Cloud-based e-Governance strategy for different countries

According to the EU in 2004, “e-Government uses Information and Communication Technologies in public administrations combined with organizational change and new skills, so as to enhance public services and democratic processes”.

Researches, memorandums, government committees, documentations, etc., have shown beyond doubt that cloud computing can aid E-governments in providing best possible services to stakeholders, citizens, businesses, and generally reduce costs. Cloud computing achieves this by reducing repetitive operations and increasing the effective use of resources in the global arena.

According to the publication of T. Almarabeh et al, in February 2016; Cloud computing technologies have many benefits in different parts of E-government. The benefits of cloud computing are surplus. Let us consider some of these benefits:

  • Scalability and Elasticity: Cloud computing resources such as CPU, servers, hard drives can be purchased automatically in any quantity at any time to fit growing number of users. It can also adjust not just shrinking number of users – this helps to save costs.
  • Availability and Accessibility: Cloud computing applications and information are hosted online therefore it has high availability and citizens can use them at any time and from anywhere. This point emphasis one of the core benefits of cloud services – high availability.
  • Cost Saving: Cloud computing systems do not need to purchase and install the ICT equipment and software on their own building. Cloud services exchange Capital expenses (CapEx) for Operational Expenses (OpEx)
  • Backup and Recovery: Since all the data is stored in the cloud, backing it up and restoring is much simpler than the traditional way. This project the fault tolerance idea of cloud services.
  • Unlimited Storage: Using the cloud, you have access to unlimited storage capacity.
  • Green technology: Cloud computing is also good in energy consumption and provides eco-systems through virtual services.

Due to the benefits of cloud computing, international governments such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, China, India, etc., see “cloud services as an opportunity to improve business outcomes because it helps to eliminates redundancy, increasing agility and provide ICT services at a potentially cheaper cost”.

Furthermore, these different countries are at different stages of cloud adoption for E-governance. Let us consider the cloud-based E-governance strategy by the United Kingdom and India. In addition, we will see how some countries have implemented cloud-based solutions in E-governance.

United Kingdom

In 2011, the UK government published its ICT strategy which covered cloud computing and involved reducing ICT costs for governments, optimizing the use of data center infrastructure, and increasing public sector agility using G-Cloud (Government Cloud).

According to the report on Government Cloud Strategy, 2011; “the vision of G-Cloud is for government to robustly adopt a public cloud solution first policy, though this may not be possible in every case. Simply buying cloud technology won’t, in itself, save the most money. The best value will be gained by the Government changing the way ICT is bought and operated.”

To effectively implement this, a strategic shift will be required from the government to adopt this new approach with new skills and new working arrangements. The G-Cloud Programme will help the government concentrate on delivering strategic themes and establishing the ongoing capability to exploit and manage cloud commodity services. The G-Cloud strategy will help rationalize existing provision, reduce bureaucracy, cost, management overheads, define and manage the ICT landscape and common service management, etc.

As regards the implementation of this strategy, the document noted that the G-Cloud Programme is a responsibility of the CIO Delivery Board who drives the successful adoption of cloud computing and commodity ICT by government. The Programme is governed through a Delivery Board, aided by key working groups and boards for the various elements of the Programme.

 

Figure 1: UK’s G-Cloud Strategy role structure         Source: UK Cloud Strategy Document

Lastly, as a way to measure success, a set of metrics have been established for the government cloud Programme. These will demonstrate transparently how the impact and successful implementation are going to be measured. This is presented in the figure below (this is directly gotten from the UK’s Government Cloud Strategy document).

Figure 2: UK’s G-Cloud Strategy key metrics      Source: UK Cloud Strategy Document

You can read the 24-page document here.

India

India’s proposed E-governmental cloud as reported by researchers at the Indian Institute of Information Technology in 2013, provides a complete infrastructure for the implementation of government services including administrate and regulatory and social welfare. They opined that every cloud model has its own benefits and level of assurance for implementing e-governance in India.

As reported, the cloud strategy for e-governance in India is based on dedicated cloud for their specific services designed for E-Governance. The cloud model mentioned above offers the low-cost computing resources that are suitable for the implementation of e-governance.

