Government services are going digital worldwide
There are growing opportunities for the digitization of government services in Curaçao. Governments around the world are making significant efforts in adopting a digital first philosophy when it comes to providing services to their citizens; more than 130 countries now have online services. For example, Estonia’s 1.3 million residents can use electronic identification cards to vote in state elections, pay taxes, and access more than 160 services online, from unemployment benefits to property registration.
Another example is Turkey’s Social Aid Information System, which has consolidated multiple government data sources into one system to provide citizens with better access and faster decisions on its various aid programs for underprivileged citizens. And the United Kingdom’s gov.uk site serves as a one-stop central information hub for all government departments.
While significant investments are needed for governments to digitize some, if not most, of their citizen-servicing mechanisms, the potential benefits that can be reaped cannot be underestimated.
Here are some of those benefits:
Efficiency and cost-saving
A government agency that wants to go paperless (by transferring all its printed materials into the cloud) will be able to save and share space with other government agencies, as well as reduce its carbon footprint and traffic (e.g.: delivery and disposal of supplies). In addition, government officers can save time when looking for specific documents due to digital indexing, which can further enhance productivity. Estonia, for example, claims to have saved 800 years of working time per year as a result of its digital campaign.
Improved public services
Digitization can improve the quality of life of citizens. An example would be the process of driver’s license renewal. Renewing one’s driver’s license can namely involve traveling to the transportation agency, filling out forms, and waiting in long lines. This entire process can take hours instead of just minutes if the government transportation agency were to embrace a digital approach. Many similar processes, such as those for citizen registration (kranshi), car registration and getting permits, can also be accomplished online.
Digital technologies create opportunities for governments to find sustainable ways to finance public services and infrastructure. This helps them explore new models for providing services, improve the management of resources through smarter spending, and link the money invested in programs and services to the outcomes they produce for citizens. This will boost their accountability and trust among the public.
The implementation of Blockchain technology will accomplish a great deal in this regard as it can help track how money is spent throughout the governmental system. With better visibility of their spending, governments can make better decisions about how to allocate public resources.
So would this work in Curaçao?
The answer is yes. Governments that effectively manage digital transformation will create a world-class quality of life for their citizens, regain public trust and improve their country’s competitiveness within the global economy.
And eventually this realization will trickle down to governments of every country, whether they are industrialized or developing states. Certain services in Curaçao have already started taking steps towards digitization by making their information about their services available online. So the road to achieving a digital first philosophy in the public sector has been paved.
Although total digital adoption will meet with initial resistance, there is no doubt that the global waves of government digitization will eventually wash over Curaçao as well. It’s only a matter of time. So the question actually should not be “Would this work in Curaçao?” but “How soon will this happen in Curaçao?”