By Omar Rafik, SolarWinds Senior Manager, Federal Sales Engineering
Here’s an interesting article from my colleague Sascha Giese on how tech inventions from the public sector can be used to better the world. This has been true for years and remains true today.
According to a recent policy paper published by the U.K.’s Government Digital Service, “Technology innovation is vital for the public sector.” Having the latest artificial intelligence (AI) or cloud abilities can make a huge difference to the type and quality of work able to be produced by organizations such as the NHS and central government, including the potential to truly save lives.
There are already ways in which these technologies are being used in the public sector.
One example of where AI is being implemented to benefit the public sector is in cancer screening. Researchers have developed a device that can use light to detect tiny electromagnetic changes present in tissue when cancer cells develop. This means patients don’t need to experience high levels of radiation when being diagnosed.
Government cloud solutions could benefit a range of organizations by providing flexible and cost-effective services and increasing the ability for collaboration between departments and organizations, leading to better services for the public. It also provides an essential foundation for adopting other technologies, such as AI and big data analytics, which are also in demand.
Big Data Analytics
Predictive crime-mapping is a big data technique beginning to be implemented by some police forces in the U.K. By using previous crime statistics, police officers can estimate the likelihood of a crime occurring in a given location at various times.
How to Turn Transformative Tech Into Typical
As these examples show, a range of technologies currently available can benefit society as a whole if they could all be implemented more widely in the public sector. These innovative technologies can not only save lives, but they can also help save money. The cost savings can be reinvested in other under-funded areas of the public sector, and they will increase efficiency and productivity, as employees save time on the tasks that these technologies are taking on.
However, more foundational work needs to be done to successfully integrate these exceptions into becoming the norm, not the exception. Taking the examples above. For the new AI device used for cancer screening to be rolled out across every hospital, the NHS would require increased investment in new skills for its employees to help them understand how AI can be used to the best of its abilities. And while the Cloud First policy is making great waves in central government, adoption is still not widespread, as many institutions still do not see the overall benefit. For the police, predictive crime mapping is only being used in Manchester and Kent, but the value that this technique could have if carried out in every U.K. police force would be immense. However, it would require more network coordination and insight sharing to become a reality.
It is clear there are challenges facing these organizations that are slowing down the integration process. But what are these, and how can they be overcome?
Understanding the Benefits
Despite the improvements that employees working directly with these transformative technologies are undoubtedly seeing, there can be a lack of understanding at a senior level around how investing in tech now will pay off in the long term. The senior staff responsible for determining new investments may benefit from considering the different developments that are being made, along with taking a step-by-step approach to implementation to ensure that the technology is being deployed in a way that creates the greatest good for the general public.
Across the public sector, there will be a need for increased training for employees to enable them to work with any innovative technologies before they can be introduced. While systems such as AI can take on many tasks themselves, it’s important to not forget the need for employees to monitor and manage these to receive the best results, as most AI still needs to be supervised.
Having the right infrastructure in place is one of the most crucial aspects of tech integration. For an organization like the NHS, for example, being on a predominantly paper-based system means that some newer technologies would be more challenging to adopt, as the technology foundations should be in place before more varied systems are added. Ensuring aspects like the security, longevity, and manageability of a system from the design phase onwards will be critical to ensure that new technologies are deployed effectively and achieving the desired return on investment.
At the same time, these types of management tools will help overcome many of the early concerns that public sector leaders have about new initiatives, such as the ability to demonstrate value, or ensuring security and managing risk. As a result, choosing and deploying these types of tools should go hand-in-hand with new technology deployments to ensure that the public sector is achieving the greatest possible results.
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