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March 02, 2017
How emerging technologies will unlock value for public service agencies
By: Ger Daly

We talk more and more about ‘The New’ – a collection of technologies that are changing the world around us at an unprecedented pace, including Artificial Intelligence, Biometric Identity, Advanced Analytics, Blockchain and many more. So how does this relate to Public Service?

I am thinking, talking and hearing more about ‘Unlocking Value’ these days. Think of the cases that never get seen, the time spent on low-risk assessments and the high-risk cases that get let through. Think of the times you noticed something that you would have reported if only it was easier to do so. The time you spent queueing at the airport when you could have been eating, shopping or just plain old living! All examples of value locked in an old way of working – patiently waiting to be released…

Unlocking value

So how, exactly, can these technologies unlock value for public service agencies? For me, it helps to think about two elements of the story: internal and external.

Internally, emerging technologies have the power to unlock value by enabling public service agencies to realise the full potential of their people. Robotics and automation, for example, free workers from repetitive and reactive tasks, allowing them to focus on more productive, creative and fulfilling work. Released from routine, employees can be more proactive, which in turn drives creativity, productivity and high levels of job satisfaction and engagement. Why spend time investigating crime when you can prevent it - so much more satisfying!

Externally, emerging technologies can unlock value by broadening citizen’s participation in government through new service channels that better cater to their needs. At West Midlands Police, I have seen how new interactive digital tools will allow each of us to take a much more active role in keeping our communities safe. If policing by consent is the standard, this takes it to an entirely new level – the re-engagement of people in day-to-day public services in a way never seen before. I love this – technology that many thought would isolate us from each other, actually brings us together as a community with a common, higher purpose. 

The security challenge

With every opportunity comes a challenge – in this case security. Connecting workers and citizens to this extent creates and moves large volumes of important information. Agencies must do all in their power to protect this data, while the security threat landscape evolves just as rapidly as the technology upon which it feeds.

What was once a matter of protecting the perimeter has evolved to a much more sophisticated challenge. Artificial intelligence is being used to detect changes in the behaviours of the people who use these systems, providing early warning of what may be a threat or an intrusion. Sophisticated threat hunting capabilities are being deployed within the network to track potential intrusions and better understand their origin and purpose. In some cases, organisations need to find a way to continue to operate securely while intruders are already inside the perimeter.

Faced with this level of complexity, and pace of evolution, many organisations (both public and private) will elect to run security as a service. Trusted service providers who invest heavily in maintaining this capability will run security services across their clients’ networks at a level that most agencies cannot afford to do themselves.

Which brings us back to people and the challenges of attracting and retaining top security talent in what has become a very hot market – but that is for another day…

You can learn more about the value of emerging technologies in the public sector by reading our report: Smart move: emerging technologies make their mark on public service.

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