In an era of rapid social and economic change, governments need to overcome several challenges and tap into various opportunities to sustain and improve their services. So how do governments achieve this complex task? The answer is smart government.
Smart government, by definition, can be defined as the creation of public value by synergizing technology, information, and communication to mobilize agile governance. By harnessing integrated communications technology for digital transformation, governments can become fast, measurable, affordable, and sustainable in the way they interact with their internal and external customers.
So, what does a smart vision really look like? In my view, the strategy needs to encompass multiple elements, from leveraging technology to the use of innovative business models and policies. While governments around the world are beginning to engage citizens with their smart initiatives, it’s important for us to really talk about what defines a well-rounded smart government initiative that is tipped for total success. By investing in breakthrough innovations, governments of all levels can accelerate performance to capitalize on untapped opportunities, improve services delivery, and provide a positive impact on citizens’ lives.
Happy, urban, and sustainable
Based on Dubai 2021’s vision, there are six key pillars that form the foundation of an effective smart government strategy:
So why are we starting with people? We’re in what’s often termed the age of the citizen, and the whole premise of smart government hinges on the people it serves. Enhancing the customer experience to ensure citizen happiness and satisfaction while improving lives through enhanced convenience is the core emphasis of smart government. Within this, the citizen-centric smart foundation is all about creating a framework and infrastructure to foster educated, aware, cultured, and healthy individuals who are productive in their lives and innovative in their field.
Society is an extension of the individual and therefore forms the next critical pillar of the smart foundation. A vibrant, sustainable, and multicultural society needs to remain at the heart of every governance model.
Growing urbanization has led to its own set of needs, challenges, and expectations. Best-run public sector organizations address growing urbanization, demands for accountability, rising citizen service requirements, and safety expectations by focusing on key imperatives. That defines the experience pillar. An additional objective is to provide a rich cultural experience in a safe and secure environment.
What’s the point of any strategy if it’s not sustainable? An ever-growing population and shifting demographics are creating relentless demands for jobs, business, talent, investments, infrastructure, trade, and commerce.
The greatest challenge of any economy today is balancing growth with sustainability. The ideal plan is to focus on creating smart, integrated, and connected cities where:
- Resources are used sustainably
- Environmental elements are clean, healthy, and sustainable
- Safe and resiliently built environments are nurtured
Government and economy do the tango
Globalization and the impact of trade and competition have meant that governments can now tap into the opportunity to create financially sustainable and innovative knowledge economies. To be attractive as a global economy, a city needs sustainable economic growth and to be a business- friendly city and a preferred investment destination.
The emphasis must be achieving excellence in governance by being proactive. Real-time reporting and data analytics can provide governments with instant insights to make informed decisions at the right time. Compliance and risk management, as well as fraud detection and prevention, all lead to excellence in governance.
Finally, of course, a pioneering economy and government needs to be sustainable and innovative in the management of its resources while being transparent and reliable in its dealings. The various elements within a smart framework must include access to capital, labor, skills, and training, state-of-the-art technology and government services, along with a robust business environment enjoying suitable policy support.
By engaging, improving, and managing interactions with their stakeholders, smart governments can create lasting public value. That’s where the true value of being smart is.
For an example of one smart government in action, see How the Port of Hamburg Doubled Capacity with Digitization.