The Invisible Hands meets the Hand of Government
Over 20 years ago, I started my career in Washington, D.C. as a foreign affairs analyst on Capitol Hill covering, interestingly enough, arms control. However, it was the era of Glasnost and I understood that interest rates would soon supplement “throw weight” as a critical component of foreign affairs.
Today, as we enter the post-recession era, we see Public Sector organizations assuming larger and more active responsibility for the recovery. Indeed, governments must simultaneously maintain existing services and offer new services that help citizens manage through extremely challenging economic times.
In the past two decades, governments have used technology to create online service transactions, often called “e-government.” For many citizens and government employees, this represented an enormous leap in accessibility, convenience and efficiency.
eGovernment, however, was just the beginning. Now a second wave of government-enabling technologies redefines how citizen services — and the work to support them – occur at all levels. By understanding constituent demographics and providing multi-channel approaches to services, governments are innovating with technology.
Currently, up to 75% of constituents choose to contact governments using the phone. Many times, citizens face a confusingly large number of departments and they often encounter call transfers, busy signals, voicemail or government employees who are only qualified to address one part of a complex issues. Transparent and connected democracy –use of social networking (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter) to open government to citizens –fuels citizen expectations for consistent, real-time automated self-service.
The City of Maastricht, Netherlands realized it could no longer serve the needs of the citizens with the old world philosophy that work is always done behind a desk. They implemented mobile workspaces with mobile devices; workers carry their office with them wherever they go. With this model workers are available anywhere and anytime the citizens and 50 million annual visitors need them.
In Dayton Ohio, the Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Facility (VAMC) serves thousands of veterans annually. Dayton VAMC workers use Cisco Unified Communications systems to access the people and resources that they need the first time, which enables doctors to provide patients more timely, accurate, and progressive medical care. Dayton VAMC also uses Cisco technology in their call center that evenly distributes calls to the best-suited agents.
The OneCleveland wireless network project enables the Social Security Department for the City of Cleveland to use handheld devices to report broken sidewalks, burned-out streetlights, abandoned cars, or other problems while they go about their regular business in urban neighborhoods. The problems are quickly fixed, improving the quality of life in these neighborhoods and showing citizens that their government cares and is responsive to their needs.
To share experiences like these on a broad scale, Cisco developed The Cisco Connected Insight Series which delivers thought-provoking discussions on common issues facing public sector agencies today, particularly for education, healthcare, and safety and security.
To learn more about how government is changing, how it affects you, and how Cisco can help, dig into our new “Connected Insights” – and see how technology helps government succeed in its new mission.