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When thinking about technology, you might start thinking about high-tech devices that use top-of-the-shelf components and require massive investments. In some industries, technology might not be incredibly developed, but it sure is indispensable and useful.
The public sector has made great use of technology to answer the digital needs of citizens. Governments are also experiencing an era of hyper-automation and require technology to keep up with their ambitions.
Let’s look at what the public sector is, why technology matters to this industry, and how the sector uses it.
In short, the public sector is the part of an economy that is controlled or owned by the government. 2020 has been a huge test for the public sector as it demonstrated the importance of flexibility and resilience. Most governments and their economies had to quickly pivot, break down barriers, share information, and continue to deliver services to their citizens.
Technology for most countries has been the foundation stone of this achievement. Forward-thinking governments and agencies understood the importance of digital solutions that could help deliver benefits to citizens, even during that rough period.
Remote working technology, IT modernization, and cyber security all became vital as the world moved online. Research shows that 60% of U.S. government officials felt the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in their organization. As many were forced to learn how to use online digital tools, technology grew even more important in this past year.
Let’s now take a look at the reasons why technology became such an important factor.
As most of the public sector’s work is done online or on a database, accessibility is key. As files became digital, the goal was for employees to access their files wherever they were. Nowadays, most of the paperwork needed can be found online and sent online.
This trend facilitates both the work of the citizen who can easily access the files they need, wherever and whenever they want, and for public workers that no longer have to deliver and review paperwork all day.
This trend made all the difference in the 2020 crisis as countries that could handle online requests stayed somewhat operational.
As most people now use the digital world regularly and with ease, they expect governments to provide the same services as the usual websites they visit. This can prove quite challenging as governments have to provide a working, secure, scalable solution for their country, with a very limited budget.
The expectation is largely responsible for the development of technology in the public sector, as businesses adopt technology, governments have to keep up with the pace of innovation and deliver the same or even better services.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated another aspect of technology, automation. It forced government organizations towards remote, digital-first business models. Most of the solutions relied on some form of automation in combination with a remote worker.
This last trend relies heavily on technology, both on some hardware that provides the means to automate certain tasks and on the software that makes use of these resources.
Lastly, as governments face cyberattacks daily from neighboring countries and curious civilians, another large part of the sector is in cyber security. Technology helps create prevention systems that prevent any intrusion by looking at the ongoing traffic. Technology also helps respond to an attack, by recovering files and eliminating the threat.
As a government, it’s also your responsibility to protect your population by warning them of potential attacks. Governments, therefore, use technology to protect their businesses.
As we’ve previously seen, the public sector relies on technology for its efficiency and performance. These trends use certain types of technology that we’ll look at in this section.
As the new wave of communication technology arises, it’s both the responsibility of telecommunication operators and governments to introduce the technology to the population. Governments around the world have spent a lot of resources to introduce 5G networks.
The goal is to make the country's architecture more reliable by being able to handle more traffic and provide faster data transfers. The introduction of this technology has, however, been quite difficult as costs are high and most people don’t need extremely fast broadband connections, 4G does the job well.
The technology does provide some interesting aspects as very low latencies, this means that delays are very short, things happen almost in real-time. Governments try to introduce the technology to pursue the above trends of accessibility, security, automation, and to keep up with the population’s expectations.
An extremely important technology for governments is Artificial intelligence. As governments handle extremely large amounts of data, they benefit from understanding what data they’re manipulating. This can help them to be more efficient.
Cyber security for example relies on AI. The data that transits through the system is analyzed and checked to see whether or not it resembles what usually passes on the network. If a piece of information stands out or has a shape that was previously flagged as suspicious. Governments or companies can take a closer look at what it contains.
This helps governments understand the needs of their population to create services that match.
As countries grow in size, handling vast amounts of data quickly becomes a hassle, technology provides a way for the public sector to automate some of its systems. They also benefit from technology by being able to remotely access information and make it secure. Governments achieve this by introducing new technologies like 5G to their population. AI provides a way for the public sector to optimize its processes, and make its network more secure.