OpenSky, Technology & the Citizen
Written by Michael Cronin, Managing Director at OpenSky.
We in OpenSky have spent 15 years working hard to improve technology in Government. It is one of those things that makes it easier to get up at 6am on that Monday morning when it’s dark and wet (& that’s during the better part of the year here in our green & beautiful Ireland). While Tech is not the full story when it comes to change for a better and safer world, it has its place and we are proud to be a driving force for some of that change in Ireland.
Digital Citizen Tools
Not so long ago, a friend said to me in passing, that since most, if not all Government services are now online, surely the job is done since citizens can interact easily with the services they need. While yes, it’s great that many services are available online for citizens, there is quite a journey to travel before everything is available that’s needed. Take a recent project of ours to enable a new digital way of interacting with Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (DLR) as part of their wider Civic Hub initiative. Yes, DLR already had online methods of interacting with their citizens, however this project not only delivers digital channels to the citizen, but it also completes the digital journey throughout the numerous divisions with the Local Authority, in effect joining the Citizen directly to the responsible department, not just to the initial contact desk.
Then you add the digital tools needed for the Local Authority to efficiently deal with the issue raised by the Citizen, now the digital solution not only supports the Citizen request straight to the relevant department, but it also underpins the resolution of the request and subsequent update to the original requestor. The end result is that DLR are now able to provide a faster service to the Citizen using less resources, whilst providing 24×7 contact channels. A major step up from filling in an online form which sits on someone’s computer screen awaiting action. For more on this topic, you might like to read another of our Blogs about “Minimising Business Impact when Upgrading your Case Management System”.
Collaboration in the Provision of Homeless Services
It is true to say that often Technology is just an enabler for our better safer world. For example, in OpenSky, we provide the technology platform behind Ireland’s response to homelessness. While the technology platform we built, does not give out blankets on cold nights, does not serve food to those in need – as this is managed by the fabulous people working in Voluntary and Government agencies, the system we built allows up to 100 separate agencies, to jointly collaborate in the provision of services to those experiencing homelessness. It underpins the availability of emergency accommodation to those in need and crucially, it allows analysis on how to continually improve our policies in response to homelessness.
“To me it is clearly our responsibility as Technology Innovators to ensure our AI systems reflect business and societal rules of conduct. “
One of the other motivations to face the world on that dark and wet Monday morning, is that when working with Technology, everything is always changing (although sometimes it is a reason not to get up too!). Taking a customer-centric approach to continuously bring value to those who matter most (our customers), we must constantly evaluate and innovate with the best technology options. Some of these are bringing change to how the Citizen experience is in the digital world.
The much talked about Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now, or is definitely becoming, the face of many businesses – which has brought a new level of responsibility for companies like us in OpenSky.
If our AI is deciding, for example, who gets the allocation of a house on the social housing list and that intelligence is evolving, it’s now not necessarily the employee of the Government Agency who is taking the decision on the allocation of housing, but initially a programmer in OpenSky and additionally the ability for the system to self-learn.
To me it is clearly our responsibility as Technology Innovators to ensure our AI systems reflect business and societal rules of conduct. The intelligence programmed by our teams must be transparent in its decisions and open to interrogation and routinely audited. Our AI will work beside the staff in our Government customers, often as a trusted advisor and collaborator, assisting in routine tasks and decision making at all levels. This again brings service efficiencies to a higher level and allows for an exploitation of information to support decision making not previously possible, all positive for you or I as citizens.
Our Goal: A Safer World
The goal for our Technology, is to support that drive for a better and safer world, which enables all people to actively participate in governance and receive the services they need. The advent of AI driven solutions, brings responsibilities for OpenSky – to set standards for what it means to realise a responsible digital eco-system that is transparent in the way it makes decisions, and which creates trust with our customers and citizens.
Am I excited? Yes.
Nervous? Maybe just a little….
About OpenSkyOpenSky Data Systems for Digital Government That Works.
As Ireland’s Only Govtech digital transformation specialist, we deliver future-proofed citizen access and operational efficiency.
Our Govtech business expertise has transformed over 50 public sector bodies in Ireland & the UK. Within transport, waste, housing & health, our systems impact 2.5m people every day & manage 100m digital transactions every month in Government.
Taking a Customer-Centric approach, we equip government teams with scalable and sustainable citizen platforms, shared digital business process information systems, legacy system modernisation and data management services.
Our expertise & approach provides our clients with a path towards increased cost-efficiency, reduced risk of investment and superior citizen services.
Working with the best technologies & MS Gold Certified Partners, we have 15 years of digitising processes, connecting citizens – building a safer nation.