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Virtual government – could your government operate remotely?

posted Mar 23, 2015, 4:47 AM by Jack Marrows   [ updated Mar 23, 2015, 4:53 AM ]

I write this post after reading The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business by Jared Cohen and Eric Schmidt and, The Accenture 2014 Technology Vision.

Globally, virtual and physical worlds are merging, a trend that does not show any signs of slowing. More and more social, business and consumer transactions are occurring in the virtual space creating new efficiencies and vulnerabilities for organisations.  As this shift takes place I believe that enabling government services to operate mostly in the virtual world can deliver a new level of security that was historically not possible.  Virtual government can ensure stability in the growing virtual world even when there is severe uncertainty in the physical world.

This concept can be explored at a high level in the context of two very real scenarios: government stability during civil unrest and government operations after natural disasters. Traditionally in the physical world after a civil uprising or natural disasters key government services have been lost and in some cases important records destroyed. 

A few examples of real consequences following events include:

  • Healthcare (even advice) can become unattainable if hospitals and doctor surgeries are destroyed or unreachable
  • Education is put on hold while physical school environments are unreachable
  • Corruption can emerge in security forces

If a government can continue to function virtually in light of such events from a more stable physical locations the above impacts can mitigated to an extent:

  • eHealth can ensure that patient records are not lost and accessible immediately after a disaster. Furthermore, virtual conferencing facilities can deliver advice where it is needed in an instant.
  • Virtual classrooms ensure learning continues in the direst circumstances. Additional stability can be delivered through the virtualisation of all core education infrastructure such as curriculum materials, student development data and achievement reporting.
  • Virtual security support systems (comms and HR) ensure clear leadership during a disaster and that security personal needs are effectively met – for example they are paid and family looked after. 

The Accenture Technology Vision 2014 identified the trend Architecting resilience:“Built to survive failure”. The vision mainly focusses on the resilience of IT infrastructure but it is clear that current IT developments enables building truly a resilient government services.

HP+S organisations should be asking is “Could your government continue to operate after a significant disaster in the physical world?”

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Jack Marrows,
Mar 23, 2015, 4:52 AM
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