The influence of modern technology can be felt in every aspect of our lives, even in the way our governments function.
With smart governance, democracies around the globe are set to improve their education, security, transport, resource management, and economic infrastructure.
We have built our democracies on the principle of good governance, which is a great starting point to ensure public welfare and development of the state. But, people are losing their trust in the system due to the limitations of good governance like corruption, non-cooperation with the citizens, and unfair policies. Therefore, smart governance can improve the situation by creating a cooperative environment for citizens and businesses. Additionally, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has given rise to an information-based atmosphere that can be exploited by smart governance to communicate and collaborate with businesses and citizens. And, the principles of good governance can be applied more effectively with the help of smart governance.
What is Smart Governance?
Smart governance is the process of utilizing modern technologies and ICT to create a collaborative, communication-based, transparent, and sustainable environment for the citizens and government. Smart governments can be based on four different models:
- Government to Citizen (G2C) model- In this approach, the government interacts with citizens using communication mediums such as newspaper, radio, television, and the internet. And, the government provides a platform for citizens to voice their opinions about government policies and schemes.
- Government to Business (G2B) model- Government communicates with businesses to facilitate the growth of the economy. Companies can directly acquire knowledge about new policies, taxes, regulations, and credit facilities. Moreover, governments promote online business practices to save time and costs, and businesses can collect real-time data from the government.
- Government to government (G2G) model- This model creates a landscape for communication between government and government organizations, agencies and departments. The aim is to integrate all channels of governance with the help of ICT tools for a paperless, corruption-free, and sustainable system.
- Government to Employee (G2E) model- With this model, the government can communicate with employees and companies. Furthermore, personal information of employees such as social security number, bank details, and personal details are stored in a government database. And, organizations can carry out employee-related tasks such as payroll, bank loans, medical plans, and pension plans online.
What are the Requirements for Smart Governance?
To adopt modern technologies for smart governance, governments must know how much funds they have in their treasury and calculate the budget that needs to be allocated for the project. Various countries are allotting a huge budget for smart governance projects such as smart cities. For example, the Indian government has recently allotted over $13 billion for their smart cities project. And, it is essential that governments hire skilled professionals who can help in strategizing the approach to reduce the wastage of money. If the governments are falling short on funds, they can introduce a new tax or find private investors for their project. Additionally, developing countries may require cost-effective strategies to manage their development projects, international loans, and trade deficits.
Governments should create an appropriate infrastructure to facilitate the smooth functioning of smart governance. For developing an institutional infrastructure, an eGovernance application can be used. eGovernance enables citizens and organizations to communicate with the government and exchange vital information using the internet. And, governments can keep records of citizens’ personal information via a paperless medium. But, data storage is a major issue with eGovernance. Hardware storage has memory limitations, while the data stored on the cloud can be hacked. Hence, a blockchain-based decentralized cloud can prove useful to overcome storage limitations and avoid data breaches.
To build physical infrastructure, initiatives such as smart energy management, smart water management, smart mobility, and many more should be undertaken. For smart energy management, finding renewable energy sources, using advanced meters, and leveraging modern technologies to automate and monitor the distribution of electricity are necessary. Smart energy management aims to reduce energy prices and the impact of global warming. Whereas, smart water management will address the issues of water shortage and water purification. Using innovative technologies for improved water management can help in providing clean water for areas prone to water shortage. Meanwhile, smart mobility aims to create faster, eco-friendly, and cheaper transport alternatives. Additionally, CCTV cameras and AI can be used together for better traffic management and finding empty parking spots.
Smart education and smart healthcare are essential for developing the social infrastructure. Smart education utilizes modern technologies such as artificial intelligence and IoT to offer better educational facilities. Artificial intelligence can automate tasks such as grading tests and developing customized learning interfaces with digital textbooks. Moreover, IoT can be used for creating an interactive learning environment and attendance tracking. Smart healthcare deals with collecting patient data for remote diagnoses, remote treatment, online health records, and patient monitoring systems.
Skill development centers and business parks are key parts of the economic infrastructure. Skill development centers train students and employees to make them more competent and reliable enough to contribute to the growth of industries and workplaces.
Smart governance is leveraging modern technologies for various applications. For example, AI can be used for facial recognition in smart surveillance, where local authorities can identify criminals and suspects in the crowd. Furthermore, CCTV cameras can help in traffic management by coordinating traffic lights and directing the flow of vehicles over roads accordingly.
Similarly, IoT can be used for the benefit of the government sector. IoT sensors can be installed on various outdoor objects to collect important data for analytics. For example, the tech giant Nvidia has introduced Metropolis for public safety, traffic management, and resource optimization using IoT devices and deep learning for video analytics. Currently, there are 17.3 million units of IoT devices in the smart cities of the European Union that help in city planning by analyzing various factors such as transportation patterns, zoning, mapping, population increase, and food and water consumption.
Blockchain-based financial services can help in transferring and receiving payments for various organizations. Moreover, blockchain is used to execute smart contracts, where payments can be autonomously executed after pre-set conditions are met. And, the chances of fraud will be reduced due to the transparent, distributed, and encrypted network.
What are the Benefits of Smart Governance?
Enhanced Participation of Citizens
Smart governance has created a medium for interaction between the government and citizens. With the help of ICT tools, governments can communicate with citizens. Additionally, citizens can give feedback and suggestions for the latest government programs, policies, and schemes. The feedback would directly reach their respective leaders, counselors, and city managers.
Access to Crucial Information
With smart governance, citizens can have easy access to government data related to funds, expenditure, and investment. All data except critical information that can threaten the security and safety of citizens will be transparent to the public. Hence, the transparency will ensure better accountability from the government.
eGovernment can implement identification and authentication measures to prevent electoral fraud and abstention. Moreover, eID cards will offer voter registration and authentication digitally to create a convenient and secure voting system. And, secure online ballots can enable privacy and anonymity of voters.
Financial and Social Inclusion
A large chunk of the world population is underprivileged and illiterate. Such a population finds it increasingly difficult to use financial services. Thus, smart governance can help by offering banking and financial solutions for the underprivileged population. And, eIDs can be used to make payments for various products and services.
Smart governance will promote a culture of conscious decision-making. The analytics obtained with the help of modern technologies will help plan better policies that target the conservation of resources and environment, development of the community, security of citizens, better education and employment, and public welfare.
Involvement of the Private Sector
Private organizations are exponentially advanced in research and development of modern technologies. And, organizations already know the strengths and limitations of existing technologies. Therefore, private organizations can help the governments in planning for successful deployment of technologies. Moreover, private companies can be potential investors for government projects.
How Can You Implement Smart Governance?
After understanding the benefits and the potential of smart governance, governments need a roadmap for successful adoption of smart governance. For this purpose, governments can follow the steps given below:
- Educate the citizens about smart governance and train the local authorities.
- Hire skilled professionals who can help with the deployment process.
- Set up goals that can be accomplished with smart governance.
- Create strategies to achieve your goals.
- Collect funds and look for potential investors for the project.
- Introduce schemes and programs to promote public and private collaboration.
- Update legislation and policies that would help the growth of smart governance.
With the rise of modern technology, smart governance can build on the foundation laid by the principles of good governance. Therefore, governments need to decide between smart governance that will develop their nation and economy with advanced tools, or the same old good governance principles that have been lacking in several areas.