COVID-19 placed enormous demands on government services—demands that are not likely to go away. Moreover, the private sector now looks to government to facilitate the data transparency, digital processes, and data security needed to fuel recovery. Governments now understand those old ways of doing business no longer work. They need to become agile and flexible to meet today’s needs. Some were moved in that direction by the unexpected demands of the pandemic. For others, COVID-19 simply accelerated their digital transformation journey that was already underway.
This blog touches on three specific opportunities governments can embrace as they work to better service their distributed workforce and their constituents.
Leading through crisis
During a crisis, people look to governments for leadership on how to respond. That is because most people trust government to have their best interests at heart, which includes protecting their health and livelihoods. According to Gartner, “government organizations must also respond faster than ever to disruptions caused by environmental, economic and technological change. Institutional agility is the way public-sector leaders and CIOs can balance stability with speed.”¹
For example, despite social-distancing mandates, the City of Los Angeles police department (LAPD) needed a fast and reliable way to maintain vital operations and information-sharing central to protecting their community. In a department where paper processes were the norm, the LAPD piloted the use of Microsoft Teams in a region that is home to almost 2 million people. The deployment helped improve communication and coordination between officers, thereby ensuring residents remained safe. It also helped improve the response to concerns raised within the community. As officer Jens Back said: “Teams helps bridge the gap between what the public expects our capabilities to be and what they actually are.” Using Microsoft Teams, the LAPD was able to serve its community and ensure continuity of operations.
Building community trust
According to a Gartner survey, “81.2 percent of government CIOs noted the use of digital channels to reach citizens is one of the top changes that has occurred in their organization as a result of the pandemic.”2 For these engagements to comfortably take place, constituents need to trust that the data they share will improve their way of life, both now and in the future. In this context, trust is really a four-pronged fork comprised of transparency, security, privacy, and compliance.
The Flanders Government of Belgium understands the relevance of trust. There, residents who wish to open a business need to deliver personal data that includes their age and available capital. The government then verifies the information before the business application is approved. Officials recently simplified the process using Microsoft Azure Active Directory. Using an open-standards approach, the application procedure is easier for both the applicant and the government agency, lowering the burden for the residents and increasing their trust in the government. As a result, Government officials achieved their goal of fostering trusted interactions while protecting constituents’ privacy.
Intelligent security where it matters
It is estimated that by 2025, 65 percent of government agencies will use predictive analytics to protect the security and privacy of digital assets.3 That is because cybersecurity is of vital importance to governments who need to protect their data while transferring it across different agencies. An end-to-end Zero Trust approach builds security into the entire digital data estate.
In North Carolina, Durham County is home to about 300,000 residents. As the pandemic forced half of the county’s staff to work remotely, Durham County fell victim to a vicious malware attack. It quickly became clear that the county required new tools that enabled secure remote access for their distributed workforce. They looked to F5 Network and Microsoft to deliver on that need. Employees now use Microsoft Azure Active Directory credentials as a single sign-on along with multifactor authentication. The solution greatly reduces the risk of future attacks and provides employees and residents alike with the resources they need to protect themselves.
Enabling digital transformation within government
Government agencies around the world are prioritizing their approach to digital transformation. Microsoft empowers global governments to achieve more using our trusted and secure platforms, all supported by a robust ecosystem of partners. Using industry-leading solutions, Microsoft works alongside governments worldwide as they embark on their digital transformation journey.
1 Gartner, Top Business Trends in Government for 2021 Published 18 February 2021 – ID G00742948.
2 Gartner, Top Trends in Government for 2021: Multichannel Citizen Engagement. Published 19 March 2021 – ID G00741019.
3 IDC FutureScape: Worldwide National Government 2021 Predictions. Published October 26, 2020.