As governments worldwide consider how best to safely welcome a majority of their employees back to the workplace, a fair question is how much that in-person interaction adds to the digital collaboration that has taken place over the past year. In other words, what exactly does it mean to facilitate collaboration within, and between government agencies and departments?
Microsoft supports digital collaboration through secure services and innovation that helps facilitate much desired information-sharing. That in turn fosters stronger connections across public and private organizations, allowing agile and informed multi-agency responses to public needs. Learn more by reading Empowering Cross-Agency Collaboration – How Digital Transformation Builds a More Agile, Efficient Government.
Let’s think about this from the perspective of three main objectives: empowered people, enhanced government, and enabled societies.
1. Empowered people. New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), one of North America’s largest transportation networks, serves a population of more than 15 million people. With approximately 6,500 subway cars running through up to 500 subway stations, the MTA needed real-time visibility into its round-the-clock sanitization procedures. This became even more pronounced during the pandemic. “Prior to COVID-19, we were entering data into Microsoft Excel or on paper or in notebooks” said Samuel Wong, Group Station Superintendent, Stations Process Improvement. With the onset of COVID-19, the MTA had to revisit this approach. Mobile-friendly apps built with Microsoft Power Apps and Microsoft Power BI provided the MTA with real-time sanitization data for trains and stations. After the successful deployment of these solutions, Rafail Portnoy, Chief Technology Officer, said that it was “a phenomenal example of the different MTA agencies working as one team, starting somewhere in one area of the agency and then taking that innovation, taking that knowledge, and then rolling this out throughout the rest of the agencies.” Using Microsoft technology, the MTA kept its trains and buses sanitized and ready to go, enabling the city to safely transport essential workers who provided medical services, food, sanitation and so much more.
2. Enhanced governments. Tasman District Council (TDC), one of more than 75 named district councils in New Zealand, had embarked on a project to replace ageing infrastructure and transform paper-based operations when the COVID-19 lockdown hit. At the time, only one in five TDC employees was equipped to work from home, so conducting business operations was challenging. Instead of putting their projects on hold, the TDC decided to move even faster to support their employees. In partnership with a local organization called Information Leadership, TDC developed a solution which made extensive use of Microsoft Teams, the Power Platform and SharePoint online.1 Within a 6 month period, TDC was able to replace its legacy document-management system with a modern digital workplace. Emma Barrett, Public Sector Director at Microsoft New Zealand, says: “The TDC experience is a role model for all 77 other district councils. Cloud-based platforms such as Microsoft 365 that enable remote working, along with automation tools such as the Power Platform, create major benefits for the public sector and allow greater responsiveness, collaboration, and efficiency.
3. Enabled societies. “A key outcome for Bristol City Council is to be a fair, healthy and inclusive, sustainable city” says Simon Oliver, Director of Digital Transformation. The city of Bristol is the eighth-largest city in England and has more than 400,000 residents. Social care plays a huge role in the council’s plans and ability to fulfil its mission. In the past, the council operated in siloed environments with data stored in disparate systems. This way of working slowed down effective collaboration. To accelerate their digital transformation journey, the council looked to Microsoft for assistance. With Azure, they were able to quickly view information within the system and leverage an analytics platform that allowed data-driven decisions about the children within the social care system. With Power BI, the council accessed visual reports and dashboards that provided a single view of each child. And by using Microsoft 365 E5 Security, they knew that the personal information and employee access was kept safe and secure. Ann James, Head of Children Services says these technologies were instrumental in supporting the city. In her words: “With Microsoft, Bristol City Council has been able to deliver on the vision for the city: A vision of hope and aspiration, with no one left behind, and everybody given the opportunity to achieve their potential.”
Enabling collaborative interactions in a digital way
Additional instances highlight the heightened benefits that effective collaboration brings to the table when digital transformation is embraced within government agencies. They include the early detection of fraud, waste, abuse and corruption, supporting vulnerable populations with artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), facilitating trusted interactions within public safety departments and much more.