The Pandemic has Dramatically Accelerated Digital Transformation in Public Sector.
If we have learned anything from this global pandemic, it is that digital technology and data are truly critical infrastructure to enable business resiliency and continuity for all governments as they adapt sudden and unexpected changes to “normal” ways of delivering services. With a digital transformation journey already underway, the Government of Canada was able to swiftly pivot operations to deliver critical citizen services securely while simultaneously transitioning approximately 250,000 Federal Public Servants to remote work.
Over the past few months, we have seen incredible stories of resilience and adaptation from governments from coast to coast, that is only possible when you approach challenges with a growth mindset. We are working with them to provide the technology and infrastructure needed to enable remote government access, empower cross-agency collaboration, and deliver trusted secure services for this accelerated digital transformation. Although the task was daunting, critical services remained accessible to both government employees and Canadians, all without sacrificing security or productivity.
The National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP), in collaboration with the Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED)’s Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) program, launched a challenge to Canadian subject matter experts (SMEs) for great new ideas to address COVID-19 needs in areas like diagnostics and testing, patient monitoring and tracking, sanitization and personal protective equipment. This required the development of a new online application portal, through which SMEs could register their technology to assist Canada’s COVID 19 response. By using Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform cloud solutions, the NRC was able to quickly create a new simplistic online portal that allowed Canadian SMEs to submit their proposed solutions in record speed. On April 22, 2020, the application portal went live – only five days after the program was officially announced. By the week of May 11, 2020, contracts were being put in place with recipients and first deposits were made.
In the healthcare sector, the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information moved nearly 4,000 healthcare workers to an Azure Virtual Desktop Environment and Microsoft Teams within five days. This provided their teams with a secure centralized repository for all COVID-19-related guidance, data, and information. Healthcare workers were able to screen patients for COVID-19 virtually, and their supply chain department can now order supplies remotely to ensure frontline workers have the resources they need to stay safe.
Nunavut is 2 million square kilometres and home to 38,000 people in 25 communities across three time zones. With a population as spread out and remote as this, communications, technology, and access to government services are critical. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Government of Nunavut leveraged the cloud to execute three years of digital transformation plans in just three weeks. Public sector employees in Nunavut are providing citizens with improved and expanded secure access to critical services including family services, healthcare, and education, using Microsoft Office 365, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams from their homes.
These are a few examples of how government departments are using technology to empower people, enhance government, and enable societies in delivering services to Canadians, but it is just the beginning.
As we continue this journey from initial COVID-19 emergency response to the start of a recovery and toward reimagining the way the government will work post-pandemic, it’s important that we take the time to discuss where we are right now, what we’ve done, the lessons learned and where we go from here.