With Expo 2020 on the cards, Dubai rolled out Smart Government initiative. But what exactly is Smart Government?
Smart Government is the ability of a Government to “Understand” the said/unsaid needs of its Customers (Citizens/Residents/Visitors); “design” solutions to address those needs; and “deliver” the solution effectively.
In order to be Smart, a few things can governments can do-
1. Crowdsourcing using Social Media
Crowdsourcing has immense potential. It has been proved time and again, starting from Goldcorp challenge (see video below) and cleanup of Gulf of Alaska 20 years after Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil in Prince of Sound.
Government in US is using crowdsourcing in intelligent ways.
- US Army created a portal armycocreate asking citizens to come up with situations soldiers could encounter. Once you come up with a situation, you design a solution and army takes it further.
- US navy created a online gaming portal mmowgli. Players are attacked by pirates in the game. The strategies players use to escape the pirates are assessed by the navy. Learning from these strategies are used to tackle the Somali pirate problem.
- US revenue department crowdsourced ideas to use taxpayers’ money more effectively. They got more than 40,000 responses and the tope ones were implemented.
- US State department and US Health department outsource small tasks to citizens, certainly an intelligent way to crowdsource man-hours.
Crowdsourcing by Governments helps in following ways-
- Creating connected and engaged Citizens
- Getting out of the box solutions to situations
- Creating trust between Governments and Citizens
Initiatives like #mydubai are a step in the direction of crowdsourcing. Much more can be achieved with the use of crowdsourcing in innovative ways.
2. Big Data
- Use of Big data in President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has resulted in further traction for Big Data. It is absolutely amazing to see how data was sliced to understand human behaviour. Data crunchers noticed that George Clooney had an almost gravitational tug on West Coast females ages 40 to 49. The women were far and away the single demographic group most likely to hand over cash, for a chance to dine in Hollywood with Clooney. They used this insight to collect millions of dollars. Many such insights were discovered and the team managed to collect donations above $ 1 billion. Every night election campaign was run 66,000 times to see the chances of Obama winning the campaign.
- Another interesting use of Big data is by New York City. Using Big data, Mayor of New York revolutionised the inspection of buildings. More than 450,000 buildings in New York city were old and prone to fire. It was difficult for a department with strength of 200 to inspect these buildings. The Mayor’s office resorted to big data. Various factors like sub-tenancy, crowding in building, timeliness of bill-payments by landlords, reporting of rodents/pests, latest brick-work etc. were studied. A list of 1500 buildings was prepared. When Firemen visited these buildings, they had to order evacuation in 70% of them. The hit rate improved considerable from 17% earlier. This resulted in pre-empting a disaster.
- Center for disease control (CDC) studies big data every year to decide the concoction of flu vaccine for a particular year.
- Organisations like Target and Amazon use big data to predict customer behaviour. Kayak, the airline aggregator uses big data to predict the future prices of airline tickets and suggest customers if they should buy right away or hold their decision for a few days.
Dubai government should look at using big data for Expo 2020. One way is to understand delegate behaviour from Expo 2015 – Their demographics, likes for each demographics, things they liked/not-liked, things they wished for in the expo. With all these insights, the experience for Expo 2020 can be actively designed to wow the delegated and create advocacy for Dubai.
3. Internet of Things
Sensors are attached to things and these sensors can transmit information. RFID is one such example. These sensors are connected and hence represent “Internet of things”.
In coming years, having sensors in things would transform everything. Imagine an infrastructure which can sense, collect data and transmit data to a source.
Currently it has been used in some interesting ways world over-
- Tweeting bus tops in Norway – Kolumbus bus stops in Norway have QR codes. On scanning the code, travellers get the details of buses and routes. They can share their experiences, their stories, and whatever they share is tweeted world over.
- Tagging rubbish in Seattle – 3000 pieces of rubbish were tagged in Seattle to understand waste management. Several insights were observed as a result. It was found that a printer cartridge travelled more than 6000 miles to reach a location to disposed in an environment friendly way. The travel completely negated the effort to dispose it. There is a need for municipalities to look at ways to dispose hazardous waste much closer. When such data is shared with people, it can lead to change in behaviour and adoption of green methods by citizens.
- Lamp posts in Birmingham – Weather department has attached sensors to lamp posts in Birmingham. These sensors capture weather information and transmit it to weather department, enabling them to forecast local weather.
- Tree tags in London – Project is launched in London to attach sensors to trees. Objective is to educate visitors and tell stories about trees in different ways.
I cannot wait to see how Citizen experience would transform when whole city infrastructure would have sensors. I could foresee traffic density on my route and plan accordingly. Governments would be able to monitor security, health, infrastructure, and almost anything.
Technology has immense capabilities, governments just need to resist using them haphazardly. Need of the day is to “define experience desired” and then look at the technologies that can deliver that experience.