Cloud computing: Unlocking its power for government

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Originally published in New Statesman.

For most of the UK population, cloud-based services are part of everyday life, from online banking and social media to service oriented businesses like Uber. Without equivalent services the  government risks falling short of expectations. Cloud computing is more than an internet-based platform. Harnessing it unlocks the potential to create more personalised, more efficient public services, while providing a platform for emerging technologies like AI, blockchain and data science. Because cloud computing systems are linked in a common, open way, they set the stage for a  completely different style of interaction between citizens and government, helping to strengthen the social contract. This isn’t a glimpse of the future; it’s happening now, across the world, delivering monumental change in public and private sector organisations.

Cutting costs and complexity

Faced with growing budgetary pressures and increasingly technical hardware, a government military institution introduced a cloud powered AI solution to analyse and combine tactical vehicle sensor and maintenance data. You only pay for what you consume, so cloud computing saved them $15m per year. Furthermore, the cloud computing solution gave them  the tools to deliver a more sophisticated readiness system. It was established within months; using existing infrastructure would have taken years.

Creating efficiency

As city populations grow, it’s getting harder for councils to protect the public at large-scale events. Using a single cloud computing and AI-based solution, a council was able to support public safety, aggregating and analysing data on its public spaces to create a more efficient, integrated view of events. The solution connected multiple city agencies, strengthening communication and collaboration among departments, and reduced the need for human intervention.

Adding agility and scalability

In an industry that’s undergone a complete digital transformation, one global corporate insurer found new relevance by migrating its old platform to a cloud computing environment. This enabled  he business to quickly upscale product and service delivery, while tightening security processes. They can now meet demand peaks while future-proofing their software.

Enhancing security and connectivity

With the explosion of social data and escalating public threats, one US state government adopted a cloud-based real-time language detection system. This intelligence solution sped up their ability to take pre-emptive action against terrorism and safety threats. Running on cloud computing also meant the system could seamlessly link with over 350 municipal police departments, allowing it to be more responsive to changing security needs and impose better operational practices.

The sky’s the limit

These cases illustrate that merely adopting a cloud computing platform wasn’t enough. Cloud computing can only be the springboard. For each public sector service, there’s the perfect cloud-enabled solution. Harnessing the power of cloud computing not only enables governments to efficiently integrate legacy and emerging technologies, it offers the means to meet demand and create better relationships with their citizens. We don’t have to imagine this: it’s here and ready to be realised.

To find out more about IBM’s work in the public sector, visit

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