Emerging technology in government

Recently I looked at a new report from the OECD that examined some fascinating government led innovations from around the world, together with some of the key challenges faced when attempting to innovate within government.

A second report has been published in conjunction with this that looks at emerging technologies deployed in government today.  The paper analyzes 29 different technologies pooled from a number of core categories, including artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, robotics & space and smart platforms.  In total, there are over 70 different case studies from 32 different countries.

Each case study examined for the paper was analyzed according to five criteria:

  • sustainability, in terms of social, economic and environmental factors
  • readiness, and the ability to bring the innovation to market
  • replicability & scalability, and especially the ability of other governments to implement innovative solutions
  • innovation, and the scale of the disruption caused
  • impact, and the ability of the innovation to change public services

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The case studies are interesting, and unique to those covered in the OECD paper referenced at the start of this post.  For instance, they highlight an interesting AI based data center used in natural disaster situations.

Or you have the Dutch system that uses AI to automatically mine medical records for signs of potential child abuse.  It’s especially valuable as it can perform well on unstructured and free text data that often forms the bulk of notes surrounding children.

The report is interesting, both for the fascinating case studies it highlights, but also the reminder it provides that technology should be used for ethical ends.

“Although this transformation can be beneficial and even necessary, it faces an important risk: empowering an istrument into a goal itself. Technology without an ethical and moral horizon is empty just as ethical and moral  values would fail without a wise application of technology,” the authors say.

They advocate the concept of Smart Aware Communities in order to achieve this, with such institutions providing:

  • Wise governance to enable new forms of e-government, evidence based decision making and better service delivery.
  • A smart economy that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • Smart transport systems to support efficient, inter-operable public transport.
  • A healthier environment that operates via green energy and excellent water management.
  • Smart living that improves the quality, safety and security of life for all.
  • Smart citizens, who are informed and enabled to participate in the government process.

There is a strong movement at the moment to try and make government better, and this report is a worthy addition to the literature on the topic.



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