When the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Singapore in January 2020, many feared the country was facing a large-scale outbreak. One of the reasons this didn’t happen was because the Singapore government has one of the best eGovernment platforms in the world through which to communicate with its citizens. Combined with a strong healthcare system and effective treatment methods, this intelligent use of communication technologies helped Singapore to see one of the lowest corona fatality rates in the world to date.
Going digital: eGovernment measures in a crisis
Significant changes in lifestyle during the current pandemic have led to speedy and significant developments in digitalization, through a modification of our perspectives and needs. From companies adapting home office policies, even actively encouraging employees to work from home – something that would have been previously unimaginable in many organizations – to governments offering a broader range of digital services, opportunities to expand into the digital realm have never been so prominent.
Credible, transparent, and effective
Over the course of 2020, the world has seen the need to embrace what has quickly become known as “the new normal.” Along with global efforts to find vaccines and antibody therapies, the way forward is for us humans to change our behavior. Governments’ responses to the crisis have shown that eGovernment can offer a broad portfolio of public services to citizens and provide a cost-effective, efficient way to communicate with the public about measures and policies. eGovernment is a means to achieve governance more credibly, more transparently, and more effectively.
A secure, protected vault
Events around the crisis have led to advances within the eGovernment sector by exploring methods to integrate government services with dedicated digital platforms, providing citizens with online access to essential services from wherever they are. These new eGovernment solutions, using digital communication technologies, can provide a multitude of benefits for all citizens.
An important backbone of eGovernment services is a protected individual digital vault: a place in the government’s cloud where a person’s documents are securely stored. These documents can be retrieved and shared at different levels, by and with authorized individuals, companies, or institutions. In the new normal, individual citizens can easily access the official documents in their digital vaults from their smartphones; they can renew passports, view medical records, request and receive prescriptions, and access other government services – all online and, if they wish, without leaving their own homes.
From physical to digital
The application of eGovernment can be adapted to fit various situations and requirements. During a pandemic, essential medical services can be provided digitally, allowing us to schedule doctors’ appointments, talk face to face with medical experts on video, and request and pick up online prescriptions.
Outside our homes, too, eGovernment offers new ways to avoid unnecessary physical contact, using touchless authentication through the digitalization of documents. A law enforcement officer, for example, can now authenticate a mobile driver’s license by scanning a one-time generated QR code, bypassing the exchange of physical documents.
Directly to your smartphone
In the new normal, the provision of eGovernment applications plays an important role in offering efficient essential government services for all citizens, using a secure digital platform.
An official eGovernment platform can be used as an efficient means of communication with citizens – for example, to send official announcements from government authorities via a standardized application directly to citizens’ smartphones. In Singapore, the government provided online advice, support, and regular updates on measures such as mask distribution, testing and tracing programs, and travel restrictions. Compared with the situation in many other countries, eGovernment helped Singapore’s citizens feel involved in implementing measures that would enable the country to remain buoyant during the crisis.
An example of an eGovernment solution is VeriGO® TrueSeal, Veridos’s platform for protecting COVID-19-related documents. Doctors, for example, can issue vaccination reports for their patients on the portal. Based on this information, government officials can then provide a digital seal containing a cryptographically strong signature. The recipients, in this scenario the patients, carry the digital seal on their smartphones. The vaccination status can then be verified by simply scanning the digital seal using another mobile device. Secure, from start to finish – and all without needing to stand in line in a government office.
The ability to change
From online events, to press conferences, to the virtualization of meetings, an increased number of organizations have and will continue to adapt to the new reality, adopting technologies that can help foster effective communication. For the individual employee, too, the new normal looks a lot like a laptop and monitor in their own home, as employers optimize VPN and upgrade the security of virtual meeting rooms.
The drive for innovation is undeniable. The current ecosystem has opened the doors to a range of possibilities and applications to help keep people informed, protected, and safe. Moreover, innovation is particularly imminent within technologies for governments, which aim to provide advanced solutions for public services and policies.