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Town and country: smarter at every level
As local and national governments infuse the basic systems of our planet with intelligence to stimulate their economies and benefit their citizens, it begs the question: Can the operations of government itself become smarter?

 

A series of conversations for a smarter planet. Smarter public services for a smarter planet.

A series of conversations for a smarter planet. Smarter public services for a smarter planet.

As state and federal governments work to infuse intelligence into their transport, energy, water, telecommunications and other systems in order to stimulate economies and benefit citizens, it begs the question: can the operations of government itself become smarter?

Smarter government will do more than simply regulate the outputs of our economic and societal systems. It will be a smoothly functioning system itself, interconnecting dynamically with citizens, communities and businesses in real time to spark growth, innovation and progress. The challenges are many – from departmental silos to process delays to lack of transparency and accountability. But governments around the world are showing real progress.

Smarter government means collaborating across departments and with communities.

Collaboration can help governments become more transparent and accountable; manage resources more effectively; and give citizens access to information about decisions that affect their lives. In the UK, Southwest One, an innovative joint venture, is providing shared services by integrating many functions of the Somerset County Council, the Taunton Deane Borough Council, and the Avon and Somerset Police. And in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a business intelligence solution has improved efficiency by 2,000% in the city’s ability to generate reports and keep citizens informed.

Smarter government means helping to promote economic growth.

Governments can boost the economy by streamlining cumbersome processes and simplifying reporting requirements, which are especially burdensome to small agencies. For example, the Maryland Department of Labour, Licensing and Regulation have enabled online renewal of professional licenses and public verification of valid license holders. And the Belgian Crossroads Bank for Social Security has automated 42 services for employers, eliminating 50 social security declaration forms. As a result, 23 million declarations were made electronically in 2008 – a major productivity benefit for Belgian businesses, saving them an estimated $1.7 billion a year.

Smarter government means making operations and services truly citizen-centric.

Leading governments are integrating their service delivery, establishing offices that support multiple services and placing the most needed transactions on the Web. For example, herein Australia, Centrelink helps the government to provide appropriate service offerings based on citizens’ life events, such as marriage, the birth of children and the need for elder care. Kyoto, Japan, created a Web site that allows all people, regardless of their abilities or native language, to access city information.

And then there are those times when being citizen-centric with speed and accuracy may be a matter of life and death. During the recent wildfires in California, government agencies turned to Twitter to provide real-time updates on the status of the fires – directing people without power, but with mobile devices, to Google Maps for evacuation information.

Let’s build a smarter planet.