Better government starts with knowing your citizens deeply

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Better government starts with knowing your citizens deeply

How can a better understanding of the needs of citizens help to deliver greater citizen value?

At the heart of the UK’s 2017 Government Transformation Strategy lies the ambition to “put more power in the hands of citizens and being more responsive to their needs.” Digital technologies, such as AI, can rapidly accelerate this ambition – in fact, they already are in certain government circles.

It’s an admirable sentiment with one burning question at the core: How can a better understanding of the needs of citizens help to deliver greater citizen value?

Once that question has been answered, the next one is how government organisations can model a more effective use of resources. And how can they do it in ways that make services more efficient, more personalised, lower cost and continually improving through iterative learning about citizen usage?

1. Better understanding what citizens need: Unlocking truly individualised services

Learning about “needs and wants as they evolve over time” at a population level requires an analytics solution that can get inside massive volumes of complex data (or multiple structured and unstructured sources) and use high-speed processing to execute best practice analysis. Analytics-based AI techniques, such as machine learning, will allow policy and service champions to learn from citizen behaviour to create and adapt services and communications channels. And they will be able to tweak and add to the range of services offered as citizens’ needs evolve.

2. Deliver services quickly and at a lower cost

Any major projects that could benefit from increased use of data – especially disparate data – are prime targets for advanced analytics. One such example is Universal Credit (UC). Linking siloed components of the programme, such as the benefits help line and individual casework data, and using AI techniques to analyse these very different kinds of data (voice and unstructured notes), will speed up processes. Departments will also be able to increase the accuracy of decision making and better align the needs of claimants to services. This could help the government to reduce waiting times before UC is paid – currently five weeks. It could also help to claim back the cost of making the helplines free from other government services.

3. Evidence-based improvements to services

With the numbers of citizens using government services, and the variety of channels through which they give feedback, it can be difficult to get under the skin of what the public is really asking for. Advanced analytics is the only way that departments can make use of wholly new sources of data (including social media, voice and video) in order to give far richer context to service use and the need for change and improvement. This will help to create an accurate evidence base for future service investment.

With all citizens using government services, and the variety of channels through which they give feedback, what is the public really asking for? #AdvancedAnalytics Click To Tweet

Is AI already at work for government departments?

It certainly is. Here are just a few of the ways AI is delivering improved services to citizens:

  • HMRC – uses SAS® to improve detection rates and find new opportunities for prevention and deterrence of tax evasion. The additional tax revenues, estimated to exceed £10 billion, will benefit all citizens consuming public services.
  • UK Border Force – uses real-time data-based decisioning to fast-track leisure and business travellers through the airport immigration process in order to deliver an improved customer experience.
  • Passport Canada – uses SAS advanced analytics to predict demand for passport applications and allocate resources accordingly – again, for an enhanced customer experience.

Learn more about what’s possible today. Read our analytics for government paper and visit the public sector page.

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About Author

Roderick Crawford

Director, Public Sector, SAS UK & Ireland

Roderick has 25 years’ experience in international systems and software. He is responsible for driving analytics adoption across all segments of the UK and Ireland public sector. He is the leader of a senior and experienced team delivering value to major government clients through the full range of SAS solutions including advanced and predictive analytics, data management, data governance and visualisation.

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