Technology is constantly evolving. Cell phones that once looked like radios—too large for real portability—now fit in your pocket. Today, technology is all about speed and an endless array of functionality. For years, early adopters defined the market while the government traditionally lagged behind in adopting new technologies. Well, things are changing. New legislation is driving an atmosphere of ‘tech forward’ throughout the public sector.
Modernizing Government Technology: Enacting Change
The Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act is the force driving federal IT modernization. Transitioning the government from paper-based processes to consolidated data centers to the cloud, has been slow. But with the MGT Act providing good incentives, agencies are ramping up their efforts and government modernization is quickly becoming a reality.
The MGT Act requires agencies to spend capital modernization funds within three years to modernize or retire legacy systems. The cost of maintaining legacy IT systems is substantial and should be incentive enough to make the transition – not to mention the operational advantages derived from increased efficiency, speed and productivity.
Beyond ‘standard’ IT modernization lies many new and exciting technologies, which agencies can take advantage of. Many are reminiscent of Star Wars holograms or George Jetson’s flying car. Amazingly, these technologies are no longer conceptual and reflect developmental advances currently underway today.
Adopting AI and Scaling Human Resources
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the latest ‘buzz’ emanating throughout the government. AI is the autonomous performance of tasks traditionally conducted by people that are now completed by computers capable of simulating human intelligence. AI has the potential to transform how government data is managed, analyzed and used. As AI evolves, its use in driving efficiency and accuracy throughout government agencies becomes exponential. One way that AI is currently demonstrating its usefulness within the public sector is as a dutiful ‘soldier’ in the U.S. Military. AI can effectively operate as a tool for training, data processing, intelligence gathering and assessing threats.
Also on the AI horizon are chatbots. Chatbots can improve service quality throughout government agencies by immediately responding to complaints, managing payments and automating routine tasks. This creates a win-win on both sides of the service counter: citizens receive timely, accurate services and the government reduces its administrative burden by reducing costs and enhancing its reputation. Once again, with AI, the realm of science fiction is no longer fiction.
AI’s Next Steps
Core to the concept of AI is a computer’s ability to simulate human intelligence – in other words, learn. Machine learning has the potential to speed up and improve governmental decision making through a process known as ‘predictive modeling.’ Predictive modeling uses data mining and probability to forecast outcomes.
Beyond AI’s machine learning capabilities lay its strengths for effective cyber defense. Attacks from foreign governments, hackers and cybercriminals on governmental systems occur daily. With an endless list of nefarious intent, they attempt to gain access to classified military intelligence, financial data and government-sensitive information to sell or leverage internationally. Predictive analytics and automated threat remediation offers the ability to keep networks safer, reducing the need for individual oversight and the potential for inadvertent responses to erroneous threat signals from abroad.
Among the most visible aspects of AI is its integration into public transportation and safety. As autonomous self-driving vehicles become commonplace, the need to facilitate the public's welfare will face new challenges. The government will be required to provide new, additional oversight to ensure operational integrity and public safety. With proper implementation and monitoring, the U.S. Government will be able to embrace AI and advance the quality of life for citizens in transportation, agency services and national sovereignty.
From Transactional to Transformational
For centuries, governments evolved with the purpose of protecting and fulfilling the needs of its citizens. Today is no different, except that brick and mortar is now silicone and the cloud. The advantages offered through technology are virtually limitless. And with half-lives changing at exponential rates, the next benefit is just a breath away. Given the role of government in our lives, the impact of these changes is as exciting as they are monumental. The proliferation of technology throughout all branches of government is accelerating, and with it comes the promise of improved security, streamlined operations and enhanced levels of service. The future is upon us and it looks bright. I’m excited about the strides our government is making to embrace leading edge technology, and I’m optimistic that the advantages they provide will benefit all of us.
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About the Author: Milo Speranzo
Milo is the director of strategy and compliance for Tech Data Government Solutions, which is dedicated to enhancing the speed, efficiency and technical capabilities among public sector businesses and organizations. In his role, Milo is responsible for driving the strategy, profitability and compliance of Tech Data’s government business. He has more than 20 years of experience in leading and consulting public sector businesses.