Governments look for new ways to deliver public services
Visitors learn about city public services at the booth of Ant Financial Services Group at the Fifth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province. [Photo by Zhu Xingxin/China Daily]
Experts anticipate a future where public services are run online under one integrated umbrella, and where big data and artificial intelligence technologies are used to deliver personalized, efficient services, according to a forum held Thursday during the Fifth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province.
The discussion saw guests from around the world explore how to make digital governance and public services more effective and innovative.
"The internet has penetrated into various aspects of life rapidly and had a profound impact on the economy, society, peoples' lives and production," said Ren Zhiwu, deputy secretary general of the National Development and Reform Commission.
"How to use the internet to improve the efficiency of government services and further stimulate innovation have become topics of concern in all countries," he said.
China is just one country looking to utilize internet technology across public services, but it is also the biggest. In recent years, policymakers have looked at ways to make access to public services more convenient, transparent and efficient, for the nation's more than 802 million internet users.
A guideline issued by the State Council, the central government, in July said the country aims to link all government online services into one single network by the end of 2022.
According to Ren, a total of 71 central government bodies and 31 cities and regions had already been incorporated into the network by the end October. More than 1,000 data-sharing interfaces are now in operation.
China will continue to promote the openness of data sharing, firmly implement the innovation-driven strategy, and strengthen cooperation between government and private sectors, said Ren.
"I also hope countries will continuously enhance mutual trust, build a cooperative mechanism and share development experiences," he said.
"We are in the middle of an information revolution, which has brought a rare opportunity for both China and the world," said Qin Hai, inspector and deputy director of the information technology development bureau at the Cyberspace Administration of China.
The official stressed the importance of innovation and new technologies such as cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence, which he said are a potent source of power to lead future social development.
Qin pointed to how China is improving efficiency through its integrated information system, and how by working with data, digital platforms can help make up for the gaps in resources.
He said that the technology can be effectively applied in a number of areas, including market supervision, social management, environment monitoring, and helping the government to deliver better public services.
He said, "We hope all countries will tighten cooperation and connectivity to create prosperity and make the internet more beneficial to the people of the world."
Other experts, companies and government leaders from other countries have also shared their experiences in building up an e-governance platform and presented examples of their practices.
Gabriel Lim, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Communications and Information of Singapore, said they have shifted from an "e-government" to a "d-government", that is digital, and established an all-in-one digital platform for citizens to run around key moments of life, such as getting married, going to school and registering businesses.
He said people and culture are the keys to success, and countries should be open to more talents, and advised giving them enough room to flourish.
Wu Manqing, president of China Electronics Technology Group Corp and an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that as the number of urban dwellers grows rapidly, so does the need for better public services. He suggested an information environment should be set up that covers and connects things, data and people with a new generation of information technology infrastructure that delivers data-centered government services.
According to the 2018 E-government Survey, released by United Nation's department of economic and social affairs in July, more and more governments are turning to the internet to deliver services.
The survey found that all 193 member states of the UN had some form of national portal or back-end system to automate core administrative tasks.
In all, 140 countries had an online service for paying utility bills, 139 for submitting income taxes and 126 a digital portal for registering a new business.