“Some of these swift deployments, however, have surfaced some of the weak points and vulnerabilities in scalability, design, useability and trust in government digital services,” says Lalit. “The MyGov site buckled under the heavy load due to scalability issues – the underlying infrastructure just wasn’t designed to withstand such a massive spike in usage by welfare applicants. This crisis has highlighted the importance of planning and has provided a real-life use case to consider in the future when designing digital services.”
Yet Lalit has been impressed with the speed of the CovidSafe app roll-out despite some of the teething issues. “In my personal view, the government has risen to this sudden unprecedented challenge. It has demonstrated how government can apply digital and data smartly for public good.”
Though, Lalit states, this comes with a caution: “I am hopeful that the momentum will continue far beyond the pandemic, but this requires bold IT leadership, top-level sponsorship, agile approaches and greater collaboration across government and industry.
A refreshed perspective on technology design
Lalit says agencies need to ramp up their enterprise design / architecture capability to make digital and data an integral part of government strategic planning.
“The pandemic has demonstrated how a joined-up government can come together, and collaborate with the industry, to deliver digital services,” says Lalit. “Of course, it requires determination and leadership support, but as the old adage goes, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. The CovidSafe app for contact tracing, the Corona virus information app, telehealth, and the various local government digital initiatives are some examples.
“At the same time, it has revealed some limitations in the existing technology design approaches that do not always consider the flexibility, useability, inter-connectivity and security matters adequately. It has also highlighted, once again, the trust deficit in government.”
Lalit hopes that this most recent experience inspires agency CIOs and executives to build (or re-build) the enterprise design / architecture capability. The intent of this capability is to ensure that the technology design is business-oriented, modular, reusable and clearly traceable to the business outcome.