How can governments build personalised public services?

By UiPath

Experts from UiPath share how automation can support citizen services.

With only a biometric login, Singapore residents can access over 1,700 digital services. SingPass, a nationwide digital identity management application, allows users to seamlessly connect to an array of government services, from booking health appointments to managing retirement funds.

SingPass is just one example of a growing movement towards personalised services. As technology develops, governments have an increasing number of options to effectively support citizens.

Joel Cherkis, Vice President, Global Public Sector Industry, and Ryan Sim, Head of Sales at UiPath explain why personalised services are a must for governments and how automation can help them reach this goal.

Personalised services as the future

In today’s digital age, businesses provide customers with personalised attention. Citizens are beginning to expect the same of governments — after all, the private sector has proven that technology is not the limiting factor in effective services.

Beyond simply being able to reach the relevant people, modern citizen engagement is also about doing so “in a timely fashion, using the modality they care about,” explains Cherkis. For instance, many citizens today prefer connecting to government services online, rather than “standing in line” at physical service centres.

At the same time, individualised services also mean that governments must reach out to different demographics in a way that best suits them. Take Singapore’s TraceTogether system, a Covid-19 contact tracing tool required for entry into most public areas, Sim says.

Most Singapore residents check in and out of public areas via a TraceTogether application on their mobile phones. Yet, those who cannot do so — senior citizens who may not be comfortable with smartphone features, or children without smartphones — can use a physical contact tracing token, Sim continues. These multiple channels are what allows for effective public services that best meet residents’ needs.

With this in mind, how can governments effectively personalise their services?

Consolidate data

First, governments should ensure that relevant data is stored in a common, central hub, Sim notes. This enables seamless information transfer between agencies.

For instance, tax authorities and retirement funds likely need to make use of similar data on citizens’ incomes and mortgage rates, elaborates Sim. These agencies should be able to easily access the same information.

Ideally, residents should be able to use a single sign-on to access all government services. On the backend, government agencies should also be able to access every application each user has entitlement to, easily pulling out important details to give users the support they need.

Automation can “simply and easily” unify data, Cherkis says. In particular, bots can mirror human actions, completing repetitive tasks like transferring data from one system to another.

But bots are able to do this faster than humans, operating round-the-clock without tiring or making errors. This makes them a valuable asset in ensuring that data is consistent across different systems, he continues.

Break down data silos

Next, governments must actively facilitate data-sharing within the public sector. Agencies independently collect vast amounts of data. This information is often relevant for other agencies, but cross-sharing can be difficult.

Different departments use their own analytics tools and platforms, Cherkis explains. This creates ‘data silos’, where useful data is trapped in inaccessible pockets. In the end, it often falls on civil servants to manually share data, which can be an inefficient and long-drawn process.

Imagine an emergency such as an impending hurricane, Cherkis says. An automated system could use weather data to warn everyone in the path of danger. It could pull school bus information from the education system to coordinate mass evacuations, then screen hospital data to ensure that health systems will not be overloaded.

In a matter of minutes, the system could coordinate what humans may take hours or days to achieve. “The capabilities and technology exist today” to achieve this, Cherkis says. Governments need to proactively equip themselves, before a situation arises that forces their hand.

Double down on mission

At times, officials may want to spend their budget on areas that are immediately relevant to their agency’s mission. This is understandable, but could lead to a reluctance to embrace useful tools such as automation.

Agencies should think more broadly about what citizens need and how to best supply it, Cherkin says. This could allow them to explore innovative ways to become more citizen-centric.

As governments continually access more touchpoints and information about citizens, opportunities to deliver personalised services are growing too. Automation helps agencies minimise repetitive tasks and rapidly pool knowledge, facilitating a responsive, seamless user experience.