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Using emerging technologies for agile governance

Using emerging technologies for agile governance

Key Takeaways
  • A study in Singapore about the use of technology in Covid management revealed that people’s perception varied based on the type of technology and how it was being used.
  • The use of technology in fostering participatory governance has seen a tremendous uptake in the APAC region.
  • Despite the tremendous efforts of APAC governments to engage and connect with the public using technology, there are large gaps that need to be bridged; inadequate digital literacy, geographic limitations, privacy concerns, etc being a few.

Technology has permeated into every crucial aspect of governance in the APAC region. While the application of technology in the public sector has been immensely beneficial to these countries (by increasing transparency of governance, access to information and decision makers and overall quality of life of its citizens) certain aspects of its application have raised concerns. These are concerns about a lack of privacy and overt government scrutiny.

The attitudes of the general public to the use of surveillance technologies varies on a case to case basis. For example, a study in Singapore about the use of technology in Covid management revealed that people’s perception varied based on the type of technology and how it was being used. People were more comfortable with surveillance cameras than the tracking of individual mobile phones. Generally, in countries such as South Korea and Singapore, there is greater acceptance of tech advancements and a willingness to compromise on some level of privacy. However, the situation in China is quite different. Even though surveillance cameras have been helpful in instances such as tracking of criminals, the public has remained skeptical on the matter.

The application of technology in other aspects of public life has had better success in gaining citizens acceptance. In India, technology has been used to enhance the efficiency of the banking system by increasing the speed of transfer, minimising errors, etc. A similar concept was implemented in Australia’s banking system. This generated a largely positive response from the citizens in both the countries. However, India’s efforts were curtailed by the limited geographical access to banking services, and Australia’s by inadequate digital literacy.

The use of technology in fostering participatory governance has seen a tremendous uptake in the APAC region. Countries such as Japan, South Korea and Singapore have created e-government portals that allow citizens access to administrative documents, white papers, policy evaluations, etc, leading to a culture of transparency and inclusivity. Japan will, in fact, test digital participation in 2022 by facilitating online voting.

The Chinese government has opened up avenues for public participation by encouraging government employees to use social media platforms such as Weibo, WeChat, etc. Nearly 170,000 social media accounts of varying government officials and organisations have become outlets for public opinion on decision making.

Despite the tremendous efforts of APAC governments to engage and connect with the public using technology, there are large gaps that need to be bridged; inadequate digital literacy, geographic limitations, privacy concerns, etc being a few. To know more about the measures taken by governments in APAC countries to create agile governance systems, read our full report.


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