Throughout the pandemic, the public sector has overcome huge challenges. Despite living through the most disruptive period in a generation, our public services have been at their best and most innovative. We’ve witnessed just how important technology is in connecting local and global communities. Using digital tools to collaborate and partner across local government, suppliers, voluntary organisations and the community has proved vital to deliver services to those most in need.
The government’s digital minister Oliver Dowden said that the pandemic has, “turbocharged the digital transformation of almost every part of our days” because technology played such an essential role in keeping us working and connected. So as we move closer to normality, these are some of the key technology trends that Civica sees continuing to transform public services.
Blending physical & virtual worlds
For many of us, our homes will remain a part-time office. As a result, we’re seeing an increased demand for technologies to enable the consumption of public services anytime and anywhere. Automation and conversational artificial intelligence will continue to provide the initial triage, freeing up human support for those who really need it. Being able to seamlessly blend these physical and virtual environments will continue to be vital for improving citizens’ overall experience and public-service resilience.
The pandemic has both accelerated the cashless agenda and prompted a further move towards a contactless society. As the pandemic lifts, we’ll want more. We’re already seeing an increase in technologies to help us access services and entertainment with less physical contact, whether that’s using our mobiles for more interaction with public services or non-touch devices to monitor our health and pay for goods.
AI plus human collective intelligence
Collective actions have been a vital part of the response to the pandemic, by sharing intelligence and connecting experiences to solve problems. In the post-pandemic world, we’ll see greater use of AI to assist this human collective intelligence, enhancing our capacity to make decisions, adapt and learn.
The pandemic has intensified citizens’ expectations and galvanised demand for more digital public services. People are more aware of what can be done online, are more comfortable doing so, and are increasingly critical of those not meeting those expectations. With a more tech-savvy population across all age groups, it’ll be vital for public services to digitise further and improve the experience for everyone.
The datafication of me, the internet of us
Which brings us to data. We live in a data-rich world, and one that continues to grow at exponential rates. But we also live in an era where we can better understand and use that data for the greater good.
Digitally-enabled public services, fuelled by high quality, carefully managed data, can better adapt and respond to our needs and preferences as citizens and provide earlier interventions for those most in need.
The coming years will continue to see a trend towards increasingly personalised, innovative services and care; the internet through us and the internet for us. How quickly we get there however, will depend upon how successfully we can harness our wealth of data.
Liz O’Driscoll is head of innovation at Civica.