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You may think it's an oxymoron, but Gartner says it is possible to have a smart government. The temptation to be facetious is pretty strong here, but after initial skepticism, we found that what Gartner was talking about is 10 different technologies that can make government more efficient.

Smart governments, Gartner says, are governments that integrate information, communication and operational technologies across multiple domains, process areas and jurisdictions to generate “sustainable public value.”

By using these emerging technologies, which were identified at the recent Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Dubai, the taxpayers should get some bigger bangs for their bucks.

Deja Vu?

If the technologies on this list look familiar, it's probably because we came across many of them as part of IBM’s Smarter Planet and, in particular, its Smarter Cities initiatives. That's not to mention the role the technologies are playing, and will play, in the Internet of Things (IoT).

Going back to last January, you may recall that we spoke with Katharine Frase, the Chief Technology Officer with IBM’s Public Sector business, to tease out the difference between Smart Cities and the IoT, given that both depend on the large quantities of information gleaned from interconnected devices. IBM describes Smart Cities as:

…an interconnected system of systems. A dynamic work in progress, with progress as its watchword. Smarter cities of the future will drive sustainable economic growth. Their leaders have the tools to analyze data for better decisions, anticipate problems to resolve them proactively and coordinate resources to operate effectively.

Already, there are many cities worldwide that are following this model and using the technology, but it is clear that with the rise of IoT a lot more technologies are going to be pulled into the mix.

In both cases, Frase said, the emphasis is on data and the use of data to provide actionable insights into human behaviors. If IoT processors takes the information from all kinds of consumer goods, Smart Cities and government take it from the same processors, but combines that information with information from traditional sources.

Gartner, has in the meantime identified 10 technology trends that will have a significant impact on smart governments, assuming that smart government’s are those governing bodies that administer the smart cities. The 10 strategic technology trends for smart government include:

1. Personal Mobile Workplace

While some forward thinking organizations have developed Bring-Your-Own Device strategies (BYOD) that incorporate the organization’s security with the personal device preferences of workers, many other public and private entities have not. Ultimately, organizations will have to allow employees decide how they want to use their devices in tandem with organizational security and data concerns. It appears that what is starting to emerge is a consensus between organizations and workers.

2. Mobile Engagement

Gartner says it has received several inquiries in recent months about the use of mobile and social software in delivering citizen-facing services. Improvements in technology, and pressure from political leadership is driving these developments. However, the kinds of services to be delivered across mobile channels will depend on potential level of automation, immediacy and relevancy of the service. It will also depend on how appropriate it is to deliver information in such a manner.

3. Big Data Analytics

While governments produce huge sets of big data on a daily basis, most are still, using traditional data management methods to keep it under control. However, like the private sector, with the exploding volume of usable data, traditional methods are longer feasible. Smart governments will pull big data concepts and initiatives, as well as the associated technologies, into the public sector.

4. Open Data

Open Data is not, as many think, data that is in the public domain, but rather data that is machine readable and accessible through an API. The development and extension of more data into the realm of open data will lead to new ways of mashing up data from different sources as well as the ability to build new services based on open data.

5. Citizen Data

The evolution of citizen data vaults will offer data users and subjects more control over the way data can be accessed and by whom, within relevant legal frameworks. Citizen data vaults are services that enable users access their data outside the context of a particular government transaction. However, government IT departments still have to overcome issues like interoperability, latency, data availability and reliability. So there is still some way to go before citizen vaults become commonplace.

6. Hybrid IT and Cloud

While governments continue to pursue the agile and economic advantages of cloud computing, the way they do that is changing. According to Gartner, there is a move away from private internal clouds, to public clouds that have been specifically designed for government. Both Google and Microsoft have, for example, already developed email for government clouds. Meanwhile, more-open public clouds are being emphasized in several countries mostly for non-critical CRM-like applications.

7. Internet of Things

As a whole, the tech industry is starting to grapple with the problems that are likely to come with the IoT, but most governments and public bodies have yet to look at the potential of an extended Internet. IBM’s smart city initiative is exploring this with a number of other companies developing technologies for public bodies. However, this is a tech area that is still in its infancy.

8. Interoperability

For smart government to be effective, all data needs to be interoperably obtained from both internal government sources and external public sources. It will also have to be integrated with business operations and performance analysis. To achieve economies of scale, governments have sought to consolidate assets and processes.

9. BPM for Case Management

There are two different types of case management. In decision-centric cases, the purpose of the work effort is to make a decision about rights, entitlements, payments and other citizen-facing issues. In investigative cases, the outcome is uncertain and the purpose of the work effort is to identify interaction patterns among data. Two dimensions -- workflow and data type -- have dragged BPM and enterprise content management vendors into this market.

10. Gamification

Gartner argues that gamification can be used to motivate interactions between citizens and government. Using gamification can increase user interactivity and change behaviors, which in turn increases user interactivity. However, governments planning to leverage gamification must clearly understand the target audience they intend to engage, what behaviors they want to change, what motivates the audience.

While many of these trends are still only emerging, a number of them are well developed and already impacting on the way we work. In this respect, developments around the IoT and Smart Cites are particularly notable even if its unclear as yet how the IoT will develop.