#eGovernment

eGovernment digital services spanning a lifetime

Global Trends
6 Mins.

As the world gets used to coronavirus-related apps and tools, governments are increasingly looking to deliver digital services to help with all aspects of their citizens’ lives. Ensuring these solutions can be offered safely and securely is vital to their success

One of the many consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic could be an increase in the availability and use of eGovernment services, from registering a birth certificate through to drawing down a pension.

While remote working and the associated need for real-time digital tools, from video communication to e-commerce platforms, have garnered many business headlines since the coronavirus emerged, the potential for governments to provide more of their own web-based, non-coronavirus-related offerings has received less coverage.

Yet progress has continued in rolling out eGovernment services since the United Nations (UN) started writing reports on the matter in 2001. Its latest survey, published in July, revealed that the E-Government Development Index it uses to rank each country’s progress rose on a global average basis by 0.5 points compared to the last edition in 2018.1​​​​​​​ Denmark tops the index, followed by Korea, Estonia, Finland and Australia.

“The global Covid-19 pandemic has reinvigorated the role of e-government,” the report noted. “The utilization of conventional digital government services is becoming more widespread as social distancing drives online interaction. When face-to-face interaction is impossible or discouraged, digital government solutions become vitally important.”

Growing up with innovation

The most common digital services governments provide to the public currently are registering a new business, applying for a business license, applying for a birth certificate, and paying for public utilities. The benefits include increased efficiency and improved decision-making for public bodies, and better, more accessible services for citizens. While the development of track and trace apps, self-diagnosis tools and e-permits for curfews is in its infancy, it is possible for citizens to benefit from data-driven eGovernment services at every stage of their lives.

“When face-to-face interaction is impossible or discouraged, digital government solutions become vitally important“
United Nations E-Government Survey 2020

Starting at the very beginning, parents can apply for a birth certificate for their child as soon as they are born, via smartphone from the hospital. The certificate can then be saved in a personal digital vault to ensure it is secure, and shared with relevant organizations when necessary.

As the child moves through school and university, digital platforms exist to pay relevant fees and store documents such as exam results and certificates. The same goes for when a young adult needs to register for a driver’s license or national ID card. These important documents can be applied for online and kept in secure, digital storage systems to be accessed by the user as and when required.

Securing life’s most important moments

Even where physical documents, such as passports, remain the default option, digital solutions can complement their usage. Governments are increasingly turning to online platforms so that citizens can renew or report lost passports on the fly.

Digital tax is another area that is gaining a lot of traction around the globe. Once an individual gets a job, in many countries they can now apply for a tax number, fill out tax returns, and upload receipts online. Equally, it is possible to apply for and receive government funding, such as social security and disability benefits, or a state pension, on a digital platform.

Even some of life’s most important moments no longer require time-consuming and expensive bureaucracy. Marriages can be registered and marriage certificates applied for digitally, for example. In times of ill health, it is now possible to schedule and attend virtual appointments without a citizen leaving their home. The same goes for getting prescriptions.

 
Learn about the eGovernment services available to citizens throughout their lives on this interactive website.

Ensuring privacy and security

Much of what is now possible is thanks to innovation in technology. But while high-quality and user-friendly technology is responsible for delivering new services, it also has an important role to play in ensuring citizens’ privacy and security are maintained.

As Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs at the UN, has noted, progress towards the uptake of eGovernment services “is confronted with existing and new challenges and risks, such as cybersecurity and data privacy.”

Thankfully, tools now exist to ensure these threats are mitigated. One example is digital seal technology, which guarantees the veracity of sensitive documents such as medical records or access passes that permit entry to critical infrastructures. At a time when access to trusted information has never been more important, the ability to share key documents from accredited sources quickly and securely is a game-changer.

Companies such as Veridos, which is partly owned by global technology leader G+D, specialize in delivering secure, end-to-end solutions and services to meet every government identity need. If, as expected, Covid-19 ushers in an era of eGovernment expansion and innovation, then making sure data and information are collected and stored securely, and citizens’ privacy is maintained when they use the services on offer, will be vital. As citizens become more used to relying on eGovernment services throughout their lives, it is imperative they are able trust the infrastructure behind them.

  1. E-Government Survey 2020

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