“Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth,” said former US President Abraham Lincoln.

But how can nations create ‘governments for the people’ when it isn’t always obvious what citizens need?

Here’s where data comes in – it’s a powerful tool to reveal citizens’ needs and pain points, says Karn Kongsawat, Qualtrics Country Sales Leader for Thailand and Philippines. He shares three ways governments can harness data to revamp public services.

1. Enhance public transport

Bangkok has been ranked among the world’s worst for traffic congestion. A survey conducted by Kasikorn Research revealed that Bangkok residents spend 35 minutes longer in every trip, equivalent to USD $348 million lost in opportunity cost.

Traffic congestion also generates carbon emissions. The city’s air quality deteriorated to unsafe levels in 2019, according to the Pollution Control Department.

Supachai Tantikom, Chief Resilience Officer of Bangkok, told GovInsider that its key challenges are lack of public transport and increasing private car ownership. Data collected on public transport routes and crowd levels can reveal certain areas or times when there is a lack of services, says Kongsawat. The city can then deploy its buses accordingly.

Qualtrics collects operational (O) data and experience (X) data to tell governments what is happening, and why it is happening, Kongsawat adds. Its XM platform enables agencies to “listen to citizens across all engagement channels to understand their needs and expectations, and then take action based on the insights”.

The platform can collect real-time feedback on traffic flows, he says. In the event of traffic delays, passengers and vehicles can be redirected to an alternative route. Citizen feedback collected can help Bangkok prioritise redevelopments, upgrades, and maintenance as well.

2. Develop patient-centric care

The healthcare industry faces constantly evolving challenges – especially during the pandemic. Hospitals have to rapidly adapt and introduce new solutions, making it essential to understand what’s working and what’s not to enhance patient experience.

Qualtrics helps hospitals collect and analyse feedback data at scale, says Kongsawat. Its XM platform first captures feedback from more than 120 listening sources. Data is delivered back to the hospitals via interactive dashboards, and feedback containing certain keywords is automatically escalated.

Data has also been essential in contact tracing and pandemic control. The Ottawa county’s health department sends a daily text or email for 14 days asking close contacts to share any developing symptoms.

If they don’t respond for three days or mention they’ve been experiencing symptoms for at least two, Qualtrics’ system triggers a follow-up action, says Kongsawat. This has saved the department over 800 hours of staff time, he adds.

3. Boost employee morale

Civil servants play a key role in ensuring successful delivery of public services. As remote working continues for some, boosting morale is key.

Government workers are one of the most likely to say they don’t feel valued by their organisation, a study by Qualtrics revealed. Only 27 per cent have said their employee experience has gotten better since the pandemic.

Collecting employee feedback helps leaders and HR understand gaps in employee experience, says Kongsawat. The agency can then implement processes and programs to enhance employee wellbeing.

Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica used Qualtrics to understand the biggest
challenges facing its employees. It found out employees wanted more guidance on how to
manage their day, and implemented the right programs to achieve that.

Citizen needs are constantly changing. With the help of data, governments can design public services to meet citizen needs, and become a “government for the people”.