The World Bank and Singapore are working to build a strong global GovTech community to share knowledge for the common good. The Digital Government Exchange (DGX) event in Singapore once again emphasized the importance of human connections.
The successful resumption of the in-person Digital Government Exchange (DGX) event in Singapore – after two years of pandemic disruption – made one thing crystal clear: even as our world becomes increasingly digital, nothing beats the human touch. Personal connections are still at the core of how we live, work, and interact with each other. Public policymaking and implementation are not exempted from this fundamental rule.
At DGX, we demonstrated once again the importance of communicating, collaborating, and engaging with each other, generating a sense of common purpose among peers and public-sector counterparts from across the world. Events like DGX emphasise the importance of community-building, where we come together to create joint values, joint ownership, and joint responsibility as a community.
GovTech can Benefit from Community-Building Approach
At the national level, coordination across sectors and levels of government is fundamental for policy coherence and sustainability across the whole of government. Policy makers need to engage the ecosystem of stakeholders across the government and non-government sectors. Experience has shown that such collaboration is the glue that makes for effective and successful policy implementation and monitoring.
This is even more so at the international level, where close collaboration is particularly important in building GovTech in regional and local communities. When it comes to delivering digital government, each country faces challenges specific to its context. That’s a fact.
But peer learning through GovTech communities is a strategic asset. You avoid reinventing the wheel or making costly mistakes, and gain the potential to leapfrog by learning the best lessons from others who have already blazed the trail.
The DGX Community and Beyond
Organized annually by GovTech Singapore, DGX is an opportunity for the community of Government Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and public sector leaders to share and learn from each other.
Attendees for the 7th edition of DGX this year came from Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the U.S., the United Nations and the World Bank.
This year, the DGX 2022 Working Groups focussed on artificial intelligence (AI), digital identity, and cybersecurity, sharing valuable insights through presentations, discussions, and published reports.
The informal and collaborative nature of DGX sessions has generated frank discussions and cemented the bonds among the participants. The different working groups focused on a variety of issues:
- The AI WG developed a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) of good practices to guide teams in building or procuring AI projects.
- The Digital Identity WG looked at how Verifiable Credentials (VCs) are being utilised by member countries and explored current and future digital identity-related challenges.
- The Cybersecurity WG summarised insights from several months of discussions on governments and the industry roles in Zero Trust.
Singapore and the U.K. co-chaired a World Bank Working Group on Cloud Computing in 2021, which focuses on knowledge-sharing and country-driven co-development of deliverables. This working group also includes members from India, Israel, Japan, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, the UAE and Uruguay. The group discussed the following issues:
- Benefits of cloud and the value it brings to governments.
- Institutional coordination mechanisms and how institutional frameworks are implemented: centralized, decentralized, or hybrid.
- Cloud-First, data classification, data residency, security frameworks, and baseline policies, which refer to the practices implemented to enable cloud computing and manage risks that come with cloud adoption.
- Cloud procurement arrangements including marketplaces versus pre-approved lists and vendor lock-in issues.
Building the Community
The most interesting insight gained from DGX 2022 and its working group discussions is that all of us are trying to solve similar problems and the systems we are now using have made it very difficult for us to succeed. We are our own worst enemy. This probably applies to many other large organisations, and not just to governments.
To really make a difference, we have to remove the roadblocks of bureaucracy, politics, procurement, and culture, and use digitalisation to make life better for our citizens. We can do this only by learning from the best examples and use cases in our community and not by going it alone.
The GovTech Global Partnership (GTGP) was established by the World Bank's Governance Global Practice, supports technical and regional communities with knowledge and solution sharing, discussions on trends, and exploring joint projects.
Likewise, GovTech Singapore will continue to support international community-building efforts, for example, with its Singapore Government Developer Portal, a knowledge-sharing hub for government digital products and services.