Five critical ICT priorities for the public sector
A smart nation connected with digital tools and data analytics will pave the way for widespread digital transformation.
Australia has taken a significant step toward modernising the digital infrastructure of all government and public sector agencies by launching the Digital Transformation strategy and establishing the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) with a mandate to “improve people’s experience of government services”.
But what should the public sector focus on as it becomes digitally ready heading towards 2025? The following five priorities are those that our research has identified as being the most critical.
The smart platform
According to the latest Global Interconnection Index (GXI), an industry study published by Equinix that tracks, measures and forecasts the global growth in interconnection bandwidth between businesses and organisations, public sector digital transformation is rapidly accelerating private interconnection.
Interconnection bandwidth reflects the total capacity provisioned to privately and directly exchange traffic, with a diverse set of counterparties and providers, at distributed IT exchange points inside carrier-neutral colocation data centres. To capitalise on these trends, Australians need a fast, reliable, scalable and secure interconnection platform that enables private and direct data exchange.
The government must create a robust, private and secure platform that segments and controls data traffic to address scenarios requiring the highest levels of cybersecurity. A highly secure platform includes protecting blockchain networks, securing data repositories for data privacy, protection and compliance, and preventing data breaches initiated by bad actors.
Government agencies need a new architecture that offers direct interconnection to clouds, partners and ecosystems, with closer proximity to consumers and other agencies. The resulting seamless and integrated experience will enable a digital supply chain of rich ecosystems of agencies, industry, clouds, networks and partners.
To that end, by deploying hybrid and multicloud infrastructures, the government can seamlessly integrate cloud with other infrastructure capabilities.
There are many benefits from integrating cloud. Firstly, the government can optimise cloud networks to control costs while monitoring bandwidth to increase capacity, reduce latency, and improve distribution, resilience and security. For example, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, a UK government body, chose to move services to the cloud with an interconnection strategy powered by Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric® (ECX Fabric®). By so doing, they cut latency by two-thirds and reduced the time to add new connections from months to hours.
The Australian government, too, is growing cloud partner ecosystems to enhance distributed cloud security. It should continue to build workforce skills to drive cloud adoption and implementation.
An interconnected digital government
Modernisation is shifting agencies from traditional IT architectures to more distributed, interconnected IT platforms that can directly and securely connect all the locations, people, data and things needed for success. Creating a robust private interconnection foundation will prepare Australia to ride the next wave of digital innovation with confidence and greater agility and flexibility.
The DTA has defined three major strategic priorities that are needed to produce a government that is:
- Easy to deal with
- Informed by the citizen
- Fit for the digital age
These priorities call for securely collecting, storing and sharing data, including interconnection with various multicloud and edge strategies.
The Australian Government’s Vision 2025 promise is the ability for citizens to “access all government services digitally,” identifying 68 high-volume transaction services that each have more than 50,000 transactions per year. Through a digital identity service such as myGovID, Australians can easily prove their identities for a secure online access without having to log in to multiple sites.
This sort of transformation enables a real-time insights capability, as a government agency can collect data just once with a user’s digital identity and share it with multiple other agencies when the occasion arises.
With the right technology partners providing top-notch digital ecosystems and interconnection, the government can remove the inefficiencies of duplicate services and multiple layers of administration.
Investing in the edge
Investing in edge capabilities ensures that public data is collected close to the source (that is, end user) so that applications can access the data instantly. Managing data at the source is of increasing importance as companies start to develop 5G and IoT capabilities, and as the public will increasingly expect services to be delivered in real time.
Government applications are undergoing their next seismic shift as they move from being cloud-delivered from the centre to cloud-enabled at the edge. The GXI forecast and supporting deployment data reveal that workloads are indeed moving to the edge, where data is exchanged in proximity to people and partners.
Delivering experiences and exchanging data at the edge improves responsiveness and business processing capabilities. For example, 5G is expected to reduce the last-mile (endpoint) latency to 5 milliseconds, meaning that edge-delivered services will have a major advantage over regional core delivery.
Distributed IT services require a digital platform for superior performance, security and data exchange at the digital edge. The GXI found that these distributed IT services correlate to an increased need for interconnection bandwidth to achieve a digital-ready state.
Upon the advent of 5G technology, 5G networks will accelerate critical agency efforts to collect and analyse data. Fast analysis of vital intelligence will be necessary to protect everything from ports of entry to government employees coming under continuous phishing attacks.
According to the UN, 55% of the world’s population live in urban areas, and that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050. Supporting urban density will require the local interconnection and analytics of applications, data, content and networking through advances in 5G, IoT, robotics and hyperautomation.
At the core of any smart city is its information-driven, interconnected foundation. With the widespread adoption of smartphones and the internet, connectivity is available everywhere. Sensors and mobile technology will be embedded in IoT devices, and location technologies will enable administrators to predict failures and resolve issues. Advanced analytics will enable technology agencies to convert operational data into real intelligence, catering specifically to each citizen in a connectivity dependent marketplace.
In 2014, Yarra City Council in Victoria needed a digital transformation strategy to update its architecture to provide services in environmental initiatives, building and construction applications, employment services and local business schemes. The city migrated its backup disaster recovery to the cloud via Platform Equinix® and rolled out a number of cloud-based software applications to bring services to the edge and make community services more efficient.
The public sector must build a highly interconnected digital ecosystem that connects governments to governments, governments to citizens and governments to enterprises, so that population centres, commerce, and digital and business ecosystems can meet and interact in real time.
A smart nation connected with smart digital tools and data analytics will pave the way for widespread digital transformation and give citizens access to smart technology to improve their quality of life.
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