Digital public services are becoming a reality for citizens in many different countries. To harness the power of digitization, governments across the world are on a spree to leverage digital tools and virtual platforms to automate the delivery of public services.
For instance, the European Commission has set 2030 as the target to achieve complete digitalization of key public services.
From helping save costs and time to enhancing the efficiency of processes, digital services offer a plethora of benefits to governments as well as citizens. In this article, we have listed the top benefits and essential aspects of digitalizing public service delivery.
What are digital public services?
Digital public services refer to the process of offering government services and information to citizens through virtual platforms, IT systems, and software apps. They help streamline interaction between public institutions and citizens across the internet. Such an engagement helps enhance the efficiency and transparency in delivering public services.
Examples of digital public services include filing tax returns, filling out an online form for renewing a driver's license, applying for new land registration online, and more, through the virtual medium.
We can see more and more countries making it a priority to digitalize public services. For example, Germany has issued an OZG, a law that obligates public service providers throughout the country to offer their services digitally by the end of 2022.
How do digital public services benefit citizens and governments?
From enhancing the transparency and accessibility of public services to improving the efficiency of government functioning, digital public services offer a plethora of benefits, including:
1. Easier access to public services
Digitalizing the public services sector enhances the accessibility of data and information to the citizens. For instance, digitalizing tax payment systems helps people file information and pay taxes remotely from anywhere.
With digitalization, people can access information, submit documents, and complete the processes without paying a physical visit to government offices.
To support citizens even further, governments can introduce a chat functionality to assist citizens using digital public services system.
2. Increased equity and public participation
Digital public services strengthen public participation in the government’s decision-making. Government institutions get an opportunity to consult people through various platforms like social media or mobile applications. Digitalization facilitates co-creation opportunities that governments can leverage to put forth innovative solutions to complex problems.
For instance, in countries like Australia and Ireland, governments seek citizen input and consultations on apportioning the public budget.
Several countries also organize hackathons and open innovation initiatives to find solutions to the social, health, and technological that emerged during the pandemic.
3. Increased transparency and trust in government
Digital public services help enhance transparency in the process. It holds the public servants and citizens accountable for their actions.
A McKinsey study shows that people who are satisfied with public services are nine times more likely to trust the government.
For instance, biometric technology helps identify citizens by scanning their iris or fingerprints. This improves the accuracy and transparency of public transactions.
Moreover, people gain access to public information like reports, policies, and real-time data. Government departments leverage intelligence and visualization tools to present the data and information in an easy-to-perceive format.
This is how digitalization strengthens transparency and people’s trust in public services.
4. Automation and increased efficiency
Digitalization in public services helps automate several steps in the process. With digital platforms, searching the records and updating them takes only a few clicks. They eliminate the need for manual data entry, streamline service flow, and automate repetitive tasks.
Studies show that digitalizing public services and automating the process saves around 60% of the effort.
Also, digital technologies allow public institutions to collect data and information from the public, which in turn promotes informed decision making. Government departments can also evaluate the effectiveness of their functioning and devise data-driven strategies to enhance their efficiency and productivity.
5. Reduced administrative costs
As technologies take over repetitive, laborious tasks like data entry and record-keeping, there is a significant reduction in the paperwork involved.
Self-service portals allow citizens to feed in data and complete a major chunk of administrative tasks independently. This reduces the staffing needs and allows public servants to focus on critical tasks that demand human intelligence.
With digital technologies, a majority of tasks can be performed online, which minimizes the need for physical space and utilities. In other words,
digital public services help reduce administrative costs associated with manual processes, paper transactions, and physical infrastructure.
6. Promote personalization of services
Digital portals allow citizens and businesses to create exclusive user accounts through which they feed preferences, demographic information, and more. This helps governments personalize the offering and mode of service delivery to their citizens.
For instance, when a new business user signs up, portals may navigate him through the nuances of registration, loans and other financing options. If women own it, portals may suggest possible grant options available for women-run businesses.
At the end of the year, tax portals can be used to dish out automated notifications and notices to businesses that have not filed taxes within the deadline.
7. Continuous improvement of services
Finally, digitalization offers enhanced access to citizen and administrative data. It also allows the government to seek feedback and input on the service quality. This helps identify the challenges and bottlenecks involved and work out strategies to address the gaps in the process.
Key aspects of digital public services
While you are now aware of the benefits of digitalization in public services, the following are some of the key aspects you must know.
1. Digital citizen identity
A notable aspect of digitalization in public services is building a secure citizen identity, which helps authenticate an individual’s representation within the government’s ecosystem.
With a wide range of authorization options like biometrics and smart cards, governments offer secure digital identities like national IDs, driver permits, and more.
Digital technologies help substantiate citizens' interactions with the government.
2. Data sharing
Digital technologies help governments leverage citizens' data to understand their needs and enhance the delivery of public services. Data sharing also promotes collaboration between government departments while addressing complex problems.
Having access to real-time data improves the effectiveness of government decisions. However, it's extremely important to ensure data security, as citizen data succumbs to data privacy regulations like GDPR and is highly sensitive.
That's the reason why many government institutions choose to deploy on-prem software, making them fully in control of their data.
3. Service portals
Digitalization in the public sector allows citizens to access government services using different portals. Governments maintain exclusive user-friendly portals for different services like health, education, tax filing, permits and licenses, social services, employment, and more.
Such self-service portals help citizens interact with government institutions, seek services, and access related information. For instance, health portals allow citizens to access their medical records, view health-related resources, or seek appointments.
To set up and connect the system more easily, many IT professionals in the government sector prefer open source software. It's is also supported by the EU's Open Source Strategy, which says that
government institutions should leverage the distinct benefits of open source technologies to drive better services for European citizens at a lower cost.
4. Collaboration platform
Digital platforms serve as a point of collaboration between different public departments and help share documents, information, and data. They also encourage citizens' participation in the process. Digital service portals carry messaging and chat abilities that promote real-time exchanges between government and citizens.
Supporting citizens to access and use digital public services
Digitalizing public services has many advantages, but it also presents a challenge for the users. Citizens might not have experience with digital products, and chances are that such a complex system won't be the easiest to navigate.
Governments can implement a chat functionality within their digital public services portfolio to better support citizens in accessing and using the digital public services. At Rocket.Chat, we've developed a highly customizable chat with government organizations and public sector in mind. Built on open source technology, it's extremely flexible and adaptable to different use cases and infrastructures.
The chat can be deployed on-premise, giving organizations full control over their data and strengthening government cybersecurity. Rocket.Chat has been listed as a preferred collaboration platform for the public sector by the Swedish Government.
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