Cloud computing services can provide economic efficiency, flexible scalability, ease of service, and enhanced security. As such, cloud computing services can be a tremendous asset for structuring e-Governance systems and delivery for India. For efficient, inexpensive and secure citizen services and active citizen participation, cloud computing offers innumerable advantages. Leveraging the use of cloud computing will also pave the way to a range of future technology innovations in analytics, natural language processing, and machine learning, all of which will help in utilizing the cloud to deliver better governance as India looks forward.
For the government to truly leverage the best that the cloud has to offer, it is essential to have broad agreement on policies that promote innovation, facilitate cross-border flows of data, establish effective security and privacy frameworks, and improve procurement rules while avoiding the imposition of market access barriers.
As the Government of India develops its e-Governance platforms, we strongly suggest the policies mentioned above are carefully considered. Below, we provide some examples of how this approach pays off and of how pioneering central and local governments around the world have been leveraging the benefits of cloud computing. These case studies illustrate the advantages of cloud services and the significant results that come from reforming operations and services through their adoption. These examples also demonstrate improvements in efficiency, both in citizen services and organizational operations, through the adoption of public cloud services.
Cost Reductions and Improved Efficiency in IT Management
Cost-savings is a significant benefit of adopting cloud services. All governments experience the challenge of using funds efficiently to realize e-Governance objectives. The governments listed below succeeded in achieving significant savings through the use of cloud services:
- The State of Arizona in the United States decided to adopt cloud services after recognizing its servers were aging, and was able to save 75% in annual operating costs in its Domain Name System (DNS) solutions to the cloud, in comparison with the previous on-premises environment.
- The State of Illinois in the United States was able to realize user-friendly service for citizens saving more than USD six million in administrative costs by using cloud services and switching from paper-based application procedures to online processes.
- The Government of Canada implemented the largest government re-platforming in the world, succeeding in consolidating 1,500 websites from 91 institutions under one umbrella.
Providing a variety of convenient citizen services and enabling citizen participation
Cloud computing can provide a wide variety of services. By putting the right cloud service in the right place, government agencies can provide quality citizen services and enable active citizen participation in governance decisions.
- The US Department of Health and Human Services established cloud-based services for healthcare.gov upon the implementation of Affordable Care Act, enabling citizens to confirm their medical records and search and apply for medical insurance online.
- The German city of Ulm created an open cloud computing platform, designed to allow citizens to exchange views, build community, and share information interactively amongst government and citizens.
- The Supreme Court of Buenos Aires, Argentina now provides faster, digitized service to citizens with a customized cloud media portal that serves as a repository for all court-related documents. Citizens can access the cases that have been registered electronically and view video recordings on the cloud enabling the court to process cases more quickly and reduce paperwork significantly.
- It is critical for governments to ensure high levels of security while enjoying the convenience of cloud services. Estonia’s government embraced the cloud and is a leading model for e-Government, demonstrating that cloud-empowered e-Government can be both responsive and secure. By allowing as much information as possible to be handled electronically through the use of cloud services, it enabled citizens to receive government services from anywhere and through any device, including personal mobile devices. Upon shifting to the cloud, the government conducted strict data classification and security assessments.
- Likewise, in the United States, the government has concluded that cloud environments are sufficiently secure to enable the United States Intelligence Community to shift its network operations to a cloud environment.
- In fact, not only can cloud services maintain security found in traditional architectures, they can actually improve cybersecurity. Cloud-based cybersecurity can improve intelligence gathering and threat modeling, more effectively block cyberattacks, reduce the lag time between detection and remediation, and create redundancy. A recent Price Waterhouse Cooper research survey found that 59% of businesses adopting cloud services saw improvements in their cybersecurity.
Improving operational efficiency of Government organizations and transforming the work-style of Government employees
To provide quick, satisfying citizen services, government bodies themselves need to improve organizational efficiency.
- In the Netherlands, the city of Hollands Kroon successfully deployed cloud solutions in their municipal government, which has transformed the work style of employees by empowering them to do their work whenever and wherever they want. The city is working to harness the power of fully digitized information to improve decision making.
- The State of New South Wales in Australia migrated government systems to cloud services and standardized the service model upon structuring services for voice, desktop, collaboration platforms, data storage, email services and cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP), succeeding in building a system to share know-how and experience across divisions throughout the government.
- Law enforcement in São Paulo, Brazil has deployed a cloud computing solution enabling the São Paulo police to now get to the crime scene faster—armed with the information they need to fight crime, far more effectively than was possible in the past.
To advance e-Governance in the future, we hope that these international examples will help public sector organizations in India that are providing citizen services to enhance public-private sector collaboration and accelerate the adoption of secure and effective cloud computing services. Successful e-Governance will usher in a new level of transparency, efficiency, and convenience for citizens throughout India, creating a cohesive, interlinked economy primed for growth.
Authored by: Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, Country Manager, BSA| The Software Alliance, India