As citizens we don’t have a choice about dealing with the state — it provides the services no one else will, or can! So how is the “smarter state” relevant to us as citizens of the state? What are the benefits and what are the challenges?

How long you have to wait for your hospital appointment, how big your children’s class is — these are among the many daily experiences that can benefit from smart, effective government or suffer from a lack of resources. Here in the UK, under the austerity measures still in place, this situation has and will get worse without some radical changes. Population growth and demand on resources is going one way, while funding and spending is going the other. That means unless the government comes up with more efficient ways of providing the services, the quality and speed with which they can be delivered will continue to degrade over time.

Enter the Smart State

The creation of a smarter state will improve all of our lives significantly, while reducing the cost of delivering the services we as citizens need. The use of technology is key to the creation of a smarter state, as it provides the ability to link the disparate sources of information which is key to helping the state make its assets smart. Tony Blair introduced the e-Government agenda at the start of the millennium, and over the last 20 years there have been great strides made in the use and attitude towards innovation and technology by the public sector. Unfortunately, there have also been some massive failures that wasted billions of pounds.

Over the last few years there have been some massive leaps forward in technology (think of how smart phones have changed your life…), and this will continue moving forward with the advent of 5G over the next few years. Many new “smart” services will be created and deployed, most relying on the efficient and real-time movement of event-driven information between not only applications but also smart appliances, autonomous vehicles, industrial control systems, sensor arrays and countless other devices that produce and can react to real-time information and instructions.

Smart state initiatives will reduce the costs associated with the delivery of government services, give us easier access to services, and enable a holistic view of every interaction we have with the state. If we were starting today with this goal in mind it would be relatively easy, but achieving this level of connectivity is remarkably difficult due to many decades worth of legacy systems and processes. The creation and success of the smarter state depends on the real-time movement of data between these systems and more modern cloud-based applications and IoT devices.

The coming wave of technology advancement, including things like 5G, drones, autonomous vehicles, the IoT and smart everything, is going to totally change the game for the public sector over the next two decades. For example:

  • Drone deliveries for prescriptions, home health care and other services will significantly reduce the cost of service delivery.
  • Reduced congestion through smart traffic routing will save time and deliver significant reductions in pollution and congestion.
  • Efficient power consumption across smart electricity grids will help to reduce energy use and will provide environmental benefits to us all.
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning will save us time and money, and increase the speed of processing and research, which will speed up the delivery of new services and capabilities.
  • For our security services, the speed of being able to identify someone as being a threat is critical, and this requires real-time data movement and links to multiple systems and organisations.

The Importance of Event-Driven

If you consider each of the above points, the key underlying requirement for all of these trends is the event-driven distribution of data. Due to the complex, disparate nature of government, and the technological legacy of the last few decades, information is often stuck in one place and incapable of being shared. This limits the value the data can have. Decoupling the tightly integrated applications that collect this data, and allowing it to be accessed in real-time by other departments, research organisations and other 3rd parties will create huge benefits.

Solace PubSub+ Platform helps government agencies securely stream all kinds of events between countless applications, devices and user interfaces across diverse cloud, datacenter and IoT environments. This helps these agencies unlock information and become more integrated and real-time so they can create and deliver more personalized, responsive services to their citizens.

Conclusion

The growth of new technological capabilities and connected devices over the next few years will empower a wave of innovation that spans society as a whole, and which the government will be forced to play leading roles as legislator and scrutinizer (and in a key delivery role as the state starts to become smarter). Delivering the smarter state is a huge task, but the benefits to all of us are potentially enormous and span all aspects of our touch points with government and the services that it provides. It is in our best interest for governments to seize these opportunities.

Mike Hayward

Mike Hayward is an account director with Solace, based in the UK. Prior to Solace he worked for Dell Technologies and Huddle, where he was the head of public sector for all of EMEA.