Digital-first, flexible and responsive: the future of e-government
Significant advances in digital technologies hold the promise of enhancing integrated citizen-centric information and online services. Modern e-government is a lot more complex than streamlining some procedures; it consists of ambitious goals, numerous stakeholders and a minefield of legal and privacy compliance issues.
The term e-government describes the use of technical resources to provide public services to citizens in a suburb, city, region, state or across the entire country. In principle, this covers all mutual relationships: it consists of the digital interactions between citizens and the government, between a central government and government agencies or regional institutions, between a government and its citizens, between the government and its employees, and also between government and businesses.
To truly address the changing needs and expectations of their constituents, government agencies must be digital-first, flexible and responsive. Siloed, legacy systems are unable to support much-needed agility, but also pose a greater privacy risk and increased challenges for data sharing and service delivery.
However, for e-government to live up to its smarter public service delivery promise and play a role in enhancing the technical possibilities of citizen-centric services securely, it needs to function efficiently and effectively and be available on multiple channels. Therefore, sophisticated and constant monitoring of government IT is an essential part of maintaining citizen-centred e-government services for every public sector organisation.
The technical possibilities of e-government
Areas such as big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), administrative and business process management and blockchain are all driving innovation in the public sector. Now collectively referred to as Government 3.0 — initially by Gartner, who coined the phrase — they are creating vast improvements in service delivery, resource management and decision-making in government entities.
For instance, 5G AI drones are now set to help with gathering images relating to damaged power and utility infrastructure due to floods and bushfires, following a successful trial of new technology by power company Endeavour Energy, alongside partners Amazon Web Services (AWS), Optus and Unleashed Live.
Digital government is not a set-and-forget investment and government organisations that evolve constantly and meet citizens on their own terms by engaging with them via their preferred channels — either in person, by phone, via a mobile device or through smart speakers, chatbots or augmented reality — will exceed their citizens’ expectations. However, there are significant technical and compliance challenges to contend with when introducing this level of multichannel citizen engagement.
The challenges of monitoring government IT
The following key issues are intended to provide an initial overview of regular challenges that the government sector faces in IT service delivery.
1. Many distributed locations
Whether it’s the branch office of a public authority, a local authority in a regional district or several public data centres, almost all IT departments of public institutions are faced with the task of managing and maintaining distributed locations.
One solution to this is to have satellites at each location (not to be confused with agents, which must be installed on each monitored device). The satellites collect the monitoring data at the locations and send it in an encrypted form to the central instance that is responsible for the complete evaluation and storage of the data.
This helps keep costs low and expenses for operation and maintenance manageable, while at the same time the entire IT infrastructure is centrally monitored.
2. Heterogeneous IT landscapes
The integration of branch offices, existing structures, hardware and software, virtualisation: networks of public institutions are heterogeneous. Devices and applications offer their own monitoring tools. Although these give us some insight, they contribute little to an overview of the entire IT system.
This calls for universal solutions that can monitor devices and applications independently of manufacturers as well as integrate special solutions into the overall monitoring process. The decisive factors here are, on the one hand, the standardisation of the solution in order to keep the costs low and, on the other hand, the flexibility to connect existing special solutions via the appropriate interfaces.
3. Data privacy
Government organisations manage and secure the sensitive data of their citizens using firewalls, virus scanners and backup systems, which are the standard building blocks of an integrated security concept.
However, for e-government to work effectively it is important to ensure that these systems work reliably. Did the backup work? Does the firewall work? Is the virus scanner up to date? A comprehensive monitoring system will include all of these elements in the monitoring process.
Both internal processes and citizen services highly depend on an available and high-performance network. In order to guarantee this is fully functioning, IT teams need the appropriate information at their fingertips. A sophisticated monitoring system should therefore be at the heart of e-government because its IT infrastructure is the most important asset that enables it to provide digital services to all of its citizens, 24/7, 365 days a year.
The ability to leverage that monitoring data strategically in real time will significantly improve a government entity’s ability to seamlessly deliver services, despite the increased strain on finite IT teams and technology resources in an era of post-pandemic budget cuts.
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