The Emer­gence of the Smart Econ­omy

Arabnet - The Quarterly - - Technology - By Rita Makhoul | @ram­pur­ple

Cit­i­zens have in­creas­ingly raised ex­pec­ta­tions for con­ve­nient in­ter­ac­tions when it comes to deal­ing with gov­ern­ment en­ti­ties. As a re­sult, gov­ern­ment en­ti­ties around the globe are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly adept at de­ploy­ing dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy to help im­prove the way they serve and en­gage with cit­i­zens. In most cities, the in­con­ve­nient chore to head to the lo­cal gov­ern­men­tal of­fice to ap­ply for a pass­port, re­new ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tions, and so forth, have been re­placed by sim­ply go­ing to the gov­ern­ment web­sites.

Dig­i­tal ad­vances con­tinue to ric­o­chet around the world and gov­ern­ments have been try­ing to keep up. Lever­ag­ing tech­nol­ogy im­proves col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween difffff­fer­ent en­ti­ties and ad­vances the lev­els of ser­vice de­liv­ered to cit­i­zens, whether it’s evolv­ing how users ap­ply for li­censes, cre­at­ing more ef­fi­cient pro­cesses, fos­ter­ing in­creased trans­parency, open­ing up gov­ern­ment-con­trolled data for de­vel­op­ers and star­tups to in­ter­act with. There are sev­eral ways to push gov­ern­ments into the dig­i­tal age.

Gov­ern­ments with proac­tive at­ti­tudes em­brac­ing tech­nol­ogy are catch­ing up with the dig­i­tal age, re­sult­ing in a de­vel­op­ing ecosys­tem of gov­ern­ments and en­trepreneurs work­ing to­gether. Around the globe, trends like mo­bil­ity, cloud and data an­a­lyt­ics, are ad­vanc­ing un­der en­tre­pre­neur­ial think­ing, ag­ile pro­cesses, and open data. The am­ply named “Govtech” and “Civictech” star­tups are hall­marks of in­no­va­tion, help­ing gov­ern­ments step into the 21st cen­tury. Here is a list of such star­tups from around the world:

An open bud­get tool, Open­gov, based out of Sil­i­con-val­ley, has taken the com­plex­i­ties of gov­ern­ment fi­nance and sim­pli­fied them into easy-toread charts, set­ting a new stan­dard for how gov­ern­ments an­a­lyze, share, and com­pare fi­nan­cial data. With Open­gov’s cloud-based plat­form, state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments of all sizes col­lab­o­rate more ef­fec­tively, make smarter data-driven de­ci­sions, and achieve greater trans­parency. In­creased ac­cess con­nects cit­i­zens with se­nior staff and elected lead­ers im­prov­ing trust and di­a­logue be­tween cities and cit­i­zens. And bet­ter tools save time and im­prove de­ci­sion­mak­ing by putting crit­i­cal data at the fin­ger­tips of key de­ci­sion-mak­ers. The re­quest process is dif­fer­ent at dif­fer­ent lev­els of gov­ern­ment, and re­quest forms of­ten must be de­posited in per­son to spe­cific gov­ern­ment lo­ca­tions be­tween spe­cific hours. Nex­tre­quest wants to solve this prob­lem by putting the whole in­for­ma­tion re­quest process online, sav­ing cit­i­zens time and gov­ern­ments money. Also based in San Fran­cisco, Nex­tre­quest is a plat­form that uses the cloud to han­dle the con­stant flow of pub­lic records re­quests and an in­tu­itive dash­board to man­age them all. Out of Ge­or­gia (US), Govsense is de­signed to al­low lo­cal gov­ern­ment to build smarter com­mu­ni­ties. The com­pany’s cloud ERP is de­signed specif­i­cally for lo­cal gov­ern­ment, to em­power ju­ris­dic­tions to de­sign flex­i­ble, easy-to-use so­lu­tions that meet their needs in land use plan­ning, project re­view, reg­u­la­tory man­age­ment, per­mit­ting & in­spec­tions, code en­force­ment, ci­ti­zen re­quests, as­set man­age­ment, work or­der, man­age­ment and more. Ci­ti­zen­lab is a civic en­gage­ment plat­form in Bel­gium on which cit­i­zens co-cre­ate their city. The plat­form fa­cil­i­tates a two-way com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the city and its cit­i­zens. Cit­i­zens post ideas, dis­cuss them with each other and up­vote the best ideas in an easy ac­ces­si­ble way. On the other hand, the city uses Ci­ti­zen­lab to con­sult the opin­ion of its cit­i­zens via polling or to ask their creative so­lu­tions to an ex­ist­ing prob­lem. The plat­form’s Saas so­lu­tion helps cities to tap into the col­lec­tive in­tel­li­gence of the cit­i­zens and be­come more re­spon­sive to their cit­i­zens’ needs. to be­come more en­gaged in their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. Grillo is de­vel­op­ing a new way of de­tect­ing earth­quakes and de­liv­er­ing no­ti­fi­ca­tions to vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple around the world. Grillo has de­vel­oped its own in­fra­struc­ture of seis­mic sen­sors in Mex­ico and plans to reach other coun­tries soon. The sen­sors, de­vel­oped by Grillo, are de­ployed in “sen­sor sta­tions” which send data us­ing In­ter­net of Things tech­nolo­gies (IOT), and are pro­cessed in Google Cloud servers us­ing the com­pany’s pro­pri­etary al­go­rithms. This al­lows Grillo to send ac­cu­rate and geo-lo­cated alerts to all the pop­u­la­tion. Based in San Fran­cisco, Ap­pal­li­cious is an open data visu­al­iza­tion com­pany that cre­ates prod­ucts to help gov­ern­ment bet­ter serve its cit­i­zens. It’s best known for its mo­bil­ity ser­vices in dis­as­ter re­sponse. Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties can eas­ily map their emer­gency re­sources and dan­gers in real time us­ing the Dis­as­ter and As­sess­ment Dash­board. Cit­i­zens can re­quest as­sis­tance, first re­spon­ders can up­date first aid lo­ca­tions, and lo­cal busi­nesses can ad­ver­tise re­cov­ery ser­vices. Ap­pal­li­cious is a leader in cre­at­ing li­cens­able data visu­al­iza­tion prod­ucts that are eas­ily repli­cated for gov­ern­ment and cit­i­zens, of­ten in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the White House, FEMA, states, coun­ties, and city agen­cies.

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