The concept of digital transformation is being recognised across government as the key to streamlining processes and improving results.
Look at any government strategy and it’s likely to outline the goal of becoming a ‘smart city’. As the notion of what it means to be a ‘smart city’ evolves, so too does the pressure for digital transformation.
Marcus Foth (Professor of Urban Infomatics at QUT) best sums up the evolution of smart cities: from the government being an administrator and the people simply residents, to governments becoming collaborators and its citizens co-creators.
Digital transformation is key to facilitating this evolution.
For local government authorities, digital transformation involves leveraging advanced data analytics to deliver more intuitive services and create smarter communities.
Fundamental to this is being equipped with the technology and know-how to extract and manage actionable intelligence from Big Data.
Looking at local government authorities around the world, you can see that Geographic Information System (GIS) technology is increasingly being used as a key platform to do this.
GIS works with Internet of Things (IoT) technology to map and analyse data from physical, connected devices — including smart devices, vehicles, cameras, sensors and satellites — to reveal a real-time operating picture.
According to a 2017 McKinsey survey, nine out of 10 executives think IoT technologies will generate a positive impact over the next three years, yet more than half say their companies use 10 per cent or less of their IoT data. GIS technology can serve as the missing piece of the puzzle and boost this usage rate, as it translates IoT data into actionable insights.
Using these insights to proactively improve service efficiency — from alerting law enforcement professionals about a crime as it unfolds, to intuitively managing traffic light signals to reduce road congestion — is the first major step in transforming conventional communities into truly smart cities.
And while the digital transformation of some major metropolitan regions — such as Los Angeles, Dubai and Singapore — is already well underway, for many local government authorities some challenges remain.
Worldwide, 75 per cent of cities are not taking full advantage of smart city data and digital assets due to a lack of process, project management and change management skills (International Data Corporation, 2016).
And according to a Harvard Business Review/Genpact study of executives, only 21 per cent say they see significant results from digital transformation in their organisations.
Many decision makers — both in the private and public sectors — see digital transformation as a technology issue to be undertaken by the IT department, not realising that the process has to start in the boardroom.
The key to a successful digital transformation lies in taking a broader strategic view — mobilising the necessary digital technologies and securing organisation-wide stakeholder buy-in.
If you’re part of a local government council where the culture is unprepared for or resistant to change, you may need to enlist the right expertise in the early stages to guide the organisation through the digital transformation process.
Government leadership that can manage and implement change effectively, and is willing to experiment and learn from mistakes will be at the forefront of success – and see significant improvements in metrics such as customer satisfaction, profitability and efficiency.
There are already a wide range of tools and resources available to help governments implement digital transformation — all it takes is a little inventive spatial thinking and the determination to succeed.
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Group Managing Director