GovInnovate Brief

Why technology should serve the needs of the people

Posted by GovInnovate Team on 15-Jan-2016 09:14:24


Rising customer expectations sprouting from same-day delivery and real-time data tracking have changed the landscape of traditional business models, and we are beginning to see the same trend running through the public sector when delivering faster and more efficient digital services.

We are fast moving away from the days where local governments require printed forms, that can only be mailed in or submitted to the office (that is most likely only open from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday), and it is becoming ever more important for government departments to develop technologies that service their citizens well.

Below we look at 3 cities that have developed innovative technologies that are perfectly suited to the changing needs and behaviours of their citizens.


Hounslow Council adopts centralised data storage platform

In an effort to become “infrastructure-free in five years”, Hounslow Council's Director of Corporate Resources, Anthony Kemp, moved their operations to the cloud in 2013. Kemp noted 16-19 year olds preferred to engage with their departments via their smartphones or social media. And there was no solution in place to effectively cater to them.

Kemp chose to move to the cloud so that users and partners can share information securely from any device, stating that he wants an “agile approach to delivering stuff”.

By picking a centralised data storage solution, they ensured their customer service supported the access-anywhere at any-time mentality of their younger inhabitants.

However, when it comes to safety it is worth noting that Kemp’s department doesn’t need to prioritise data security, stating: "Ninety per cent of our general day-to-day transactions are around planning, housing and generally areas without overly sensitive data, so it's not a concern. It's more about satisfying people that the due diligence has been done."


Brazil becomes a smart city ahead of the 2016 Olympics

When adopting new technologies, a government must take into account that they are adopting change to make an entire community stronger. As such it’s important that residents are prepared for change and can easily access data.

Brazil, one of the world’s top seven smart cities of 2015, is living up to this method. To properly equip the city for the 2016 Olympics the government is introducing a number of smart city projects to improve traffic, crime, aging infrastructure and out-dated emergency procedures. To achieve this they’ve implemented a centralised control room dubbed, Centro de Operações Preifetura do Rio de Janeiro (COR).

This monitoring room keeps track of the municipality’s 30 departments and real-time conditions by tapping into 1,000 traffic and surveillance cameras. It also makes use of a pioneering weather forecast and hydrological system (developed by IBM Research scientists) that can foresee heavy rains up to 48 hours in advance.

Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, explained, “In addition to using all information available for municipal management, we share that data with the population on mobile devices and social networks, so as to empower them with initiatives that can contribute to an improved flow of city operations.

However Brazil is taking this one step further. To make sure all residents have access to technology they’ve introduced “Knowledge Squares” across poor neighbourhoods. Each of these spaces takes the form of a cube and typically consists of: a reception area, a playground, an outdoor movie theatre, a multimedia gallery, a digital library and a space where children can access books and iPads loaded with educational apps. In this manner digital literacy will be increased, ensuring that the proposed technological transformation will not become out-dated.


Paris innovates electric car-sharing scheme

A network of 16,00 public charging points is being rolled across France due to the success of the scheme that was initially introduced in Paris.

Paris has developed a name for itself in the innovation space, with high rankings as a green city and digital governance across Europe. 

French Economy and Finance Minister Emmanuel Macron said the company would be investing 150 million euros to create a network for electric and hybrid vehicles over the next four years.

Paris’s Autolib scheme began in 2012, and now includes some 2,500 vehicles served by 871 charging stations located around the city.

On a typical day, the cars are used for around 10,000 journeys and the scheme has 105,000 subscribers, demonstrating the success of this innovative initiative. 


When you look to a technical solution it is essential that it’s aligned to the needs and habits of your citizens. Have you heard of any other great examples of technology serving the needs of citizens? Let us know in the comments below.


Topics: Digital Government, Smart City, Citizen Behaviour, Cloud Storage, Electric Car-Sharing

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