitigate risk and bolster data security by prioritizing rapid restore.

The future of digital government

A vital tactic for kickstarting service delivery is prioritizing new solutions that deliver a modern data experience for citizens. Investing in a right-sized and efficient storage system and application containers can help agencies elevate citizen service capabilities. The rise in popularity of as-a-service solutions was a testament to the systems’ abilities to sustain rapid modernization in the changing environment -- just what state and local governments need in uncertain times.

The need for innovation in many state and local practices has grown more critical, and now is the time for IT leaders to invest in solutions that will propel their organizations forward. As they deal with more information than ever, agencies must have the proper digital infrastructure to support operations. Governments should not treat digital government strategies as static plans. Instead, state and local leaders should revisit their strategies on an ongoing basis and consult with citizens along the path to modernization.

About the Author

Mike Wiseman is vice president of public sector at Pure Storage.

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