Assistant to CBDO at Code Inspiration SWD company. Digital transformation and E-Government optimist.
Many countries develop their own E-Government systems nowadays. Experts define several stages of E-Government services development. In the article, we explain how the final level of E-gov services development should work so that its outcomes provide citizens with the maximum possible value.
The suggestion is to create a digital copy of a given state, that would reflect an actual, relevant situation in the given country and all the variety of its internal affairs. With this virtual information environment, government authorities can and must test all their administrative decisions. And, basing on the results of the virtual experiment(s), take or don’t take the given decision.
5 Levels of E-Government Services
Let’s discuss how such an ambitious E-Government information system should work in detail. To start with, let’s have a look at widely accepted levels of E-Government services development:
- Presentation/Information level- when state authorities start building their online presence, creating websites with static information about their activities and services.
- Communication – state authorities begin to communicate with citizens online. G2C – Government to Citizens and later G2B – Government to Business branches of E-Government development are launched.
- Transaction – state authorities make services digital, for example, citizens can pay a fine or register business online. The G2G – Government to Government – branch of E-Government is launched – state authorities begin to interact with each other by means of some internal information system(s).
- Participation – citizens obtain tools for taking part in the governance process, for instance, online voting or online public hearing become available.
- Integration – full automation of administrative processes. Completion of E-Governance formation – all the citizens are involved in the governmental process digitally and take part in any and all activities of government authorities.
Level 6 is Virtual Modeling and Experimenting. It means that any administrative decisions should be inputted in the E-Gov information system and tested before accepting.
What the final stage of E-Government services development should look like
After the process of E-Government development according to the mentioned stages is complete, there is one more stage to develop. This stage implies the creation of a digital model of the given state. This digital model has to be an information environment – a reflection, an image of the actual state of the country. Let’s say, a digital copy, a digital duplicate of the given state.
Existence of a digital copy of state is a final stage of E-Government services development. It is supposed to be a 6th stage and can be called something like “Virtual modeling and experiments for better state administrative decisions”.
The necessity of virtual modeling and experiments for administrative decisions.
It opens great possibilities for state authorities. Using a virtual model of a state, government officials can try to apply their decisions right in the created application prior to any real-life decisions. Authorities can experiment virtually, trying any decision. A parliament discussion on the project of a state budget for next year? – No problem, let’s set a task to the virtual model to calculate the best possible budget allocation, inputting some initial variants elaborated.
What will happen if we abolish all the taxes (sounds fantastical, but if we have a virtual copy of the state sandbox, why not to try it. If for no other reason than analytics curiosity), universal basic income initiation; retirement-age increase or decrease; opening a new bus/train/tram route; building a nuclear power station; number of medical students we need to cover the staffing requirements in hospitals in 5 years; in sum, any vital question and decision can be tested in the created information environment.
Needless to say, the cost of such experiments is cheaper than long societal focus-group experiments in reality which ministries and other state authorities carry out now. Just payments for hosting needed 🙂 However, it is true that the development of such an information system will be costly enough.
Level 6 of the E-Government services development: Creation of a world global digital copy?
Thus, we need to create a state-level information system so that we can experiment and test local-level as well as state-level decisions. But it is possible to make it even better! Let’s pretend several countries could agree to unite their efforts in E-Government services development and create a joint digital copy/virtual model gradually. Surely, such an idea is so hard to realize as much as how complex issues can be tested in such a global information environment. So, If there is a single world global information system, it opens vast possibilities to experiments on a global scale. Among such issues are world economy affairs, climate changes, mass migration, international trade, travelling and many more.
There is more to come. Let’s pretend such an information system is created, that is to say, E-Government system development has been completed, and state authorities have access to unlimited experiments in a virtual environment with decisions they plan to take.
The most important aspect of E-Government-based virtual modelling system development is that the society of a given state, its citizens should be provided with unlimited access to the created system. Anyone should be able to use the created “application”, and input and test their own ideas and decisions. A comprehensive social network, where users-citizens can publish the results of their experiments, rate and discuss experiments of other users, should be developed.
There should also be a ranking of the best experiments and their results. What’s more, government officials should be active participants of this “forum”, as well as take and adopt the best decisions which results were confirmed by the experiments in the virtual information environment. Surely, the decisions that were created in the system and tested in it, and then were adopted by the government authorities and implemented in real life, should be marked somehow. An author(s) and everyone who took part in the given decision’s development, improvement and testing, should be rewarded.
Right now the author doesn’t know yet what kind or reward they should get. Supposably, active and impactful users should get not only money..
The 4th level of E-Government development makes the decision-making process data-centric. Implementation of a digital state model on level 6 enables true integral E-Governance.
Right at this stage a complete E-Governance and even E-Democracy is “unlocked”, because users-citizens will not only discuss decisions of government authorities and give feedback, but will also have a possibility to generate and test their own administrative decisions by means of the information sandbox created. As well as promote the given decisions, propose them for realization.
The great value of making this virtual information environment is that any experiment in it will be truly data-centric, based on real situations in the country, reflected digitally. Thus, results of such experiments will be data-centric, data-driven, not based on personal experience and intuition of people who are responsible for socio-economic research, like it is carried out nowadays.
About some more features advanced E-Government service should have.
Getting back to the stages of E-Gov services development, let’s pay more attention to levels 4 and 5. At these stage(s) the E-government system should be transferred to an open platform. That is, E-gov portal is a service, to which any individual developer or company is able to create an application.
This product development strategy is similar to, for instance, Chinese famous WeChat application, that is transforming into a comprehensive ecosystem. Initially developed as a messenger, it is full of mini apps and microservices now: food delivery, social network, order taxi, online payments and so on. Russian leading social network VK is also acting the same way.
So, the developed E-Gov system should be open for developers, who can develop an app for it, widening E-Gov system’s functionality. Surely, without any access to users-citizens personal data. Actually, the state structure that will be responsible for development and promotion of this E-gov system, should promote it actively. At least periodical hackathons dedicated to development of mini apps for the E-Gov system should be organized.
Thanks for your time reading this article. Your thoughts, suggestions, objections are welcome. Or even explanation why it is impossible and such an E-Government virtual modelling system will never be created. Let’s start the discussion of the E-Gov services of the future now.
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