From the lobby to the living room, constituents are changing expectations about how they want to interact with their government.
They don’t want to drive to a facility only to discover they have the wrong forms, forcing them to travel back and forth. They want options. People are increasingly expecting interactions with government to be like interactions with commercial brands — easy, delightful and from the comfort of their living rooms.
Technology is just a piece of this puzzle, but it must be robust, flexible and secure enough to support digital services. And more than that, meeting new standards requires a kind of innovation from state and local agencies. Of course, there are some challenges to overcome along the way.
3 Challenges to Digital Delivery
David Egts, Chief Technologist of Red Hat’s North America Public Sector outlined three challenges in digital service delivery that state and local agencies face.
- Scalability: Think about the unemployment benefits systems that were overwhelmed not too long ago. They were never designed to handle the deluge we’ve seen over the past few years, so they struggled to scale and meet constituent needs.
- Security: On-prem and cloud-native security postures require different mindsets. Applying traditional methods to cloud computing, for instance, won’t be as sound as enabling the latest cloud security and zero trust methodologies.
- Workforce: Attracting and retaining talent, particularly around digital services and cybersecurity, is one of the most difficult challenges for state and local leaders. There is simply never enough talent to go around between the public and private sectors.
To overcome these obstacles, agencies need to be innovative — meaning creative, flexible and smart about the solutions they employ. The kind of innovation they want is taking place in the open-source world.
“The hottest technologies coming from Silicon Valley and around the world are coming to life in open-source communities,” Egts said. “And that’s where Red Hat lives. We harness and participate in open-source engines of innovation and ensure the technologies are ready for government use.”
Open-source tools such as Red Hat’s provide the flexibility to take systems to the cloud, physical and hybrid environments. The platform stays the same, so everything else can change to meet new needs.
A Case Study: Denver
For example, the city and county of Denver was able to support remote employees and continue critical services through Ansible Automation, Red Hat’s open-source IT automation platform.
- It scaled up a collaboration tool to support more than 15,000 remote employees after COVID-19 hit.
- It removed human error from the loop as much as possible in the rapid rollout, reducing security vulnerabilities.
- And it decreased the amount of time to create a communication channel from 20 minutes to less than one, saving 372 work hours for IT staff.
Automation helped Denver sprint, but it is also helping it run a marathon. Delivering services is for the long run, and thanks to automation, the workforce can keep up without burning out.
“Let automation do repetitive tasks for the IT administrator, to free that person to work on the innovative tasks only that person can do, such as improving service delivery and delighting their customers,” Egts said.
This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s guide “How to Provide People-Oriented Services: A Guide for State & Local Public Servants.”