Magazine article Public Sector

Back to the Drawing Board

Magazine article Public Sector

Back to the Drawing Board

Article excerpt

There could be no better example of the transition from the Industrial Age to the Digital Age than the use of Smartgate and its use by NZ Customs at our borders. What used to be a very low tech, time-consuming and open-to-human-error process has now become a high tech, highaccuracy transaction which averages around 18 seconds per person.

The speed of modern chipsets, along with the huge drop in unit prices, has meant it is technically possible to embed microchips, GPS units, modern location-based mapping applications and remote cameras into just about any operation. This has resulted in a huge number of the old manual processes having already been replaced with technology-based solutions, many of which are still very much in their infancy.

Voice recognition systems and scanner technology have meant that all manual input technologies can be fast-tracked and integrated into solution technologies. It is expected that the microchip will catch the human brain for speed and memory capacity within the next decade. That means we will be able to embed into very simple everyday products the equivalence of human intelligence. Fibre optics, and more recent advancements with LED lighting in relation to its capacity for data transmission, have meant that we can move mountains of information over light bands within microseconds.

3D printing and driverless cars were considered bizarre concepts being advocated by nutters only just a few years ago. Now they are an everyday reality, with driverless cars already having been legalised in several states in the USA. For the public sector, this technology revolution has far reaching implications.

Instead of just trying to guess the best location for the building of a new hospital or fire station or school, it is now possible to use high tech information systems that allow for the optimum location of a service unit. These new GIS systems take into account population distributions, a wide range of demographic data, transport and communications networks, and overall demand distribution. It used to be hard to make geographically based decisions using just tables and raw data. But now the fact that we are able to look at the data superimposed on maps and geolocations makes the decision-making process come alive and allows for optimal decisions.

A change in attitude

Instead of information being stored in silos that only a handful of authorised people could access, modern thinking revolves around making as much information publicly accessible so it can be used and reused by just about anyone. …

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