E-government: Government services at your digital fingertips

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E-government: Government services at your digital fingertips

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E-government: Government services at your digital fingertips

Subheading text
Some countries are showing off what a digital government can look like, and it just might be the most efficient thing ever.
    • Author:
    • Author name
      Quantumrun Foresight
    • May 19, 2023

    The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic underscored the significance and the need to invest further in government data technologies. With lockdowns and social distancing measures, governments were compelled to move their services online and collect data more efficiently. As a result, investing in data technologies has become a top priority for many governments worldwide, enabling them to provide essential services and make data-driven decisions.

    E-government context

    E-government, or the provision of government services and information online, has been on the rise for years, but the pandemic accelerated the trend. Many countries had to migrate their services online and collect data more efficiently to prevent the spread of the virus. The pandemic highlighted the importance of investing in technology infrastructure that simultaneously handles data collection, processing, and reporting.

    Governments worldwide have recognized the significance of e-government, particularly in delivering services that are accessible, efficient, and transparent. Some countries have established their digital ecosystems, such as the UK's Government Digital Service, which launched in 2011. Meanwhile, the Netherlands, Germany, and Estonia have already implemented advanced e-government systems that allow citizens to avail of public services through various digital platforms.

    However, only a few countries have made almost all of their government services and resources available online. Malta, Portugal, and Estonia are the three nations that have achieved this goal, with Estonia being the most advanced. Estonia's X-Road platform enables different government agencies and services to communicate and share information, eliminating the need for manual and repetitive processes. For instance, citizens can perform several tasks from a single platform, such as registering the birth of a child, which automatically triggers childcare benefits, and the money is transferred to the bank account within the same registration process. 

    Disruptive impact

    E-government portals provide several benefits, according to consultancy firm McKinsey. The first is an improved citizen experience, where people can access and file all the information they need using a single dashboard and application. Another significant benefit is administrative efficiency. By maintaining just one database, governments can streamline different initiatives such as surveys and improve the accuracy of the data collected. This approach not only simplifies data collection and sharing but also saves governments time and money, reducing the need for manual data entry and data reconciliation.

    Moreover, e-governments allow for more data-driven initiatives, which can help governments to make informed decisions and policies. Denmark, for example, uses geodata to simulate different flooding scenarios and test crisis management procedures, which helps to improve the government's disaster preparedness. However, there are risks associated with data collection, particularly in the area of privacy. Governments can address these risks by ensuring transparency regarding the kind of data they collect, how it is stored, and what it is used for. Estonia's data tracker, for instance, provides citizens with detailed information on when their data is being collected and the different transactions that use their information. By being transparent and providing detailed information, governments can build trust and confidence in their digital systems and encourage citizen participation.

    Implications for e-government

    Wider implications of greater e-government adoption may include:

    • Long-term cost savings for governments in terms of labor and operations. As services become digital and automated, there‚Äôs less need for human intervention that tends to be slow and error-prone.
    • Cloud-based services that can be accessed 24/7. Citizens can file for registrations and applications without waiting for government offices to open.
    • Better transparency and fraud detection. Open data ensures that the money goes to the correct accounts and that government funds are used correctly.
    • Enhanced public participation and engagement in political decision-making, leading to greater transparency and accountability. 
    • Reduced bureaucratic inefficiencies and costs associated with paper-based systems, resulting in greater economic growth and development. 
    • Improved government effectiveness and responsiveness to citizens' needs, reducing corruption and increasing public trust in government. 
    • Better access to government services for marginalized and underrepresented populations, such as rural residents or those with disabilities. 
    • The development and adoption of new technologies and digital initiatives, leading to more innovation and competitiveness. 
    • Increased demand for workers with digital skills while reducing the need for certain administrative and clerical roles. 
    • The elimination of paper-based systems leading to a decrease in deforestation and other environmental impacts associated with paper production. 
    • Reduced barriers to trade and increased transparency in business transactions.
    • Increased citizen participation that reduces the risk of political polarization and extremism. 

    Questions to consider

    • Is your government providing the majority of its services online?
    • What are the other possible benefits of having a digital government?

    Insight references

    The following popular and institutional links were referenced for this insight: