August 31, 2020
As Software Proves Key to Virus Response, the Need to Update Government Systems Becomes Clear
June 11, 2020
Much will be written about the public health response to COVID-19, but the real lessons for government run much broader. In fact, just as the virus disrupted almost every facet of life, its effects cascaded across the public sector.
Government workers were forced out of their offices. Much-needed information and assistance had to be distributed online or via chat. Vital programs had no choice but to go virtual. Central to each response was the IT infrastructure that governments had installed years before the outbreak – or hastily adopted in its wake.
And therein lies a lesson: Governments that had upgraded their technology were better able to continue to serve citizens as we all acclimated to the new reality of stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and working remotely. Already, some lessons are clear.
As Software.org: the BSA Foundation highlights in its new report “The Case for Modernizing IT Now,” software has played a critical role in the COVID-19 response efforts of governments worldwide. However, those responses have been hindered in some cases by a dependence on outdated, legacy technologies to perform basic operational functions and deliver constituent services. Agency heads, chief information officers, and government procurement officials should strike while the iron is hot by prioritizing the adoption of contemporary, cloud-based solutions that will fortify the public sector’s IT infrastructure for the next emergency.
Our report highlights six key areas where federal, state, and local governments can implement forward-thinking software solutions to improve the quality of constituent service, allow for greater efficiency and faster response times, strengthen cybersecurity, and increase agency versatility and resiliency when an emergency strikes.
- Support and expand remote workforce collaboration: Virtual collaboration tools make remote work from anywhere possible and allow organizations to maintain internal and external business continuity.
- Improve the security of telework technology: To protect public workers and government data from cybersecurity threats, agencies must test for stability and security in a variety of operating environments and offer reliable, scalable tools that provide consistent service.
- Enhance digital services and offerings: Agencies should create alternative digital channels such as chatbots to remain engaged with citizens during times of crisis.
- Invest in digital service delivery tools: Improving user-centered design, prioritizing customer service features, and investing in digital, mobile response forms and electronic signatures will help agencies improve citizen services.
- Modernize citizen support operations: Organizations must work to address bottlenecks in traditional communications channels such as phone or email support. Intuitive artificial intelligence, AI-enabled moderation of online channels, and other communications channels can be used to ensure agents can quickly offer access to information.
- Plan and prepare for future disruptions: Technology leaders can prepare for the expected second wave of COVID-19 by planning for potential new risks and considering how technology can help operations run in new ways. Cloud storage, human capital management solutions, database management, and supply chain management software can help organizations prepare for future crises.
To read the full report and to continue to learn more about how software solutions help governments around the world, click here.
Jake Morabito serves as Program Coordinator at Software.org: the BSA Foundation. In this capacity, he provides research, analysis, and project management support for the Foundation’s key organizational initiatives and events.