Technology Redefining Government
The Tech-Driven Disruption of the Public Sector
As technology advances and disrupts many sectors, including public administration, governments are grappling with how they should manage everything around it: from taxation to laws and regulations. It’s a slow process, as traditional administrative structures often struggle to break down and grasp complex, innovative concepts that were only invented recently. From cryptocurrencies and blockchains to quantum computing and 5G, thoroughly understanding the inner workings of new tech, is the key to preventing its potential adverse impact on society and national budgets.
When it comes to Big Tech and its dominance of the space, regulating anti-competitive behavior is a feat best left to governments. Still, there needs to be a balance between restrictions and liberties to ensure certain markets do not get left behind in the race to adopt new technology due to an overabundance of red tape. Markets must remain open if they are to continue innovating and retain their competitive edge on the global scene.
Governments and Technology
Fortunately, when it comes to technology, the opportunities mostly outnumber the threats. Nevertheless, there are still considerations that local, national and regional governments need to keep in mind to ensure a fair playing field for citizens, businesses and public organizations alike.
The digital revolution has brought on numerous challenges that continue to test the ability of the public sector to adapt and respond adequately. From communications to commerce, the game has fundamentally changed – and, admittedly, many public structures have not been able to keep up. Improvements are needed not just in the speed of creating new laws and regulations but also in the knowledge, manpower, and infrastructure – all of which depend on investments in the public sector that aren’t always easy to secure, especially in the less developed world.
Trends Transforming the Public Sector in 2020 and Beyond
Cybersecurity and cyberdefense
This field is finally receiving the advances it needed thanks to innovations in 5G, AI, facial recognition, and quantum computing. From cyberfraud to fake news and political interference, the importance of ensuring that personal data and democratic processes remain sovereign and protected cannot be overstated. Governments will play a significant supporting role in ensuring technological capability is backed up by strong regulations that are also enforced.
Natural resourcesand air quality
The illegal exploitation of natural resources by unauthorized parties is going to become more difficult, thanks to technological innovations like satellite data and geospatial intelligence. In South America illegal water diversion is a big issue that technology can help alleviate. Worldwide, wildfires can be prevented, detected and extinguished much earlier when the data about the conditions that cause them is made available to the government agencies responsible for fighting them in a timely manner.
Whereas until recently, industrial polluters were hard to detect, fine, and prosecute, UAVs (drones) are now being used to detect air pollution of industrial grade. Drones can monitor noise, traffic, light, wind, temperature, humidity, and air quality, and have already been used by cities such as Krakow, Poland, in successfully tackling particle pollution.
Creating smart living hubs
As tech-savvy citizens’ demand for connected services and smart infrastructure grows, governments at all levels must keep up on both hardware and software innovations, often custom-building solutions for their specific needs. Automated workflows, 5G networks, the Internet of Things, collaborative spaces and programs, and other services are bound to become the norm in modern urban hubs, though they may be slower to adopt in some parts of the world.
Redefining Government’s Role in Technology Oversight
Even though governments’ role in regulating and taxing technology continues to grow, devising sensible regulations for the digital age is an ongoing challenge. On one hand, there is a lack of legal expertise with sufficient understanding of all things digital. On the other hand, tech giants like Amazon, Google and Facebook have no physical presence to define where they should pay taxes. The latter has prompted heated debates about how tech companies should be taxed to ensure they are paying their fair dues. The latest rhetoric mandates that Big Tech should be taxed anywhere they operate and derive revenues, rather than where their de facto headquarters are.
Government Oversight of Technology in Europe
Regulatory bodies worldwide are coming to terms with the need for better understanding and oversight of technology – thus, dedicated agencies and bodies of experts are being recruited to meet these needs. Europe has the ambition to become a world leader in all things digital, while maintaining the technological independence of its markets and citizens. The new digital strategy of the European Commission intends to boost the digital capabilities of citizens, businesses, and agencies by creating a single market for data and thus limiting the reach of Big Tech. Still, there are many societal values that need to transform with the shift to digital – something the Old Continent is yet to address.
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