Electronic governance or eGovernance, is a modern technological advancement in governance methods that is rapidly gaining global popularity. Fundamentally, it is the application of ICT for exchanging information, communicating transactions, and delivering government services through networks and systems that integrate conventional methods of governance.
All over the world, internet connectivity barriers are swiftly dropping. The number of active internet users is increasing exponentially. Most governments over the world are, either aiming to set up online systems or already offering some form of digital services. Now more than ever after the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that a digital transformation is not just possible; it also is necessary. Quite a few countries have already embraced the digital transformation by endorsing locally emerging technology companies as public service providers or outsourcing the establishment and launch of local networks to foreign software development companies.
With eGovernance, citizens can gain access to government services in a much more convenient, efficient, and transparent manner. As the latest technology innovations improve efficiency and convenience across the board; very soon, governments that endorse eGovernance strategies can provide better services, at a much faster pace, and in a more effective way than ever before. The process of transition from conventional to eGovernance is quite complicated, but it is sure to lead to progress and the implementation of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.
Target Groups and Major Stakeholders:
It is crucial to note that eGovernance is not limited to distinct physical boundaries. Therefore there are multiple new avenues for government interest groups, bodies, and stakeholders to interact seamlessly.
There are four major types of interactions that are necessary for an eGovernance system to be implemented:
- Government to Government (G2G)
- Government to Citizen (G2C)
- Government to Business (G2B)
- Government to Employees (G2E)
1. Government to Government (G2G):
A type of information exchange and service that is between the core and periphery of the government. There are two ways this can be done; horizontally or vertically. Horizontal government-to-government interaction is the local interaction of government entities and government bodies. Vertical interaction occurs between different levels of government, such as the national level, state level, and city level.
2. Government to Citizen (G2C):
This is the interaction of the government with the general public. First and foremost, a government owes its services to its people. By setting up an interface between government and citizens, a wide variety of public services can be made available to citizens through one unified channel. It can enable citizens to have the freedom to share their views and grievances on government policies. Essentially, it makes people an intimate part of governing themselves in a fully democratic fashion.
3. Government to Business (G2B):
This is a type of interaction that lets businesses and industries interact with the government, just like G2C. A correctly utilized G2B system can massively reduce red taping and corruption. It also helps save precious time and costs that are lost in the bureaucratic processes of conventional government. By establishing transparency and efficiency in the business environments eGovernance opens up prospects for GDP growth and improved resource mobilization.
4. Government to Employees (G2E):
A type of organized interaction that occurs within government hierarchies, between government employees. The largest employer of any country is its government. Essentially, governments consist of multiple employees and actors working towards a unified goal to manage a country. eGovernance innovation makes the interaction between government and employees much smoother, faster, and efficient, directly improving employee satisfaction and reducing bureaucratic disorganization.
The Current Users of eGovernance
A report published by the UN on the global status of eGovernance in 2020 conclusively shows that emerging technology in eGovernment has gone far beyond data collection and data encryption. Digital service infrastructures are now also including state-of-the-art artificial intelligence and blockchain technology.
The report also ranks countries on different levels in categories such as eGovernance usage and acceptance. Countries that are leading the world in eGovernance are Estonia, Denmark, and South Korea.
In Denmark, the goal of the government is to provide a one-stop solution-oriented government app that does everything from registering births and deaths, renewing licenses, business licensing, tax payment, utility bill collection, to booking cabs and hair cut appointments.
In Estonia, the idea of digital democracy has been fully implemented with the whole voting process being solved with a unique blockchain-based voting system. Through digital identity management, Estonia has been using online voting since 2005.
Identity management information systems play a critical role in the implementation of eGovernance strategies. The first requirement for governance is information about the public. For example, if a government has to offer improved services in health care, banking, or education. It needs to know the needs of as many citizens as possible.
