A Smart City is only as good as the interoperability between citizens, information, the environment, policy, technology, infrastructure, and local government. Like a well-planned smart city, government 4.0 innovations should be defined by their ability to adapt, support, and meet the needs of the people.
Implementing a Smart City is a complex task, with the ultimate goal being the ability to search for and identify intelligent solutions that enhance the quality of life for its citizens. E-government, part of the system of systems within a Smart City, is facilitated through various information and communication technologies (ICTs). It is often applied to public management for the improvement of organizational efficiencies. Good governance, on the other hand, is the process of decision-making and implementing those decisions. A growing number of smart government applications are currently opening the door to more transparent, secure, and innovative methods for delivering citizen engagement and public services.
In 2016, the Dubai government launched DubaiNow, a unified services platform that provides access to more than 115 government and city services in 12 categories from over 34 entities. Users can pay utility bills, manage vehicle registrations, doctors' appointments and prescriptions, donate to charities, and even find real-time flight information. The platform combines a well-designed user interface with a wide variety of innovative and interdependent services that rely on shared data to support smooth transactions.
The ROI behind smart government transactions lies in the reduced time and costs associated with conducting and facilitating services. Whether it's between the government and citizens, businesses, or other government entities, ICTs increase the scalability of services and remove limitations around time and geographical barriers. E-government technology is made possible by providing a digital, transparent, and personalized experience using blockchain, smart contracts, data encryption, and other technologies that enable secure data sharing across the internet.
This application simplifies access for engagement between local authorities and citizens regarding taxes, licenses, and documentation. Several startup companies are using blockchain to innovate and modernize government. The idea is to create a more open, transparent, and publicly verifiable system for exchanging assets, enforcing contracts, and securing shared data. Other types of transactions include Government-to-Citizen (G2C), Government-to-Business (G2B), Government-to-Government (G2G), and Government-to-employee (G2E).
Online Voting Systems
The ability to shift voting to online platforms encourages participation from an expanded voter base. It is also a way to get citizens more involved in the decision-making process regarding new policies and initiatives. Online voting platforms save time and resources by allowing users to create and manage elections online, significantly improving the ease of use for virtually any election process. Online voting systems, coupled with blockchain technology, become secure and immutable, which increases public trust and engagement of citizens.
IoT Platforms for Smart City Management
IoT platforms help visualize data collected from smart city sensors. When streamed through an IoT management platform, the raw data reveals patterns of interactions between citizens and infrastructure. This technology allows planners and city managers to employ data-driven decision making for energy consumption and traffic management. The USA-based startup SWIM developed an IoT platform that utilizes edge computing with a "store-then-analyze" architecture to ensure fast and efficient data management for real-time decision making in a dynamic urban environment.
Civic Engagement Platforms
When building a smart city, citizens need to be involved in shaping the future that they want for themselves. Civic engagement platforms allow ideas and suggestions to be shared between citizens and the government regarding upcoming and potential projects. These platforms help build inclusive communities through collaborative decision-making with input from multiple stakeholders. Ultimately, cities can't move into higher technology levels for more advanced services until the basic needs of citizens are met.
Public Grievance and Monitoring
Citizens now have the opportunity to report public service issues with their smartphones while providing evidence in the form of photos or other media files. Solutions like PromptGov provide an all-in-one mobile app, text, and chat-based reporting solution to support 311 non-emergency municipal requests from citizens. This solution is cost-effective for addressing challenges in public safety and service request reporting.
In August of 2020, Egypt's Minister of Communications and Technology announced a month-long nationwide trial of the Digital Egypt platform. It is part of the country's economic diversification plan and the National Strategy for Sustainable Development 2030. Digital Egypt gives citizens access to over 70 government services, including submitting grievances, paying tickets, renewing licenses, and even filing lawsuits. The technology allows government staffing to remain constant while allowing more citizens to obtain services without the need to travel to government buildings.
Government 4.0 is doing more with less and using technology to facilitate and support better planning and decision making. E-government is bringing scalability to public services in a time when budgets are already tight. In the future, the smart government paradigm will help shift focus from downstream reactionary solutions to upstream proactive solutions when it comes to problem-solving in urban environments. In addition to technology, smart cities will need to include smart policies, smart governance, and smart investment to deliver the best outcomes for growing urban populations.
Learn more about developments in smart government by joining our webinar, "Simple IoT for Smart Cities," on Thursday, November 12, 2020, at 11AM CT.