COVID-19 has given governments a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine the way they interact with businesses and serve people. Largely due to the pandemic, the technology needs and expectations of government agencies have grown exponentially. This has driven the need to virtually maintain operations while continuing to serve the community.
In my previous blog, I shared how remote access has gained significant importance as most governments adopt a digital delivery model for services. With this blog, I’ll dive deeper into three specific use cases that demonstrate how government agencies have leveraged technology to digitally transform the future of work and engagement with constituents.
As an outcome of the pandemic, courts are no longer mere physical locations but access points to achieving justice.¹ To expand access to justice despite the lockdown, the court system had to quickly adopt a digital model to conduct necessary court proceedings. Now, virtual courts are no longer an aspirational goal but top-of-mind for many judicial systems. In Buenos Aires, Argentina where a judicial body made up of more than 8,600 people intervene in over 800,000 criminal proceedings per year, time is of the essence. Studies have shown that faster decision-making saves an average of $451,273 over a three-year period.² Through the implementation of Microsoft Teams, court justices and others within the judicial system can improve their time-to-decision by 17.7 percent.² This increased time efficiency also provides the justices and lawyers alike with increased opportunities to serve more people in need of hearings. These outcomes, combined with the desire to ensure open communication and trust under social-distancing guidelines, led the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Buenos Aires to choose Microsoft Teams as a platform for virtual hearings.
The need to continue essential services, such as support for child welfare and senior care cases, has prompted agencies to fundamentally change how they practice social work. Today, social workers are in the pursuit of more time to dedicate to those in need and better outcomes for those within the system. During these challenging times where in-person interactions are limited, many social workers have turned to video conferencing to ensure continuity of operations via virtual visits. In Georgia, the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) leveraged Microsoft Teams to help people come together quickly to meet the needs of children at high risk of abuse and neglect. Using Teams, multiple users can share information, ideas, and documentation to make critical decisions. As a highlight to their success, Sabrina Watson, the Region 13 Director for DFCS shared that Teams has “enabled us to keep moving forward. We’re able to preserve the safety of workers and the families they serve by working remotely while providing easy access to critical information and maintaining the strictest security.”
As governments seek to personalize remote services to securely meet the needs of all people, provide faster response and quicker resolution times, the resulting outcomes benefit both employees and constituents. From a worker’s perspective, employees can work more efficiently and effectively no matter where they are. In Osaka City, Japan, Microsoft Teams is used to ensure seamless telework capabilities for 2,000 employees—nearly 10 percent of the entire city staff. Studies have shown that by digitally transforming the ways of working, employees report a 30 percent increase in engagement.³ To quote Akihito Nishihata, Manager for Digitalization Promotion Section for the City of Osaka: “Teams allowed us to shift telework from an urgent innovation preserving work-life balance to a permanent work style supporting new work practices.”
Switching gears to a more community-focused instance, I present research findings that “people are nine times more likely to trust a government agency if they’re satisfied with its service.”⁴ It is with that in mind that the city of Gilbert, Arizona forged a path to serve people at scale with highly secure and compliant tools. Gilbert, which is on a mission to be the “City of the Future,” felt it was important to not only manage its workforce with intelligence and technology but to also set up the community to be stronger in the future. The city has earned numerous awards in categories such as prosperity, opportunity, and crime prevention. “We were able to run the town and continue our operations [during COVID-19],” says Sasan Poureetezadi, Chief Technology Officer at Gilbert. “Quite frankly, I’m not sure if we could have done it without Teams.”
Enabling remote government access to everyone, everywhere
Access to trusted, remote government services is very essential—most especially during these uncertain times. When implemented in a thoughtful manner, innovative technology plays a key role in ensuring the continuity of public-facing operations, processes, and governance in a secure fashion.
1 Initial Report ON THE Goals and Recommendations FOR New York State’s Online Court System, Online Courts Working Group of the Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts, November 9, 2020