COVID-19 has offered a glimpse into the future delivery of a broad range of digital government services. Healthcare particularly has been at the forefront of an accelerated shift to digital, with the Australian Government investing $669 million to expand Medicare-subsidised telehealth services to provide quality care for those in need at home.
As an example, let’s take a look at the zero-touch model now in place for COVID-19 testing. Anyone who’s been worried about a sniffly nose or scratchy throat during the past few months starts by calling their medical centre. They then have a telehealth consultation with a doctor who refers them to a drive-through centre.
Without leaving the car, the patient has their temperature and breathing checked, and swabs are taken. If all is well, they receive an automated SMS within 48 hours confirming that the test was negative.
Many elements of this zero-touch model, which could transform access for people in regional and remote Australia as well as vulnerable members of our community, would also be suitable for use in other areas of federal, state and local government. Digital government services could transform everything from welfare and community services to business and financial support.
With COVID-19 increasingly looking like it will be with us for years rather than months, the government has another important reason to prioritise the digitisation of services in these areas. However, reliable service delivery is critical. An accelerated transition to digital delivery demands application and network performance that is reliable and easy enough that people will actually want to use these digital government services.
The New South Wales government acknowledged this long before COVID-19 reared its ugly head when it made a commitment that its digital transformation will be guided by six key customer commitments, including ease of engagement. This is fundamental, given that citizen expectations are increasingly defined by consumer apps with highly functional user experiences.
But the reality is that new apps and infrastructure can drive increasing complexity in terms of integration, visibility and network performance that make it a challenge for government agencies to ensure a good digital experience, supported by reliable performance.
Here are a few focal points for government agencies looking to ensure efficient, secure and easy-to-use digital government services in what we can expect to become an increasingly zero-touch world:
Visibility for digital government services
Understanding what is happening, and where, in the network, is the first step to delivering reliable, high performing and secure digital government services. Agencies need to be able to continuously monitor dynamic networks and infrastructure to ensure application performance and availability.
Deep and broad visibility and analytics will enable IT teams to fully optimise hybrid IT resources, ensure service quality and network security in the zero-touch, digital government service delivery model. With this capability, IT teams can proactively identify and resolve performance issues before citizens and agency reputations are impacted.
Accelerate performance without accelerating cost
Efficiency in digital government service delivery will become more critical going forward in the pandemic recovery phase as agencies are called upon to do more with less. By increasing data performance on the network while reducing bandwidth utilisation, agencies can achieve faster application performance and reduce cost at the same time.
Some believe that SD-WAN is the way to do this. While it’s true that SD-WAN is transforming the way networks are deployed and managed, SD-WAN alone can’t address enterprise application performance. In fact, the overhead assigned to SD-WAN reduces the available payload of each packet. In most cases, additional performance is still required for geographically remote locations such as those in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, the Americas and South Pacific just to mention a few.
WAN optimisation technology is able to make this additional improvement possible, allowing agencies to increase data transfer performance by up to 100 times while reducing bandwidth utilisation by up to 99 per cent across hybrid and software-defined networks. Users have been known to experience up to 33 times faster application performance for on-prem, SaaS and cloud-based apps while costs incurred by cloud egress are reduced by up to 99 per cent.
In other words, SD-WAN and WAN optimisation solve fundamentally different problems. They are complementary when deployed together.
Scalable and ready for anything
As Australia battles its way through a second wave and beyond, it’s expected that COVID-19 will have a lasting effect on citizen expectations of public sector service delivery. The key is to be able to ensure high performance of citizen service delivery applications today while building in the ability to scale to successfully meet the demands of the future—which may arrive at short notice.
To make this less complex and costly, IT teams must ensure that they have access to the right diagnostic and network performance management software to simplify and automate the provisioning and management of secure network resources while maintaining and optimising application performance.
Armed with these capabilities, government agencies can ensure investments in digital services pay off for government and citizens alike at a time when they’ve never been more needed.