The COVID-19 pandemic has forced several governments to re-examine the way they do things, how they interact with their citizens and how they keep their country functioning in these unprecedented times. Digital solutions in areas such as government services, education, the media, communication systems, and the economy have allowed some form of continuity in day to day life during lockdown.
Although most Governments throughout South-East Asia are gradually moving towards complete digitalisation, they are all at very different stages of their digital transformation journey.
And due to the COVID-19 outbreak forcing populations to work from home, to communicate through various technologies, having to access files and documents remotely and citizens needing to carry out essential services online, has highlighted how digitally ready Governments really are.
In some countries like Singapore, the services provided to the public by government agencies have been almost completely digitalised, allowing the public administration to continue functioning as normal even during the Covid-19 crisis.
This challenging time has also highlighted to governments and their agencies where they lag in terms of transformation. It has shown them gaps in their infrastructure and where they should invest. It has helped governments identify where immediate expenditure is needed and also made them look in more detail at future planning and business continuity.
“The pandemic has forced us to accelerate the digital transformation. We’re playing catch-up with the pandemic’s impacts,” said Indonesia Communication and Information Technology Minister Johnny G. Plate in a past teleconference with the Regional Legislative Council’s (DPD) Committee I in Jakarta .
Public Sector Working From Home
Working from home has raised many issues for government, from security, staying connected, having the infrastructure in place so that everyone is able to work remotely, ensuring staff are skilled in using the technology to carry out their roles. These are all digital issues that if were not all ready in place, needed to be fixed in a very short period of time, as most authorities were not given much warning before having to lockdown.
Providing Citizen Services
As governments could no longer provide in person services to their citizens, countries who had many of their services available online were ahead of the game.
Many governments now are putting in digital plans for recovery post COVID-19.
The Vietnamese Government has asked the business community to provide feedback and input to help improve the National Public Service Portal as they are hoping to increase the number of administrative services online.
Using Digital Communication to Reach Citizens
Governments also had to find ways of communicating to all members of society, communicating key information through various platforms, online media, social media and government information dashboards.
Digital communication is key to maximising interactions with the Government to provide authenticated, accurate, and up-to-date information to people on Covid-19 and other public issues.
By adopting digital platforms governments can make it easier for citizens to understand the severity of the pandemic and ensure preventive measures.
The pandemic has lead to almost all government departments making progress towards digital transformation. The one thing that worked during the pandemic is the internet. It has kept citizens connected, kept lines of communication open, kept media from around the world accessible, as well as allowing governments to continue to function, communicate with their people and serve their people.
Therefore, all things digital will be spurred further as a result of the pandemic. Services that can be provided online and can be digitised, will be digitally transformed. It looks like all Governments will work towards that for the future.
It is likely Governments of the future will increase spending on digital infrastructure, adopt data-driven approaches in response to economic recovery, and leverage technology solutions to implement Covid19 strategies.