Citizen data is the heart of digital government service delivery.
Data identifies and defines citizens, it describes their actions, and it provides the record from which their needs can be determined and met.
The data footprint of each citizen evolves over time with every interaction they make with government services. These interactions collectively tell a story of what citizens want from government agencies and can be analysed to find ways to serve them better. The nature of these interactions also speaks volumes regarding how citizen data should be managed, in terms of its availability, performance, and protection.
How this data is managed has become more critical in an era where government agencies find themselves under pressure to digitise all aspects of citizen services. This pressure is coming on two fronts – both from the need elevate service quality to meet citizen’s expectations, and to find efficiencies in service delivery to reduce costs and improve the performance of service providers.
“As citizens experience better digital services across industries such as banking and retail, they come to expect similar digital services from government organisations,” says Roshi Balendran, Public Sector Manager at NetApp. “Government agencies are turning to NetApp to map out their data management strategy and asking what technologies they can implement to deliver better services.”
One critical area for consideration when planning to digitise citizen services is the platforms and architectures used to process and store citizen data.
What was once a choice between on-premises architectures now includes multiple off-premises and public cloud offerings from a range of suppliers. Each new investment brings specific benefits, but also delivers greater complexity, along with the ever-present risk of being locked into a bad decision over the long term.
“For too long now government technology decision makers have been beholden the to the specifics of the platforms they use, and fearful of the complexity that arises from keeping their options open,” Balendran says.
“But now a new approach to digital citizen service creation is possible – one that puts citizen data at the heart of the design process, rather than the platform.”
Beyond platforms and architectures
Public sector technology leaders face a plethora of options for platforms and architectures, from traditional on-premises systems to externally hosted environments and cloud services. These options are evolving rapidly, and now incorporate both private cloud and hybrid cloud models, along with the many different migration models that can deliver them.
“Decision makers must also remember that the demands placed on data will change over time, meaning any decision made today must allow for maximum flexibility, to ensure data can be managed and processed in the best possible way to suit any future service that needs it,” Balendran says.
And as the technology sector has repeatedly shown, there will always be better options available in the future.
Furthermore, the desire to create services that best achieve citizens’ objectives can mean these services rely on data from multiple sources, including those of different agencies. This immediately introduces a new problem, through having to manage data from the multiple platforms and generations of technology maintained by each agency.
“To overcome these challenges, technology leaders must be able to make the best decisions for today, and do so in way that maximises and retains flexibility over time, without locking their successors out of making the best decisions for tomorrow,” Balendran says. “That means being able to put the needs of the data before all other considerations, to ensure that it can always be used to deliver optimal outcomes for the citizens it describes.”
Data at the centre
For more than 30 years NetApp has delivered technology that puts the needs of data first. Although commonly known for its storage appliances, the company’s origin was in data management software, and today it delivers that expertise not only on hardware but across the world’s most popular hybrid and public cloud service providers.
“NetApp can assist our customers to make the best possible decisions regarding where and how their data is managed, regardless of the platform or service upon which it resides – be that on-premises, in a third-party data centre, or within popular public cloud service providers,” Balendran says.
“We do this by providing a unified and standardised data management platform from which customers can monitor and manage the cost, security, and performance of their data. This gives them greater flexibility while also reducing the complexity that accompanies working across multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud environments.”
Customers gain full visibility and complete control across their environment through a common set of tightly integrated management tools and processes. This gives them the freedom to use their data in whatever ways best suit their needs and those of the citizens they serve, with a common set of data management tools across their environment.
“This means services can operate across multiple platforms without the need for specific management skills for each – something quickly appreciated in a world where cloud and data management skills are hard to come by,” Balendran says.
NetApp provides customers with the enterprise data services they need to help them identify and classify data assets and apply security and governance protocols and reporting. Its platform can make real time recommendations for optimising performance and costs anywhere across their environment – on-premises or off – and automatically apply these changes within defined parameters.
This capability can prove highly useful when creating services which draw upon citizen data from multiple agencies. Having a common management framework frees service designers from many of the considerations usually associated with managing each platform, meaning they can focus on the service itself and the needs of the data that it will utilise.
“Our customers can have the confidence to make decisions based on what seems best for them today, in terms of cost, performance, and security, but with the knowledge that if their needs should change, they will not be locked into those decisions,” Balendran says.
A data-centric future
The needs of citizens are constantly changing, and so too are their expectations. This means decision makers must ensure they are designing systems and services which are sufficiently flexible to meet these changing needs, and that do not inadvertently lock them into poor outcomes over the long term.
“By putting the needs of citizen data at the heart of service design, we help public sector customers ensure that any decision taken today will meet the needs of tomorrow,” says Balendran.