General Information

Advanced technology has penetrated everyday life changing the way people communicate, study, work, shop and rest. New mobile services such as online banking, social networks, Uber, etc., have become a necessity no one can avoid using. With this revolution encompassing all regions and populations around the world, it could not but affect interaction between modern governments and citizens.

 

The ongoing rise of Govtech brings a more functional state that matches today's level of technology development and, most importantly, the demands of technologically-savvy citizens. Accenture research shows that 75 percent of citizens globally say government needs to tackle complex issues by collaborating with them, and 60 percent would themselves take an active role in personalising services. Modern state emulates communication tools used by the modern companies in their communication with clients. In other words, a state wants to be more close to its customers. State transformation can be explained by: 

 

  1. Public Expectations. Citizens have rising expectations as they have grown accustomed to a different kind of user experience and functionality from using consumer-focused apps like Spotify, Uber and Google.

  2. Technologies. Falling technology prices allow smaller companies to deliver cloud-based, mobilefirst services that are as robust and secure as the solutions that were previously the preserve of large corporates.

  3. Government Engagement. Active policies by national and supranational governments are increasing government engagement with startups and subject matter experts (SMEs).

 

The power of GovTech lies in its ability to help governments to govern and innovate more effectively. This includes opportunities such as new channels for engaging and communicating with citizens (CivTech), and platforms that facilitate improved service delivery, and ongoing experimentation with emerging technologies.

 

The list of potential customers for GovTech solutions is also vast, and includes national and supranational governments, federal, state and local governments, cities and regions, state departments and ministries, specialised public agencies and regulatory bodies and arguably also schools, universities, hospitals, care homes, police forces and law courts.

Although GovTech gains traction globally, there is still no scientific definition for this industry. This term includes various industries such as Smart City, E-Gov, CrimeTech, etc. The main goal of the GovTech strategy is to change the relationship between people and the government at two levels. The first task is to share decision-making and city management with citizens. which is being introduced into the philosophy of Government to Citizen (G2C) management. The second task is to transform citizens into partners in every aspect of what is happening in the country.

 

The closest related term is E-government which refers to utilization of Information and Communication Technologies in order to transform relations with citizens, businesses, and other actors. These technologies can serve a variety of different ends: better delivery of government services to citizens, improved interactions with business and industry, citizen empowerment through access to information, or more efficient government management. The resulting benefits can be less corruption, increased transparency, greater convenience, revenue growth and/or cost reductions.

 

According to PwC, GovTech relies on three pillars: 

  1. It’s about new and better ways to enable citizens to engage in their communities and receive the public services they need.

  2. It’s fuelled by new technologies, joining up data and services in a mobile and connected world. 

  3. It’s created by entrepreneurs, innovators and small businesses – often people who have worked in government and the public sector and who can see exciting new ways of delivering public services.

 

Apart government efficiency, another sector GovTech is designed to boost is accountability. As some experts declare, one of the main functions of GovTech lies in deepening the quality of democracy thus possibly restoring long-lost trust in government institutions. This could be achieved by developing voting technology, providing access to the records of government meetings, bringing the ways of effectively using Internet as a communication medium for public debate, etc.

 

All in all, GovTech itself constitutes a driver of change inducing governments to reimagine themselves, their functions, and relationships with citizens ensuring a sustainable future.

Many governments around the world seek to grow their local Govtech initiatives which are usually assisted by dedicated and innovative departments, such as Government Digital Service in the UK, DINSIC, and DITP in France, or Digitaliseringsstyrelsen in Denmark. But Govtech adoption is still significantly inhibited by ossified governmental institutions and their fixed, long-term contracts with the suppliers of obsolete technology. In this case, principal problems standing in the way of GovTech adoption are:

 

  • Startups typically don’t view government agencies as potential clients because government procurement processes are slow (establishing a relationship with the government can take 24 months).

  • The complexity of the contracting process lengthens the time needed to pursue a contract even more.

  • Startups don’t view government work as prestigious because of negative government experiences.

  • Difficulties in finding people with the right skills to support innovation.

  • Lack of political will, fear of failed experimentation.

 

In developing countries, the digitalization of government services (E-Gov) is often requested by international organizations. In order to obtain budgetary support, governments of these countries need to show the progress on their way to democracy and liberal economy. They are simulating the process of development, and E-Gov becomes a part of this simulation strategy. In this scenario, the main obstacles to E-Gov adoption are:

 

  • Government agencies are too rigid for new initiatives. The lack of flexibility precludes the introduction of new GovTech products and solutions.

  • Corruption stops progress. Money spent on digitalization is often spent inefficiently. Favoritism freezes the process of digitization. 

  • Sustainability problems. It is difficult to maintain the products after they were developed and introduced. The E-gov introduction is often supported and monitored by international donors. After the financial support ends, a motivation to sustain the project by the government alone also fades away.