As digital transformation continues to connect our world, the face of government is also changing. Although government’s timeless mission is to provide services, protect society, and enable economic prosperity, the emergence of digitization and its underpinning technology innovations offer immense opportunities to deliver better policy results.
This requires reimagining business models, processes, and workforce engagement to make sense of the data from sensors, social media, and mobile devices, as well as taking advantage of cloud, in-memory computing, and collaboration technologies for constituent and supplier engagement.
But what shape will these changes take? Here are a few examples.
The City of Philadelphia, AirBnB, and a Papal visit
When you’re expecting a million guests and have only 11,200 hotel beds in your city, how do you meet the demand? The City of Philadelphia had to come up with a creative solution when a 2015 papal visit flooded the city with lodging needs. In anticipation of this event and the chaos that would ensue, the city created a modified regulatory framework. This allowed vacation rental broker AirBnB to market and provide the needed accommodations.
The partnership between the city and AirBnB provided homeowners in the area with the legal requirements to rent space to visitors. AirBnB had been encouraging new hosts to list their spaces in advance of the September visit. At the same time, the framework allowed the hosts to remain within the legal requirements the city had outlined. The changes in the framework required the city to update its zoning laws to allow short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods and ensuring hosts were charging the 8.5% hotel tax. The framework has also worked with similar organizations in the city that provide hosted short-term rentals.
Twitter and the 2011 Virginia earthquake
When social media outpaces an earthquake, you know it’s fast! But that’s exactly what happened during the 2011 Virginia earthquake. Social media users in Washington, DC received Twitter notifications of the earthquake as much as 30 seconds ahead of feeling the seismic waves from the event. Users take to their mobile devices very quickly after an earthquake or similar event. For this reason, the United States Geological Survey is using event reports to pinpoint an earthquake’s epicenter within a minute of the occurrence. This is significantly faster than their scientific instruments can plot the location.
Where could government go with this type of information? Digital business software can be integrated to monitor social media trends. This type of monitoring could be tied into early warning systems, allowing people in earthquake-prone areas to get to safety before the bulk of the seismic waves hit and cause damage. Since the earthquake, a network of 27 sensors have been set up around the city to record seismic data. The result? Better modeling of how existing historic structures and monuments will weather future events of this magnitude.
With today’s concern for the environment, urban forestry is taking on a whole new purpose. Software such as iTree allows forestry analysis and an assessment of benefits. The software helps communities better manage their forestry assets to maximize green space and environmental benefit. The comprehensive package can monitor a range of scale from an individual tree to an entire state. It provides deep insight into proper forestry management. It also supplies users with ideas for forest management activities to get everyone involved in improving forest habitat.
Ohio’s online checkbook
One constant gripe about government is spending. Since tax dollars are directly used to fund government projects, people want to know where their money is going. Ohio’s solution to this problem is an online checkbook. Started to create better transparency in government, it provides insight into where Ohio tax dollars are going every year. The information tracks how much money each department spends. It also tracks how much money individual contractors receive from the state government. The type of expense can also be tracked, as can the category of spending. Because this information is freely available, demands for information can be quickly and conveniently researched. As an example, the Commissioners of the Sinking Fund, which administers debt payments for the state, have spent over $762 million on debt service.
Citizens and businesses expect more from government today. Public agencies on all levels are falling behind private companies in digital maturity. At the same time, government stakeholders expect a new type of experience. They’re looking for a frictionless experience. Work and collaboration should be seamless. There are interconnected service communities where technology is intuitive and easy to use. The new paradigm for government is personalized, anticipatory services tailored to individual needs.
Is your agency ready for this new world?
If your agency isn’t part of the digital revolution, it will be left behind. SAP’s public sector is ready to help you reimagine your agency for the new age.
Learn more about digital transformation for the public sector here.