Co-authored with Dani Schrakamp

Good for Citizens, Good for Government

Fast. Reliable. Easy to use. As a consumer, this is what I have come to expect from the technology that I use.

Many companies work hard to meet – and exceed – consumers’ technological demands. But in the new digital age in which we live, technology is advancing into all areas of our lives, from transportation to retail to healthcare, and forming a transcendent bond between our physical and digital worlds. As technology crosses into new realms, governments, cities, and countries are being digitized at an increasing pace, and citizens expect the same speed, reliability, and simplicity in these governmental technological advances.

Countries and communities around the world have a responsibility to meet the expectations of their citizens – but their digitization also provides a unique opportunity to position their nations for economic success. In fact, according to research conducted by McKinsey, “digitization of the public sector could free up to $1 trillion annually in economic value worldwide, through improved cost and operational performance.” But what does it mean for a country to ‘digitize’? Cisco defines the process as building a sophisticated technology ecosystem that will allow for greater connectivity, productivity, and security. Sounds like a fantastic idea, no? But how exactly can countries get to this higher ‘digitized’ state of being?


Unlock the Door to Digital Success

In this week’s post, our digital citizen is a renowned business leader tasked with fostering public-private sector partnership initiatives for country digitization efforts. Many countries are making impressive strides in this area. But two countries in particular stand out as the perfect locations for piloting the citizen’s program: France and Israel.

Through a powerful combination of entrepreneurial spirit and government leadership, France is one of the countries leading the digitization charge. Most recently, The French Minister of Economy, Emmanuel Macron, helped to unveil the new Cisco Innovation Center, which will focus its efforts on smart city advancement. These initiatives are part of the agreement between Cisco and the French government made in February which dedicated $100 million investment to start-ups, helping to accelerate the digital transformation of France.

Israel boasts a strong technology ecosystem and a thriving start-up economy. According to Fast Company, “The country boasts more start-ups per capita than any other country and currently has 70 companies listed on the Nasdaq, making it third only to the U.S. and China on the stock exchange.” Cisco is helping to advance the digitization of Israel by partnering with its government to build a super-fast countrywide Internet network that will improve economic development and connect its people to new public sector services than ever before.

Wednesday WalkaboutTW

Our citizen’s program for successful country digitization hinges on a strong trio of national leadership, industry excellence, and academia. And for a month-long workshop, our citizen will run the public-private partnership training series focusing on these forces working together to develop programs in four key areas.

The first track will cover research and education. To kick things off, our citizen poses the question that countries must ask themselves: What will the jobs of the future look like in our new digitized world? With that picture in mind, it is imperative that teaching and training are properly preparing a highly skilled workforce that can excel in future roles. This will require a significant investment by governments and businesses in education, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Investments in academic research will also be key to this effort.

Next on the agenda is entrepreneurship and innovation. Our citizen focuses on a central theme: To reap the rewards of digitization, countries must encourage entrepreneurship, at all levels. Tapping the start-up market to develop promising and scalable technologies will help drive economic, environmental, and social innovation.

Then the conversations shift to the importance of infrastructure and the fact that country digitization efforts require a strong IT foundation. Just as a traditional infrastructure – transportation, utilities, and buildings – promotes economic success, a well-built digital infrastructure can help increase productivity, create jobs, and improve the lives of citizens.

Finally, our citizen covers a seemingly obvious, yet core to the cause topic. Public sector agencies must lead the charge and take steps to transform how they serve their communities and deliver improved services to their citizens. Providing online services through Internet portals is just the beginning. Governments have a tremendous opportunity to use technology to encourage a new kind of interaction with their citizens, deliver unparalleled services, and protect their communities better than ever.

Looking toward the future

As country digitization efforts gain traction, governments will be able to serve citizens more effectively – and more in the manner they’ve become accustomed to in the private sector. Governments will also be poised to drive stronger economies and increase opportunities on the local, national, and global stage.

Of course, these developments cannot happen overnight. But some countries are well on their way to making true digitization a reality and this is both exciting and promising. As global citizens, we should all eagerly await its digitization and the opportunities it will provide.

And for those countries that choose not to pursue digitization, we leave you with this: What’s the alternative?

Next Stop

Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s post. And be sure to check back each week as we explore new themes, challenges and observations. Additionally, you can click here and register now to get your questions answered on how to become the next digital community.

We invite you to be a part of the conversation by using the hashtag #WednesdayWalkabout and by following @CiscoGovt on Twitter. For more information and additional examples, visit our Smart+Connected Communities page and our Government page on Cisco.com. Enjoy the Wednesday walkabout!

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