As we look toward the future, it’s clear that public sector organisations will need to continue to adapt and innovate to successfully navigate the constantly-evolving global landscape and changing needs of their end users and constituents.
As we begin 2023, the Amazon Web Services (AWS) worldwide public sector (WWPS) team wanted to share a few of our predictions for public sector technology this year. We hope these predictions will help guide and inspire you as you continue your digital transformation journey.
5 public sector technology predictions for 2023
1. Greater adoption of AI and ML to advance mission outcomes
When AWS started its public sector business in 2010, customers were primarily attracted to the cloud for two reasons: to save money, and to promote efficiencies by hosting websites on the cloud and using cloud storage. These reasons are still important, but public sector organisations are realising additional benefits and potential. Now, a decade later, they’re looking to leverage the cloud for more advanced technologies to drive further innovation and efficiencies, in addition to saving money and resources.
For example, the Zero Waste Zero Hunger (ZWZH) program in South Korea is using data and artificial intelligence (AI) to reduce food waste. At the heart of the program is an AI-based three dimensional (3D) food scanner, which analyses food consumption and provides insights to both cafeteria managers and diners. The scanner uses AI and machine learning (ML) to analyse the leftover food, identifying food waste by type and cost and gathering quantitative data that helps cafeteria managers optimise food inventory, quantity, and menu options. In South Korea, cafeterias implementing ZWZH reduced overall food waste by an average of 30 per cent, while on-plate food waste was reduced by up to 42 per cent.
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In time, we expect that virtually every application will be infused with AI and ML to help drive mission outcomes, lower costs, save valuable time, and more. To get full benefits from ML, it’s important to have relevant and high-quality data to inform ML models. For that reason, we recommend organisations create data management strategies that will continuously improve the integrity, access, and security of their data.
2. Using cloud to improve citizen experiences
Today’s citizens expect a frictionless experience when interacting with the government. Their banks, stores, and hotels do a great job knowing them, predicting their needs, and satisfying them in surprising ways — and they now expect public sector organisations to do the same.
And many are rising to the challenge. For example, more state and local governments are increasingly relying on the cloud to deliver the right resources at the right time, ranging from unemployment insurance to human services.
Los Angeles County, California, has over 10 million residents and employs more than 100,000 staff. The Los Angeles County Internal Services Department (ISD) interacts with county employees and residents via its contact center and provides general IT services to county employees. The county’s legacy contact center presented many challenges to ISD, including long hold times and limited opportunities for automation and self-service. By integrating AWS Cloud services, ISD was able to automate simple service requests to reduce call hold times, provide self-service options that resulted in 17% fewer calls, and save 60% per year over on-premises infrastructure and licensing costs.
In the years ahead, a commitment to enhancing and personalising citizen experiences will become more pervasive as we continue to advance analytics, internet of things (IoT), and ML, and as governments become more familiar with deploying these technologies.
3. Increased access to digital twins and large-scale simulations
A digital twin is a live digital representation of a system and all of its physical and digital components. It is dynamically updated with data to mimic the true structure, state, and behavior of the system.
While the concept of digital twins is not new and dates back to the early days of the space program, the cloud is making the technology much more accessible so all of our customers can build and run simulations at scale. Organisations no longer need special hardware or in-house expertise to reap the benefits.
For example, AWS IoT TwinMaker is a service that allows customers to build operational digital twins of physical and digital systems. The service creates digital visualisations using measurements and analysis from a variety of real-world sensors, cameras, and enterprise applications. And just recently at re:Invent 2022, we announced AWS SimSpace Weaver, a fully managed compute service that helps customers build, operate, and run large-scale spatial simulations.
We’re already seeing public sector customers take advantage of these technologies, like the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. Earlier this year, the school announced a research project designed to create an individual’s “digital twin” using health and environmental data collected from in-home and on-body sensors. Once created, healthcare practitioners use the digital twin to virtually test and evaluate various treatment options and potential outcomes before applying them in the physical world. This is a major advancement that can help deliver precise, personalised medicine based on data collected directly from an individual and their local environment.
As the barriers to entry continue to lower, we predict that more and more public sector organisations will use digital twins to solve their unique mission challenges.
4. Experimenting with quantum computing
Just as digital twins are becoming more accessible to all types of organisation, so is quantum computing. Quantum computers promise to speed up computational tasks that are beyond the reach of conventional computers. And with cloud, organisations no longer need to be one of the world’s largest companies or most advanced research institutions to leverage this powerful technology.
A few years ago, AWS launched Amazon Braket, which enables customers to experiment with different types of quantum hardware. For the first time, Amazon Braket made it possible to compare different quantum technologies side by side and to switch between them by changing only one line of code. We also recently established the AWS Center for Quantum Computing at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), a pioneer in the fields of quantum computation and quantum information; the AWS Center for Quantum Networking, with a mission to address these fundamental scientific and engineering challenges and to develop new hardware, software, and applications for quantum networks; and the Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab, where we are helping customers to accelerate the development of quantum solutions.
While still in its infancy, we believe that quantum computing has immense potential and is something we will continue to invest in. As it becomes simpler for organisations to experiment with quantum computing, we encourage our public sector customers to explore what quantum can do for their mission.
5. Commercialisation of space
The extraordinary growth across the global space industry is creating an incredible opportunity for innovation. In 2021, the space industry grew at its fastest pace in years. And of 1,022 spacecraft placed in orbit during the first six months of 2022, the majority—958—were from the commercial sector.
AWS helps lower the barriers to entry that organisations in the space industry commonly face, including high latency, limited-bandwidth networks, and infrastructure. We’re seeing organisations of all sizes being able to play a part, because AWS gives them the infrastructure, the speed, and the security they need to be successful. Even small organisations can have a big impact by leveraging the cloud for the space missions of tomorrow.
For example, the company Lunar Outpost is using AWS digital engineering tools such as AWS RoboMaker to develop and test a new rover that will autonomously navigate the Moon’s surface and help scientists explore the lunar south pole for the first time. AWS digital engineering tools are integral for testing the robots in a variety of harsh operating conditions in preparation for the first rover’s upcoming launch.
Space innovation can come from anywhere, and we’ll continue to see both government and commercial customers innovate new approaches to space missions.
At AWS, we’re using this time to take stock of lessons learned from the previous year and think big about how we can continue to innovate for customers in the years ahead. Organisations with strong digital foundations have proven to be better positioned to move faster and maintain continuity for those they serve. Having the right tools in place will help organisations prepare and respond to any circumstances yet to come, while also helping drive the next wave of innovation. Our team stands ready to help you use the cloud to accomplish your mission objectives in 2023.
Views expressed by Max Peterson, Vice President – Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services (AWS)