The AI-driven tidal wave of digital innovations is coursing through all aspects of human endeavor. Every industry now relies on automated processes to handle all aspects of its operations, and governance is not exempt.
Over the past decade, digitization has become prominent as more e-governance platforms come to the fore. Visa processing, e-passports, online voting, and other virtual solutions are now accessible via the internet.
In public healthcare, initiatives like vaccine passports and contact tracer apps for international travel are already in the works, as nations are still deliberating on the viability and necessity of such services.
And with the COVID-related changes still in full swing, the shift to contactless governance is expected to shape e-government trends in the near future.
This article explores relevant e-government trends in 2021. We’ll also highlight the necessity of these virtual governance platforms in today’s world. Read on to discover our experience in e-government development.
The e-governance outlook in 2021
The public sector has always lagged in innovation because of many factors, chief of which is legacy systems. But the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the implementation of modern technological infrastructures to handle the current socio-cultural landscape.
Here are some ways governments will implement these trends in 2021:
Prioritize adaptive data privacy
New government technologies will focus on protecting data and identifying incoming security threats. Governments will have to switch their vulnerable legacy infrastructure to adaptive processes that are capable of detecting loopholes and mitigating the impacts of potential attacks.
Create pathways to digital citizenship and e-democracy
A digital citizen is an individual that is recognized as a physical entity across all online government channels. And through this digital citizenship, the concept of e-democracy will spread across nations due to openness and transparency in government operations.
Emphasize cloud-based services
Governments will shift their focus to cloud-based services in line with efforts to modernize underperforming and vulnerable legacy systems. We will also witness an increase of XaaS (Anything-as-a-Service) strategies in e-governance.
Establish multichannel electorate participation
Since the pandemic decreased people’s access to public services, governments had to digitize these sectors to keep in touch with citizens. Following this growing e-governance trend, nations will use multiple communication channels to increase engagement with constituents.
Invest in extensive data analysis
With the prominence of digital solutions, governments will need to invest in more data initiatives. Countries will also introduce advanced analytics to make all activities efficient, uniform, and citizen-oriented.
Key considerations when adopting e-governance today
With a better understanding of government trends in 2021, let’s explore things to consider for e-governance platforms moving forward.
According to Forbes, 90% of healthcare institutions suffered at least one form of cyber attack in 2020, mostly in the form of ransomware. The US Trade Commission also recorded over 1 million reports of identity theft.
Similarly, reports from UK government agencies claim that over 90% of their digital frameworks came under attacks from internal and external forces. And most worryingly, the projected financial losses from cyberattacks will reach 10.5 trillion USD by 2025.
As a result, investing in cybersecurity frameworks is the only way a country can protect itself from mass attacks on infrastructure and the citizenry. Some countries even dedicate independent security intelligence to repel organized hacks on public sectors. Most vitally, public awareness campaigns on cybercrime can prepare private citizens and public employees for potential hacks.
In this era of soaring political tensions, every nation should invest in digitizing military infrastructure to meet the current demands. This strategy will create a centralized (or decentralized) network capable of monitoring and mobilizing fast-response machinery like UAV drones.
But with the digitization of military assets comes the risk of cyberwarfare. A short line of a malware-bearing code can render a country’s military infrastructure defunct. The Stuxnet attack on Iran’s nuclear strategy highlights the potency of such cyber weapons.
Therefore, safeguarding attack-prone military assets like F-35 jets, UAVs, and satellites should be prioritized.
According to the World Bank, the 2020 economic recession will extend into 2021. However, experts predict that this downturn will be short-lived as far as the global lockdowns don’t continue into 2022. Countries with digitized, robust financial systems are expected to bounce back.
On the flip side, developing economies in South America, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa will suffer massive financial setbacks. Eventually, so many currencies will be devalued in the face of exponential inflation.
To address this looming socio-economic apocalypse, governments are looking towards blockchain technology for business regulation and bank operations. The UAE, Venezuela, and China are exploring investments in blockchain technology.
Besides, the current ‘crypto craze’ has forced nations to invest in Bitcoin or start mining their own cryptocurrencies like the Chinese Digital Yuan. In Venezuela, the country’s embattled economy uses cryptocurrency to sustain the economy.
Alternatively, nations like Zimbabwe with an anti-crypto stance have plunged into debt. This downward spiral further highlights the importance of blockchain technology in governance.
Multichannel citizen engagement
With the rise of the digital citizen, governments need to expand their communication channels beyond traditional media. E-government efforts will implement social media, chatbots, and augmented reality to create awareness about policies and programs.
An example of such initiatives is the public safety feature on Apple devices. Citizens can activate this service on their devices to receive amber alerts and imminent threat warnings.
Modern megalopolises like Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Stockholm have transformed into smart cities over the past decade. These towns have smart grids with renewable energy sources like solar and wind.
The improvement of living standards in established smart cities is enough encouragement for other countries to follow this blueprint. Currently, the UAE is working on the Smart Dubai project that will transform the economic and cultural hub into a smart city by 2030.
Essentially, any country interested in improving living standards must adopt a smart city initiative in the public sector.
