Citizens are holding governments to a higher standard today – expecting agencies to deliver services on par with the likes of Amazon. “People have changed, and technology has changed people,” said Venkat Yerneni, Sacramento’s IT Supervisor.

“They do not want to come to city hall anymore. They want a digital city hall. They want one place where they can log in and finish all their stuff,” he added. Sacramento’s government has partnered with Adobe to create a one-stop citizen experience and enhance trust in digital services.

What lessons does this Silicon Valley innovator have for governments? Chandra Sinnathamby, Head of Adobe Document Cloud, Asia Pacific shares more.

Personalised, flexible services

Sinnathamby points to two major demands of citizens. First, citizens expect personalised, relevant services. “I want to see things that are relevant to my life stage. So if I’m about to start a family, or plan for retirement, what are the government services that are relevant to me?” Sinnathamby says.

Next, citizens also expect services to be flexible. “People are working differently, and there’s no longer the fixed ‘nine to five’ office hours”, he adds. The most ideal time for a parent to apply for government services would probably be at night, after most offices have closed.

Technology will be key to create “personalised delivery of content” and flexibility in government services, Sinnathamby says. Singapore’s LifeSG mobile app, for instance, suggests the relevant citizen services for different life events – such as the birth of a new child, or buying a new home.

The last mile

Governments must also pay attention to the “last mile” of a citizen’s experience with agencies. “85% of all interactions between citizens and government end up with filling up a form and signing a document,” Sinnathamby says.

PDF is the ideal digital format for this. “It represents the document in the way the author intended it to be so there’s no sort of fidelity issues,” he adds.

Adobe’s PDF application is integrated with its electronic signature tool, Adobe Sign. The company saw over 200 per cent increase in demand for its Adobe Sign tool isince the end of last year through August this year.

The city of Sacramento has used Adobe Sign to go paperless. That has allowed citizens to securely sign and process government documents on-the-go, saving time and effort. This has in turn increased the use of the city’s single online “citizen identity” system that integrates across all city departments, eliminating the need for individuals to go to an office in person to sign documents – especially helpful during the pandemic when social distancing is encouraged.
Adobe is also working with nations in Asia Pacific to boost the security further by integrating electronic signatures with national digital identities, like India’s Aadhaar and GovTech’s Sign with Singpass in Singapore, he adds. “You want to open a commercial bank account or sign up for a government service, you can authenticate yourself with your Aadhaar number or log in to your SingPass through facial recognition, and then sign the application,” Sinnathamby says.

AI in PDFs

Adobe is building artificial intelligence to make their flagship PDFs easier to use. This could be a gamechanger for governments. Agencies will be able to measure which documents are being downloaded and reviewed the most by citizens. “That’s the sort of intelligence that we want to be able to provide to governments,” Sinnathamby says.

“We are bringing a layer of artificial intelligence into it to extract and analyse what’s in those documents, what the sentiment is, and then share that insight,” he adds. Agencies could get insights from across documents and forms it sends to citizens, and use that to inform its initiatives and next steps – at scale.

Governments must create personalised content, close the last mile, and to stay engaged with citizens now, and more so in a post-Covid world.