Skip to main content

Smarter Public Services

From the local city council to international collaborations, new ways of working are underway.

Tab navigation

Top 5 changes UK citizens would like to see made for a smarter Britain. Healthcare - by improving waiting and treatment times. Safety - reducing urban crime. Environment - by making our towns and cities environmentally friendly. Transport - by reducing congestion and pollution. Energy - by reducing consumption of electricity and water.

Source: Independent market research commissioned by IBM – June 2009

“Citizen-centric” Public Services - the evolution continues

Just as private organisations have rediscovered their mission and business model by returning to a focus on customers, governments around the world are finding success in reorienting their structures, information technology, policies and public services around the citizens they serve.

This can range from "one-stop shopping" for previously discrete sets of services to information sharing and collaboration across regions and borders for the benefit of both citizens and government.

Leading by example: green government is good policy

Governments can influence the behaviours of citizens, businesses, institutions and communities to create a more sustainable way of life.

Digital Britain: Online Public Services are a proxy.

The current economic environment offers an almost unique opportunity to transform the way UK business works – to become more efficient and subsequently more competitive. We should take advantage of this clear need for change to transform and prepare our economy for recovery. Given that the public sector is a substantial part of the economy, the current climate also offers the opportunity for the further transformation of public services, as new models of providing these services can be introduced. IBM believes one of the key indicators of the achievement of Digital Britain will be the ability of citizens to do business with government online.

IBM believes that UK Government has the opportunity to drive the Digital Britain agenda by delivering the innovative, compelling online public services that will create the demand for this infrastructure. However, this is not just about infrastructure; it is also about the way it is harnessed to deliver smarter government services.

The democratisation of data

For the smartest governments, interactions with citizens are opportunities to share information and improve lives, not "merely" to dispense public services, administer justice and provide a conduit for the exercise of rights and responsibilities.

Thus, in places like Ontario and Belgium, data that can be used multiple times on a citizen's behalf — such as in registering a newborn or applying for social system benefits — need be entered only once, eliminating the need for users to input data multiple times when interacting with government online.

This also works in reverse, with increased access to government information by citizens enabling a better understanding — and, ultimately, a better stewardship — of government and its resources. This can come about through a variety of means. For example, the power of human visual intelligence to find patterns in words and numbers gets powerful expression in the many individual uses — some serious, some fun, many interesting — that IBM's Many Eyes project makes possible.

In perhaps the most overt example of using technology and collaboration to affect government, even when the government would prefer not to be affected, human rights activists, journalists, dissidents and even average citizens are increasingly using Web sites and wikis to track political campaign contributions, report on censorship and crackdowns and analyse data released by government whistleblowers or uploaded as anonymous leaks.

The possibilities of smarter public services. What if... ...youd didn't need to know which part of government delivers the service you need? could pay your tax car and insurance based on where/ when/ how you drive? ...vehicle traffic and carbon emissions could be cut dramatically by moving more government services to electronic channels? ...your car insurance premiums were reduced because advanced analytics allow government to target uninsured drivers? could look in one place to understand all of your benefits, payments, taxes, obligations, entitlements, etc? ...hospitals and social services were informed and scheduled their services as soon as your doctor completes your diagnosis? only had to tell government once when you change address? ...government could tailor and integrate services in real time to your circumstances and preferences?

Smarter public services in action

Three local UK councils have adopted a new IBM business model that could change the way local government is managed. Through Southwest One, IBM will manage the IT infrastructure, procurement, customer service and workforce development functions, allowing agencies to focus on delivering critical services to citizens. The model can expand to include up to 30 public sector agencies.

Watch the video and get the full story.

Six drivers of governmental change on a smart planet: Changing demographics; Accelerating globalisation; Rising enviromental concerns; Evolving societal relationships; Growing threats to stability and order; Expanding impact of technology.

Government 2020

In its report "Government 2020," the IBM Institute for Business Value identified six worldwide forces that were at work, driving such changes for government at every level. Together, these six forces represent a mix of opportunities and threats. Yet as universal as they are, they require unique responses suited to each nation, region or locality.

Smarter cities on a smarter planet

By 2050, 70 percent of people will be living in cities. There will be at least 27 'megacities' of 10 million people, compared to 19 today.

By 2050, city dwellers are expected to make up 70 percent of the Earth's total population. With such a large proportion of us moving to urban areas, the need for smarter public services is clear. Visit 'smarter cities' to see some of what's already been said and to read about the best ways to prepare and transform our cities to handle exponentially greater economic, societal and environmental complexity in the years ahead.