The layered implementation of the cloud computing model for e-gov in India covers the following areas:

  1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  2. Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  3. Software as a Service (SaaS)
  4. Customer Services
  5. E-Government service management and security management

Configuration of layers for e-Governance

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): The following will be configured in this layer:

  • Server Hosting
  • Internet Access
  • LAN/WAN
  • Storage
  • Data management
  • Computing hardware
  • Delivery Network Service (DNS)
  • Web Servers

Platform as a Service (PaaS): The following will be configured in this layer:

  • Knowledge management
  • Data mart
  • Instrument and testing
  • Content management

Software as a Service (SaaS): The following will be configured in this layer:

  • Web Applications
  • Meta data management
  • Portal services
  • Enterprise services
  • Workflow
  • Human management
  • Human Resource
  • Communication
  • Groupware
  • Collaboration

In all, the government will provide citizens various services like customer relationship, web management and business support through its government cloud. In this way, it will be the responsibility of the government cloud to standardize services. In the long run, this cloud model will provide a cost saving cloud computing structure for the e-governance.

SWOT analysis of the India’s proposed Cloud based e-Governance strategy

Strength

Weakness

·         Ability to scale up services

·         Ability to handle time-related computing (elasticity)

·         Reduces maintenance cost, infrastructure cost, and energy consumption

·         Full access control over access mechanism

·         Low level of literacy

·         Shortage of skilled/qualified people for implementing e-government projects

·         Data protection and compliance

Opportunities

Threats

·         Easy and quick availability and accessibility of e-governance, even by rural areas

·         Interoperability and data portability

·         Without the support of legislators, cloud e-governance cannot be implemented

·         Lack of standards in cloud technology.

One key point from these two strategies is the cost-saving advantage of implementing cloud-based e-Governance models. In the next article, we will delve deeper into how government can save costs by implementing a cloud-based e-Governance strategy.

Let us consider how other countries have implemented e-Governance in the cloud and some of the projects.

Australia

As reported by T. Almarabeh et al, in February 2016 in Australia, several agencies have commenced pilots/implementation in order to evaluate the potential of application, platforms and infrastructure cloud computing in the bid to seek innovative ways to deliver government services. Some of these agencies and their works are:

  • West Australian Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF): In August 2010, DTF implemented private cloud.
  • West Australian Health (WA Health): WA Health implemented a private cloud. This was announced in August 2010 and anticipated competition for WA Health data centers was in April 2011 and June 2011.
  • Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC): DIAC implemented a hybrid cloud to deal with important issues which were centrality versus distributed centers.
  • Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA): AMSA implemented a public cloud. This department adopted cloud computing of pilot-cloud based application on Force.com, which is a vendor platform.
  • Australian Government Information Management Office (AMIGO): AMIGO adopted the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud computing delivered models. The data sets on the data.gov.au were moved to the public Amazon cloud. The data.gov.au and govspace.gov.au websites were also moved to a private cloud.

In fact, an article by McKinsey & Company published in September 2020 on “Automation in Government: Harnessing technology to transform customer experience” specifically noted that; “the Australian Tax Office (ATO) provides an example of automation-driven reliability and simplicity that has helped to build amazing customer experience. ATO is a leading agency with respect to orienting around customer (citizens) satisfaction. In a qualitative survey conducted, citizens strongly approved of the ATO’s highly automized tax-return process, and rated it among the best Australian federal government services based on a customers satisfaction metric, the CSAT score.” Citizens can now take just a few minutes to complete their ATO’s tax returns through the automated system.

One key benefit of this automation is in the area of customer feedback. As stated by McKinsey & Company; “Call-center volumes were automatically monitored. This allowed for rational allocation of resources based on informed forecasts of future traffic. Inbound calls are transcribed using speech-recognition software, which were automatically reviewed for emerging trends. This process allowed the ATO to see potential problems in its services, and provide call-center staffs with the latest information to deal with trending customer queries. This ensured that citizens enjoy reliable service, receiving adequate and accurate information.” All these are possible using cloud services.