By reducing the time between data collection and problem-solving, digital identity management systems allow governments to take far better care of their citizenry. Genetech Solutions has recently completed a project on developing an identity management system for the financial sector. Our learning from the project is that the financial sector is losing out if they are not introducing digital identity management along with blockchain, smart data encryption, and other AI-based solutions. We believe that the level of transparency and security that can be achieved with emerging technology is unprecedented.
Besides Denmark, South Korea, and Estonia, the UN report mentions 193 other countries that are using some form of eGovernance. There is still, however, much ground to be covered, and many new avenues all over the world for sustainably improving government services.
Use of Emerging Technology:
The rise in research and academic efforts on eGovernance machinery and strategies can be traced back to the 1990’s. Recently, owing to the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the impact and benefits of eGovernance have come under the spotlight. Countries like Australia and Singapore have used mobile applications and geo-tracking to implement social distancing apps. The virus has shown that eGovernance can fast-track the health sector. With the use of data collection and analytics, governments can control diseases and viruses and offer treatments in areas that may have been neglected due to human error or unorganized processes.
Digital platforms can be set up for patients who are physically unable to reach medical professionals. Governments can start funding projects for unilateral Learning Management and Teaching Management Systems to assist aspiring students who want to become medical professions but do not have the logistical means to access the necessary education. In fact, Genetech Solutions recently worked on a public sector project for the National TB Control Program. The outcome of this project was a secure, user-friendly, and scalable learning management system to train doctors and paramedical staff on the diagnoses, treatment, and prevention of Tuberculosis all over the country.
Challenges in Implementation:
It is important to consider that eGovernance technologies are still fairly new. As such, there are numerous challenges in the development and adoption of eGovernment services. Surveys collected by the UN highlight the volume, intensity, and nature of problems that a country faces in implementing eGovernance. Although some problems are specific to locales and people, it is important to see that numerous populations across the world commonly face similar major problems:
- Trust Issues:
Around the world, a lot of people do not trust governments and government-led initiatives. The nature of conventional political and governmental frameworks is such that there are always voices of opposition to change to balance the distribution of power. To implement a change that transforms the very face of governance from democracy to digital democracy, would require massive support and trust from the people upon whom the change is being exercised.
- Resistance to Unawareness:
Citizens who have not previously had access to mobile devices and computers are hesitant to learn how to use them. Especially in money exchange and small businesses, electronic or digital services find it hard to gain the trust of the citizens. In quite a few countries around the world, before an eGovernment system is designed, there needs to be massive education accessibility for the public.
- Safety and Security:
Along with trust issues with governments, and resistance to change, there is the very real challenge of safety in online networks. Blockchain services have been around for a very short time, and a significant amount of internet users and finance specialists are still dubious about the safety of the encrypted data on a blockchain. There are genuine safety concerns for identity management systems and encrypted databases, that could put entire populations at risk.
The latest technologies like AI, cloud computing, and blockchain are quite costly. Even for developed countries, the creation of citizen-oriented solutions through technology is quite high. Then there is also the constant effort and time cost of keeping the system active, running, and updated. For developing countries, the latest innovations in technology are simply out of question, since the basic infrastructure is either unavailable or too costly to launch at a nationwide scale. In the long run, the ease of access saves a large amount of time and logistics cost, but the initial investment to develop networks can be unaffordable.
The prospects of eGovernance systems are huge. Latest in innovations in technology are enabling the tech sector to create smart solutions to all walks of life. As such, governments need to be ready to entertain the endless possibilities of a sustainable future through tech. There are various private agencies all over the world that are offering tech support to eGovernment solutions in the US, China, and India.
There are also prospects for various emerging tech markets to set themselves up as eGovernance experts. In Pakistan, startups and tech ecosystems are taking off at an all time high, with emerging technologies like e-Administration, e-Health, Education Technologies, and e-Commerce. At Genetech Solutions we believe that Pakistan’s market is perfect for services that are efficient, simple to use, and cost effective to develop and maintain. With the right steps, eGovernance services from Pakistan could help citizens all over the world.
If you have any questions about our work in eGovernance, or if you have the idea for such a system; contact us!