As we journey through the 21st century, the swift and relentless tide of technological innovation has not only left a permanent imprint on the business landscape but has also begun to transform the public sector across the globe. This transformation has given rise to a burgeoning ecosystem known as Government Technology, or ‘GovTech’ for short. In this article, we aim to explore the international GovTech scene, shedding light on what makes a use case ripe for automation and sharing success stories from around the world.
Understanding the GovTech Landscape
GovTech, at its core, is the use of technology to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public sector operations. This broad definition encompasses a huge range of applications, from automating administrative tasks to harnessing big data for policymaking. The primary beneficiaries of GovTech are the public sector, citizens and private sector stakeholders such as technology firms and start-ups.
For the public sector, the allure of GovTech lies in its potential to reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve service delivery. Automation, in particular, offers a pathway to streamlining cumbersome and time-consuming processes, freeing up public servants to focus on strategic and complex tasks.
Citizens, on the other hand, stand to gain from more responsive, personalised and timely services. Automated systems can provide round-the-clock service, reducing waiting times and improving satisfaction. Moreover, GovTech can foster greater transparency and accountability, empowering citizens to engage with their governments in more meaningful ways.
Private sector stakeholders, especially those involved in developing GovTech solutions, see immense potential in this nascent market. GovTech presents a unique opportunity to contribute to public good while also tapping into a market that, according to a 2020 report by the GovTech Alliance, is projected to be worth over £400 billion globally by 2025.
Identifying Opportunities for Automation in GovTech
When considering which public sector use cases are most appropriate for automation, there are a few key factors to bear in mind. Firstly, tasks that are repetitive, rule-based and high volume are prime candidates. These could include data entry, form processing and routine customer service queries.
Secondly, areas where human error could have serious implications, such as in healthcare or law enforcement, could significantly benefit from automation. The consistent performance of machines can help minimise mistakes and enhance the reliability of services.
Finally, automation can bring substantial value in areas where speed and round-the-clock service are of critical importance. For instance, automating emergency response communications could potentially save lives by ensuring immediate attention to critical incidents.
Global Success Stories
Now, let’s take a virtual tour around the world to highlight some standout examples of GovTech in action.
In Singapore, the government’s ‘Smart Nation’ initiative is leading the way in digital innovation. One standout project is the National Digital Identity (NDI) system, which provides a secure, centralised identity verification service for citizens interacting with public and private sector services online. This has streamlined numerous processes, from online banking to tax filing.
Meanwhile, Estonia has become a digital pioneer with its ‘e-Estonia’ initiative, which has digitised 99% of public services. An example of this is the e-Residency program, allowing global citizens to start and manage businesses in Estonia digitally, enhancing ease of doing business and boosting the local economy.
Or perhaps Sweden where the state-owned national railway is conducting the world’s first NFC payment trial using microchips embedded in its customers’ hands! This technology allows passengers to pay for their tickets using a biometric chip placed under their skin.
Perhaps travel to the UAE’s Smart Dubai Office where they are developing a blockchain-based digital transaction platform for the entire city government, aiming to remove 100 million official documents from its processes. The project is currently pilot testing more than 20 blockchain use cases in areas such as health, education, transportation, and energy.
In Australia, the New South Wales government launched ‘Service NSW’, a one-stop-shop for government services, handling everything from vehicle registration to fishing licenses. By centralising these services, the government has significantly improved citizen experience and operational efficiency.
A Call to Action for Scotland’s Businesses
The international GovTech scene is vibrant and diverse and there are countless opportunities for Scottish businesses to contribute. Whether you
are already innovating in this space or have a product roadmap you’d like to explore further, now is the perfect time to engage.
Take inspiration from the CivTech programme, an initiative by the Scottish Government that is bridging the gap between the public, private and third sectors. This programme takes real problems faced by government departments, public sector organisations and charities and invites anyone with a brilliant idea to work hand-in-hand to create the solution. At the heart of the programme is a 15-week Accelerator, where innovative and ambitious teams are paid to build working prototypes and receive a vast amount of business growth support.
This represents an unprecedented route for innovators, entrepreneurs, start-ups, or established businesses to develop products that the public sector needs. With problems framed as open challenges, the application process is straightforward and procurement is streamlined. It provides a swift, secure and proven pathway to win public sector contracts, solve a problem, improve people’s lives, gain a blue-chip client and grow your business.
For public sector organisations, navigating procurement routes and finding the best solution can be incredibly difficult. CivTech offers a great way to engage with tech and innovation possibilities in a collaborative and cost-effective environment. It provides the freedom to experiment safely and swiftly co-produce the solution your organisation needs. It’s the chance to solve a problem through innovation in a speedy, efficient and safe environment.
We hope that these insights into the global GovTech scene have inspired you and illuminated the vast potential that this sector holds. Now is the time for Scottish businesses to seize these opportunities and help shape the future of public service delivery. Whether you’re an early-stage start-up with a game-changing idea or an established company with a robust product roadmap, we want to hear from you. Together, we can drive the GovTech revolution and make Scotland a better place.
In the immortal words of George Bernard Shaw, “Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Let’s embrace change and progress together, transforming public sector services for the benefit of all.
If you’re ready to discuss your ideas or explore potential collaborations, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. The future of GovTech is in our hands and we look forward to shaping it with you.