Some areas of the public sector ground to a halt during the initial global lockdown. The US Postal Services felt the brunt of this halt in operations as packages were backlogged in storage. Consequently, the government had to introduce AI-powered solutions to enhance operations.
AI solutions can also improve workforce efficiency by replacing manual processes. Besides, these modernized e-government frameworks will minimize corruption in the government sector. Ultimately, adopting artificial intelligence can help nations generate more revenue while improving the efficiency of the global workforce.
However, AI detractors believe that this technology poses a significant threat to humans. The consensus is that AI-powered processes will push workers out of the labor force by rendering them irrelevant.
In essence, governments would also have to develop special programs to address the potential AI-induced unemployment rates.
One of the blossoming e-government trends at the moment is e-voting. The most famous example is the i-Voting platform under the e-Estonia project. Since its inception in 2005, the system has been used by over 44% of the population in elections.
But despite positive reviews from the tech world, countries don’t seem to be in a rush to implement e-voting. In fact, Switzerland has abandoned its online voting system due to irregularities.
Governments are also reluctant to implement EVMs because they are prone to external proxy and server-side attacks. Incompetence from the regulators can also jeopardize the entire system.
For example, connecting the system to an open WIFI network can allow hackers access. Also, corrupted USB devices can introduce malware or spyware into the e-voting framework.
In densely-populated countries like the USA, India, and Russia, centralizing such infrastructure costs a lot of money. Most importantly, the citizenry is reluctant about the integrity of the platforms.
With all that said, 2020 turned everything on its head. Countries are now encouraged to explore online voting options. But first, governments would have to update their entire infrastructure to repel hackers and unauthorized access to sensitive data.
This rapid change in mentality will increase investments in blockchain and AI over the coming years. Ultimately, the new era of e-democracy beckons.
Space race 2.0
A new space race is currently brewing between Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Boeing. As it stands, SpaceX is leading the charge. Although we enjoy the idea of private citizens going to Mars, this era of privatization poses a threat to government agencies like NASA that used to monopolize space exploration.
As the race heats up, government agencies might have to choose sides or impose regulations on issues like low-Earth orbit and space tourism.
Furthermore, the climate will feel the long-term impacts of an unregulated space race. In an interview with Salon, Avi Loeb, a theoretical physicist, expressed concerns about the carbon footprint of SpaceX and other related projects. He also highlighted that “the brightness of SpaceX-s satellite” would disrupt space observation.
Redwerk experience with e-governance platforms
In line with our dedication to effective and transparent governance, we always monitor e-government trends. Our team has also contributed to the development of several e-government solutions in the public sector of countries like Germany, Belgium, Italy, and the United States.
Our latest project was the upgrading of the EUREL EUGI platform for voting in the European Parliament. The scope of our contribution covered the migration of a (legacy) JBoss application to Spring/Tomcat.
Other e-government projects we’ve worked on include:
City Council is an e-government solution for decision-making in city councils. We partnered with Green Valley for this project. While working on this project, the main challenge was to help Green Valley develop a module that tracked project milestones and eventual implementation. To address this challenge, we integrated modules to monitor attendance and voting as well as curate workflows and PDF/A publications. We also worked on the iReport Green Valley CMS plugin to request and report data.
This platform provides updates from city services, job listings, and proposal solicitations. This project’s main challenge was to create a program with robust architecture capable of aggregating data from multiple civic, licensing, and transportation services. Our solution to the problem was to develop a backend module to crawl city-owned websites for data collection. This information is then stored in databases for instant retrieval.
ProZorro is an electronic module used for tender procurement. This platform caters to municipal institutions and enterprises. The primary challenge our team faced when preparing the specification for a ProZorro-based solution was outlining the constraints based on budget, deadlines, and technical capability. To this effect, we suggested an advanced but easy-to-use UI/UX design for the e-procurement platform users.
Web Intake is a service that allows citizens to submit permission requests for property upkeep and address updates. Government personnel can also review and grant these requests on the same platform. The main challenge we faced during this project was to create a system that met all government regulations while providing a secure dashboard for processing requests. In a collaborative partnership with Green Valley, our Redwerk team implemented, documented, tested, and prepared a foolproof and simple installation package for Green Valley’s field engineers.
The Current app is a workflow management application that helps government agencies to improve operational efficiency and customer service. Our biggest challenge while working on the app was creating a customizable product with robust functionality that meets the standards of government agencies in the USA. During our collaboration with the C!A team, we developed a powerful web app for processing citizens’ requests within a range of state-administered programs in the USA.
In this tech transformation era, e-governance relies on advanced technology to meet citizens’ demands. Public infrastructure running on legacy systems needs to be refurbished to prevent attacks. In the same vein, cybersecurity should remain a priority to protect a country’s military and social assets from cyberwarfare.
Also, failing economies can rely on blockchain technology to revitalize their currency. By following the blueprint laid out by countries like Estonia, nations can embrace e-governance and improve the efficiency of the public workforce. And most importantly, e-government fosters transparency and democracy.
At Redwerk, we are always excited to work on e-governance solutions and usher in the new era of digital democracy.