How to rebuild citizen trust & unlock the power of AI

How to rebuild citizen trust and unlock the power of AI
How can governments overcome citizens’ declining levels of trust in the way that their data is collected and used?

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), “service performance, citizen satisfaction and public trust are closely connected. Yet how can governments overcome citizens’ declining levels of trust in the way that their data is collected and used in order to improve service accessibility and quality? It’s not difficult to appreciate this cynicism given the implications of the recent Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal.

Is citizen trust really in free-fall?

Yes. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2017, there has been a record fall in trust across organisations that play a key role in our society. Specifically, trust in the government is just 31 percent.

KPMG’s data trust deficit poll backs up this finding, suggesting that citizens have a lack of trust in the public sector collecting and using their data. Over a third (37 percent) think information security is the biggest challenge.[1] This is disappointing given that a recent study shows that millennials fully understand the value of their own data and are more than happy to share it in return for free products and services they deem valuable.[2]

However, we also know that using artificial intelligence (AI) to unlock the insights in citizen data will have a huge impact on our economy. In addition, government organisations will only learn how to transform service quality if they can use AI to learn from citizen data. The pressing question, therefore, is how can government improve trust with citizens?

Millennials fully understand value of own data and are happy to share it, but still record fall in trust in goverment collecting and using data. How to improve trust? #AI #CitizenIntelligence Click To Tweet

We recommend focusing on four main areas:

  1. Enhance existing regulations. Make it clear that the 2017 Data Protection Bill gives citizens an opportunity to “complain” to a regulator with teeth – one that can and will take action.
  2. Promote the benefits of sharing. Make it clear to citizens, at every point of interaction with government, what they will get from sharing more data. The health care sector has success in this area. For example, the 2016 Future Health Index report found that 71 percent of oncologists across 13 countries share patient data electronically. The benefits included helping individuals know their status; alerting on whether action needs to be taken; indications on whether the individual is undertaking a treatment correctly; and aids to help people stick to routines.
  3. Be seen to be the citizen’s data guardian. We welcome the proposed harmonisation of UK regulation with European law, such as the General Data Protection Regulation, which came into force this year. There is, however, a greater opportunity to position government as the ultimate guardian of data by deploying best practices for data collection and use in association with industry.
  4. Convince industry of your trustworthiness. The Infrastructure and Project Authority (IPA) reported that a quarter of the UK government’s major IT projects are at risk of failure. We recommend refocusing on the benefits of outcomes and recalculate the value expected from private sector partnerships. Analytics can help many governments benefit from such modelling because it can be both scalable and repeatable, saving time and money, while improving the accuracy of value calculations.

SAS is working with many government organisations in the UK, Ireland and around the world to transform data into insights that allow them to identify what is working and resolve what is not. This is helping to boost departmental performance, reduce costs, streamline processes and mitigate risk.

A key component, in addition to advanced analytics, is sophisticated data management capabilities.


[1] Ibid.
[2] Analytics for the Future: The New ‘Data Generation’. A fundamental change in how industries interact, prosper and evolve.

To find out more visit our public sector site.


About Author

David Downing

Central Government and Healthcare Director, SAS UK

David has been working with the public sector for over 15 years, building technology based partnerships focused on client and citizen value. He's experienced in the challenges of IT transformation. David was previously Director of Health at SAS UK, focusing on how SAS can enable improved health outcomes and reduce costs across the NHS. His responsibilities included solution development, demand creation, development of go-to-market strategy and building proof of value and strategic partnerships. His role has been expanded to manage a team who focus on helping Central Government within the UK understand the value of the data it holds together with how to gain intelligent insight for informed decision making. David has a detailed understanding of the challenges across health and government and how analytics can transform citizen and patients.

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