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A Look Ahead at 2018

This post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, “The Top 30 Government Innovations of 2017.”

Do you remember when you first heard terms like cloud computing and Internet of Things? They seemed so futuristic just a few years ago, right?

But as the hype winds down and innovations like cloud and IoT become embedded in government’s everyday operations, you’ve probably heard more chatter about the next newest things: blockchain, artificial intelligence for citizen services, virtual and augmented reality and social technology — to name a few.

Expect to hear more about these technologies in 2018.

To build momentum into the coming year and beyond, the General Services Administration launched a new interagency program called Emerging Citizen Technology. The program fosters collaboration among more than 1,500 federal managers, startups, small businesses and civic organizations. The goal is to develop public service modernization initiatives through the evaluation, testing and development of emerging technologies.

The program is gaining traction as more agencies share how they are using emerging technologies and what their plans are for the future. To help advance government adoption of AI, blockchain and other budding technologies, GSA created an online Emerging Citizen Technology Atlas that showcases potential use cases, current programs and resources for getting started with those solutions.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has worked on several proofs of concept based on blockchain technology, with plans to build real applications in 2018. Specifically, the CDC’s Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services is focused on using blockchain to better track opioid abuse.

At the state and local levels, you can expect to see even more uses cases of blockchain and other emerging technologies in the coming year. For example, Delaware lawmakers passed a bill that will allow companies to “create and maintain corporate records, including stock ledgers, on a blockchain to better track and verify stock ownership and improve transaction time,” according to a state blog.

In 2018, there will also be more investments in IT modernization and consolidation. Government agencies are now moving from the discussion and planning phase to actually carrying out large-scale projects that will continue into next year. There will be an increased focus on moving modernized systems to the cloud or operating them using a shared services model.

On the workforce front, expect to see greater efforts geared toward hiring and retaining employees, particularly cybersecurity and IT professionals. This has been an ongoing challenge in government, but the increase in sophisticated cyberattacks is forcing agencies to proactively recruit through on-the-spot hiring fairs and other means that enable them to get job-seekers on board faster.

To augment the workforce, agencies will invest more in technologies like analytics, machine learning and automation. In their most advanced forms, these investments will help to streamline human decision-making, in part by presenting leaders with actionable data.

As agencies familiarize themselves with emerging technologies over the next year, be on the lookout for more pilot programs and use cases that benefit government employees and the citizens they serve.

Find GovLoop’s top 30 government innovations here.

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