Government’s today don’t have to be tarred with the laggard-technology brush especially with the latest developments in technology that are at the tips of our fingers.
Producing a smarter and more agile form of government through the introduction of digital services is the new black in the global space of public administration.
No country that seeks to simplify the connection between individuals, business and government can ignore the resounding benefits of technology and innovation in the delivery of government services. But it seems as though one of the biggest challenges facing governments today is moving from concept to government as a platform.
Governments are increasingly moving away from archaic ways of delivering services, but it's also important to remember there really are no quick fixes to digital services. For example, if your agency has a fillable PDF online that’s intended as an application form, ask whether or not the PDF can be accessed on a variety of browsers other than Internet Explorer.
If you answered no to the above question this post is for you. Let’s take a look at two projects implemented by different governments to see how digital transformation is impacting service delivery as well as the lives of citizens.
The United States and how they made digital services easier to access for veterans
The United States isn’t only great at winning gold medals, it’s also one of the leading countries when it comes to transforming digital services.
It’s been two years since the development of the U.S Digital Service, and to mark this occasion the White House released an impact report on the most transformative government services being undertaken by the Obama administration.
The interesting developments in the US haven’t necessarily been the biggest and flashiest, but they’ve put the most resources where they are most needed.
One of the biggest challenges in many countries is providing enough support to veterans. The US has implemented a variety of improvements to their service delivery for veterans so it’s easy for them to access, and in this case it was a matter of transforming critical services so that those who have the most trouble accessing them can easily interact with government.
The first hurdle was making it easier for veterans to access healthcare. Previously the US government found that only 10% of applicants could successfully submit the online PDF that was required by veterans to apply for health care services.
To tackle this, the government created an online application service that so far more than 11,600 veterans have used because of how simple and easy the process is to complete.
Take a look at the above image, it’s clear to see that the site is easy to navigate; it has as little text as possible, and the eye-catching green call-to-action button makes it almost impossible to miss understand the application process.
Although this was a milestone in offering support to veterans, they didn’t stop there. The US also streamlined Veterans Affairs disability compensation processing, and unified the digital experience for veterans by creating the one-stop-show vets.gov.
You can read more about other US digital projects in their Impact Report available here.
Service NSW digitises its payment system
Breaking new ground, Service NSW has launched an integration with Google’s Android Pay; a mobile wallet that can store credit cards, debit cards and loyalty cards on compatible Android smartphones. The service is available to customers who bank with a growing number of participating banks and credit unions.
Customers will soon be able to use the app to pay for government services at any Service NSW centre in the state. This will be the first time the platform is used outside of the retail scene, so it’s an exciting time for NSW residents.
The Minister stated that Android Pay was introduced due to the popularity of smartphones, stating:
"Around 90 percent of people now have a mobile phone, and with the popularity of Android phones, it makes sense for us to provide this quick, efficient option for our customers."
Service NSW is ahead of the curve with this initiative as they are now the first government to tap into this technology as a great way to collect payments. The infrastructure behind the project has also been built to transaction data that can then feed back into the open data strategy of the Digital Transformation Office.
Other customers of Android Pay include 7-Eleven, Coles Express, Coles Supermarkets, Domino’s Pizza, Donut King and MacDonold’s, and they are still only a handful of businesses that have chosen to use the platform in Australia.
Perottet acknowledges that governments normally lag behind new technology developments, whereas customers usually are quick to adopt time-saving and convenient ways of doing things. If a customer can easily tap-and-go, then this is something all governments should consider offering. Perottet states:
"With Service NSW, we are completely changing that -- becoming fast followers -- so that our customer service keeps pace with the options people want."
Although for now Android Pay supports American Express, Macquarie Bank, MyState, Teachers Mutual Bank and ANZ, this project will open the way for other payment systems such as PayPal, Apple Pay and Visa Payments.
For the moment customers will have to turn up to a Service NSW counter to be able to utilise the new payment system, but eventually the agency will open it up to its online portal and app.
The more government departments revolutionise service delivery, the more governments will be able to cast aside the notion of government being inflexible.
Although we looked at two particularly great examples of digital service transformation, there are still many developments across the globe that are noteworthy.
Most recently the Singapore Government went into partnership with PayPal to help support SME utilise advances in financial technology. Eventually this partnership should transform the whole economy by supporting new and emerging payment systems.
We can learn from countries like the US as they’ve focused their initiatives heavily on those who struggle to access government services the most. Small changes like this can be replicated to help citizens in remote areas access great care.
We’ll also begin to see more and more examples of innovative technology implementations, and the NSW Government should definitely be proud of pioneering the tap-and-go payment space.
We hope you gained a new perspective on what’s possible in digital service design and delivery. If you’ve heard of any other great transformative projects please let us know by commenting below.