Governments are notorious for developing high-tech solutions on one end of the spectrum and lagging behind on widespread adoption on the other. With an influx of major technological disruptions in recent years, governments are picking up the pace to quickly implement the gamechangers of our time.
Security is of utmost concern to governments around the world, and citizen feedback in the era of social media is also a priority in order to quell riotous outbreaks before they happen. New technologies are bolstering the utility of each of these government functions.
These are the top five trends in the government tech sector in 2017:
1.Blockchain & Cryptocurrency
Summits have been held all around the globe by major government players to discuss the impact of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, at the time of this writing, is worth $1628. Other cryptocurrencies such as ether are also gaining traction. This poses a lot of new regulatory issues to be discussed.
But blockchain is more than just cryptocurrency. Because it is a distributed ledger technology, it also has uses for government recordkeeping.
For example, the smart city of Dubai is using blockchain to create an efficient, paperless government infrastructure while saving large sums of money.
“Adopting Blockchain technology Dubai stands to unlock 5.5 billion dirham in savings annually in document processing alone — equal to the one Burj Khalifa’s worth of value every year.”
— Smart Dubai AE
2. Mixed reality
Augmented and virtual reality are becoming a very real part of everyday life from entertainment to travel to retail and everything in between. Government is beginning to create and adopt theses technologies for their own purposes, especially as it concerns warfare.
According to Deloitte, the Office of Naval Research created augmented reality glasses that can be used by service people in the field to view video feed, see vitals stats of his or her team, and even send notifications to that team all while still engaging and viewing the surrounding real world.
3. Artificial intelligence
AI has made its way into most all sectors at this stage, and the government is also utilizing this highly disruptive technology. Artificial intelligence can be used to sort and analyze data, much to the benefit of those working in intelligence.
In the field, robotics and artificial intelligence blend to create all-terrain, intelligent bots that can navigate the environment, collect intel, and save lives.
Robo-Tech, for example, has an entire line of intelligent robots that have been deployed in 32 countries worldwide.
Another great example of AI usage by a government entity happened in Las Vegas. According to Governing, Las Vegas officials used artificial intelligence to analyze tweets from locals who experienced food poisoning symptoms in order to determine which restaurants would receive a health inspection.
Artificial intelligence is also used for many advanced biometric systems that are used as security measures in government facilities.
4. Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT is comprised of many everyday items that link to the internet, and the smart thermostat is one of the most well-known examples of this technology.
For governments, IoT can be used in practically limitless ways. According to Government Tech, Colorado has deployed connected IoT sensors along a riverbank in order to track stream levels and advise of potential flood risks.
Drones provide many opportunities to governments, and have obvious benefits within reconnaissance. Overhead intelligence gathering using drones can be more accurate and cost-effective in comparison to other, larger aerial vehicles and satellites.
As with any technology that is capable of reasonably covert monitoring, ethical concerns surrounding privacy have arisen from citizens. The FBI currently uses drones for surveillance, and many citizens have fought back against what they see as a breach of privacy akin to phone monitoring.
Drone surveillance has benefits both domestically and abroad for intelligence collection, and, on a less Orwellian note, they can also be used for safety inspections of government buildings.