Let’s face it; when it comes to innovation the private sector is usually the first to implement new trends and technology. As the private sector advances quickly with technology, many are asking when the government will catch up. Therefore, the subject of innovation is becoming a hot topic and focal point in the public sector. Agencies are researching, testing and developing technology to provide better, faster, technically advanced solutions to respond to a variety of critical missions and citizen needs.
Since a main function of government is to address constituent needs, ways to innovate and improve service is an important initiative that can uncover a multitude of benefits including cost savings, increased efficiency and better constituent service. Whether it is in healthcare, the U.S. Armed Forces, transportation or customer service, agencies are focused on adapting and implementing innovative technology to shape the future of government.
Don’t believe me? Here are some exciting recent examples of how agencies are already changing the face of the public service:
- Healthcare: Imagine if medical professionals and doctors could predict outbreaks or proactively treat patients before they get sick based on clinical data. That time is closer than you think. Healthcare systems are already experimenting with predictive analytics by tracking patient stays, medical records and analyzing physician notes to calculate the probability a patient will have complications, develop additional problems or get readmitted to the hospital. For example, if data shows that there is a 50 percent chance that a patient will develop blood clots and get readmitted after they undergo surgery for a heart attack, the hospital will be able to proactively treat and monitor the patient to reduce the risk and prevent readmission. In fact, according to a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report, the federal government has estimated the cost of readmissions for Medicare patients alone to be $26 billion annually and says more than $17 billion of it is for return trips that could be prevented. The report also states that hospital readmission is one of the leading problems facing the U.S. healthcare system and hospitals are now penalized for high rates of readmission. Therefore, using predictive analytics tools and technology that help identify problems before they happen can help the federal government save money and promote healthier living.
- U.S. Armed Forces: Every branch of the Armed Forces is utilizing technology to increase national security, shape future combat and train soldiers. The federal government is experimenting with technology to introduce robots to combat to keep troops safe and give the Army more power per brigade; decrease fuel costs by developing planes that run on fuel made from sunlight; create invisibility cloaks to hide parked tanks and aircrafts; and use mobile devices to teach more than 3,700 military personnel 25 languages and open the lines of communication.
- Transportation: The talk of smart cities, connected vehicles, electric buses, magnetic levitation trains and driverless cars is all the rage today. Personal and urban public transportation is under transformation due to technology. Not only are the ways in which we travel changing, the way we park is too. Intelligent parking apps and voice recognition technology can identify what parking garage and on-street parking spots are available, how much you will pay and will then reserve a spot for you. Through video analytics and sensor technology, drivers will be able to watch for a light on the outside of parking garage to tell them if the lot is full before they even enter.
- Customer service: New innovative offerings like real-time monitoring tools allow contact centers to handle inquiries with fewer resources and improved quality. These advanced, multi-channel contact tools help service desk agents communicate with constituents instantly and frequently. Through state-of-the-art software and management platforms that increase collaboration, agents have a vast amount of information at their fingertips and can easily become knowledgeable and quickly respond to a variety of customer requests. Since employees are moving so fast, it is important for managers to be able to collaborate and communicate with them quickly. Some contact centers are even implementing gaming techniques to motivate employees, improve manager feedback and increase communication. Advanced analytics have made answering and responding to calls predictable and scalable, helping agencies staff contact centers correctly and cut down on inefficiencies. Contact centers are becoming more mobile and allowing employees to work from home with technology like vPods, a secure video-equipped pod that offers at-home agents a private space to reduce background noise and provides better security for the brands the employees are representing. And don’t think it’s just changing for the contact center staff, citizens can also contact government agencies on many different channels including, social media, online, phone and email depending on their communication preferences.
For the government, partnering with the private sector has proven to be the best way to bring innovation and ensure commercial best practices are implemented. The government has also started to call on citizens for innovative ideas that would transform government processes through contests. It really is true; everyone can make a difference and shape the future of the country. It’s an exciting time for both the private and public sector and I believe that almost every government agency can advance through innovation and they should continue looking for new, ground-breaking ways to change and improve government.