Digital Tools Allow Public Sector To Use Data To Drive Decisions, Better Serve Public

Brian Roach

Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a vibrant city. There are 13 million residents and 2,000 square miles of infrastructure to keep secure.

The city’s Environment and Public Space Ministry manages maintenance and repairs in the city. Ministry staff struggled to manage the mountains of paper related to service requests. Workers had a hard time prioritizing repairs and improvements.

But the city recently shifted to a centralized digital platform. Using the platform, ministry employees today can collect, track, and prioritize needed work quickly. Information comes via mobile apps from teams of inspectors, sensors, and citizens. Ministry employees can assess and address problem areas in real-time. Contractors are notified immediately. Potholes are filled faster. Permits are processed more quickly.

Frictionless government

Buenos Aires is just one example of how governments can leverage new technology to improve business processes.

In doing so, governments are improving the quality of life and outcomes for residents worldwide.

Governments are complex organizations. Different departments and agencies collect data and deal with the public in varied ways. Often systems and processes vary a great deal and are not interconnected.

These complexities often create bureaucratic delays. Staff members are buried in paperwork and can only focus on immediate issues. Without a centralized capability to access and analyze data it is difficult to collect and analyze data. A lack of quality information hinders decision-making.

Citizens expect their governments to be responsive and effective. Digital transformation is occurring in their personal and business lives. Why shouldn’t their interactions with elected and appointed officials offer the same digital advantages?

Improving data collection and management of core business processes lets governments serve citizens better.

Digital world

In today’s world, digital innovation is everywhere. Social media allows people to connect worldwide, call people to action, and share information. Connected devices can measure, record, and send information. Sensors on assets constantly collect data. These large data sets contain treasure troves of untapped knowledge. Governments have a powerful opportunity to access this data better. Big Data technology, cloud and in-memory computing, as well as predictive and user-friendly analytics are combining to help government analyze vast amounts of information in real time. Information is interpreted faster, providing better insights to drive decision-making.

Data can be used to learn, simulate, and predict problems and solutions. Data from many sources is analyzed faster than ever.

Disparate data sets coming in different formats can be contextualized and interpreted leading to better outcomes.

In-memory computing gives officials better and more accurate information to predict and solve problems. This ability is crucial in crisis situations such as natural disasters or public security situations.

Big Data and analytics programs are also effective as evaluation tools. By interpreting large data sets, government agencies can learn about the impact of stimulus programs, public health initiatives, and social issues.

The impact in Buenos Aires

Urban maintenance is a major issue for the ministry, but with a new centralized platform, employees can be far more responsive.

Requests for service today come from citizens, businesses, and organizations in many forms: email, phone, Internet, and mobile apps. The ministry can deploy more than 150,000 contractors to respond to requests.

Inspectors today detect 150,000 failures in infrastructure each year. Citizens report another 190,000 claims. With intelligent dashboards, employees can keep track of tasks in real time. Workflows are managed, data analyzed, and information delivered to the right department.

City officials initially launched the platform to manage construction permits and repairs to public spaces. Today the system manages maintenance to streets, sidewalks, streetlights, trees, and green areas.

Buenos Aires developed a mobile app that lets inspectors enter information onsite. When a pothole, broken lamp, or water pipe is reported, a contractor is notified faster. With faster repairs come an improved quality of life for residents and visitors.

The mobile app is also used for store and event inspections. Permits can be issued on the spot.

Paper and manual process

The city also suffered from mounds of paper. There was no system to prioritize work or schedule contractors.

Word processing and spreadsheet programs were not enough. Too many processes were manual, further slowing progress.

The ministry spent a year looking at processes across multiple departments. Specific processes were identified and prioritized for improvement.

The city began with improvements to permitting for roadways and sidewalks. The next phase moved service requests to a call center. Eventually departments responsible for lighting, sewer systems, and shelters were brought into the system.

Positive impacts

The impact of all these improvements has been significant. Complaints and claims are addressed in days, not weeks or months. Logjams are identified sooner, allowing staff to shift resources to solve the issues.

Sensors are now embedded in storm drains. Data from the sensors lets officials know if drains and streets are clear. The city is better prepared to handle heavy storms.

Officials estimate the improvements have doubled the ministry’s productivity. Within three years, all ministry departments were integrated into the new platform.


By using data in different ways, governments can have a profound positive impact. More data, analyzed quickly, leads to better decisions. Employees are more productive and citizens are better served.

Read about more about SAP’s perspective on Digital Government here.

Brian Roach

About Brian Roach

Brian Roach leads the Regulated Industries practice in the United States for SAP, which encompasses federal, state, and local government, as well as the higher education, aerospace & defense, healthcare, and utilities industries. He is responsible for leading strategy, business operations, customer relationships, and overall customer satisfaction.