Germany

According to a blogpost on Lexology on Cloud Computing in Germany; it was stated that in 2016, the German government established a project called ‘federal cloud’ and since then many German government agencies rely on this ‘federal cloud’. The federal cloud offers all service models including IaaS (e.g., Federal Cloud Server), the PaaS (e.g., Federal Cloud Development Environment), and SaaS (e.g., Federal Cloud Runtime Environment) and is to become the standard for Federal authorities. This is really an amazing work.

The Federal cloud ensures that all data are stored on servers within Germany. Additionally, Federal and regional public authorities use cloud services offered by Private German and global providers.

In the article by McKinsey & Company published in September 2020 on “Automation in Government: Harnessing technology to transform customer experience” noted that the German Federal Employment Agency has made it easy for citizens to register themselves as unemployed even during the COVID-19 crisis, through the service automation.

Before the crisis, registration required in-person visits to the agency. However, due to several factors like, desire to limit physical encounters, lower availability of civil servants to staff offices during the crisis, and so on applicants can now use ICT and cloud services like PaaS (download an app) that guides them to record a video of themselves and to make images of their identity document. Using cloud-based technology, customer experience is being enhanced precisely as citizens are not needed to make any inconvenient in-person visit rather, they can enjoy a remote application at a far-simpler convenience.

Kuwait

In 2006, Kuwait established its cloud computing. With this, they have achieved several projects involving data infrastructure which are needed to develop E-government that incorporates relevant official establishments. This has helped create a data network that links over 56 governmental bodies, sharing electronic documents and data at a very high speed. Kuwait’s aim of using cloud computing is for easy data recalling and storage.

The above clearly shows that developed and developing countries of the world are turning the cloud way for effectiveness and efficiency.

In conclusion, E-government systems based on cloud technology are the current direction in online services and information around the globe. Cloud computing is working to break down the barriers of many governments which has helped them enter new phases of collaboration and partnering, sharing services, and pooling resources. Cloud based services makes it easy to share information between citizens while reducing the efforts in providing services, budget management and cost-effectiveness.

In general, implementing E-government with cloud computing provides this overall strategy and techniques to manage E-government content. In the future, we will consider how the government can benefit from cloud services in more details. We will also consider how to implement E-government services using cloud computing by giving some suggestions on how to select the most effective services in the cloud in order to achieve the best implementation of E-government using cloud computing.

References

Almarabeh, T., Majdalawi, Y.Kh.  and Mohammad, H.  (2016). Cloud Computing of E-Government. Communications and Network, 8, 1-8. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/cn.2016.81001  

Automation in government: Harnessing technology to transform customer experience.

Link: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-and-social-sector/our-insights/automation-in-government-harnessing-technology-to-transform-customer-experience

Cloud Computing Strategic Direction Paper (Opportunities and applicability for use by the Australian Government) April, 2011. Link: https://docplayer.net/1644106-Cloud-computing-strategic-direction-paper.html

Cloud Computing in Germany. Link: https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=ff94b8d9-e252-4c45-a432-b83789355c95

Grönlund, Åke and Horan, Thomas A. (2005) “Introducing e-Gov: History, Definitions, and Issues,” Communications of the Association for Information Systems: Vol. 15, Article 39. DOI: 10.17705/1CAIS.01539 Available at: https://aisel.aisnet.org/cais/vol15/iss1/39

Kumar, Manoj & Shukla, Manish & Agarwal, Sonali & Pandey, G. (2013). An E Governance model using cloud computing technology for Developing Countries. Link: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/262105425_An_E_Governance_model_using_cloud_computing_technology_for_Developing_Countries

UK Government Cloud Strategy. Link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/266214/government-cloud-strategy_0.pdf

Almarabeh,  T., Majdalawi, Y.Kh.  and Mohammad, H.  (2016) Cloud Computing of E-Government.

Communications and Network, 8, 1-8. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/cn.2016.81001 

Almarabeh,  T., Majdalawi, Y.Kh.  and Mohammad, H.  (2016) Cloud Computing of E-Government.

Communications and Network, 8, 1-8. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/cn.2016.81001 

Almarabeh,  T., Majdalawi, Y.Kh.  and Mohammad, H.  (2016) Cloud Computing of E-Government.

Communications and Network, 8, 1-8. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/cn.2016.81001 

Leave a Reply