Story sponsored by Infosys.
Australia is putting digital transformation at the centre of its economic plan, with an impressive $1.2 billion Digital Economy Strategy announced at the Federal Budget.
As we continue to cope with the challenges presented by the pandemic, the government's commitment to build on existing digital platforms to better serve citizens in the future has accelerated.
As part of the journey, the nation is faced with the major task of improving its national data sharing capabilities as quickly as possible.
This includes the rollout of the ambitious Digital Identity system, which will provide citizens with a single and secure way to access online government and other services, replacing the need for multiple logins.
The system will make citizen interactions with online government services faster and easier, allowing them the ability to consent and control how personal information is shared between parties.
The streamlined and optimised service would inevitably make public sector engagement easier than ever, while also creating cost efficiencies for the government.
But to really succeed in rolling out Australia's Digital Identity system, it is imperative the government continues its focus on a privacy-first approach to the transformation.
Citizens overwhelmingly want a seat at the table when it comes to the future of digital government services, the latest Infosys survey of 1500 Australians reveals.
Since the pandemic, about 80 per cent of respondents leveraged online government services - and the majority (73 per cent) don't ever want to return to physical centres.
While digital engagement is at an all-time high, more than a third of citizens cite that privacy, trust and security is critical to their continued use.
By enabling control and offering transparency, governments can foster trust among citizens and encourage them to share personal data.
This will help accelerate the rollout of the Digital Identity scheme and ultimately make it a successful citizen-centric program.
Why Australians need a National Digital Identity
A National Digital Identity is one of the most straightforward ways the government can form a holistic view of an individual and their needs - and there's undeniably a strong appetite for the service from the public too.
Half of our respondents (50 per cent) want one central sign-in platform to access all online government services, potentially in the form of a digital identity.
An identification system that includes these improvements can contribute towards simplifying the entire digital economy, encourage user engagement and potentially reduce associated public sector management costs.
The benefits could also extend to the private sector, as a growing number of Australians transact end-to-end online.
With one consistent accredited identity system in use for all online transactions, issues related to privacy, accessibility and fraud can be addressed.
By reducing the security burden for consumers and businesses, people get on with transactions and help boost the economy.
National Digital Identities are being rolled out across the world, with great success already seen in Singapore's Singpass.
It is abundantly clear that the system can improve livelihoods for individuals, support businesses and grow general confidence in public sector services.
How can governments achieve engagement?
Governments have a unique asset in the unbiased, non-sensitive citizen data at their fingertips - but how it can be leveraged to optimise digital engagement experiences relies on citizen consent.
About 56 per cent of Infosys respondents were comfortable sharing personal information online if they knew how it would be stored and used in the future, but 36 per cent are calling for better security measures.
Another 10 per cent would rather not share personal data at all due to concerns that online security systems are vulnerable to weaknesses and breaches.
We're seeing the federal government address this by building on existing Digital Identity legislation to protect biometric information and developing enforceable rules that set accreditation standards.
These changes are welcome safeguards that seem to offer transparency to citizens on how their identities will account for privacy.
It's only by addressing citizen demands and developing progressive legislation that a Digital Identity can operate effectively across state, territory and local governments as well as in the private sector.
Citizen solutions - a key consideration
Finding ways to foster digital participation can be challenging, but there are many simple citizen-led solutions that can support the evolution.
Infosys research shows about a third (31 per cent) want to choose what personal information is shared across government agencies, while almost half (43 per cent) would like better access to pre-filled form technology.
A quarter (24 per cent) want more personalised information and service based on data they provide about their circumstances.
The vast majority (86 per cent) also believe digital services need to be more inclusive to people with a disability and easier for those with low digital skills.
By gathering feedback about how to address social and economic challenges for underrepresented groups, public agencies can better connect with people from various cultures, languages, abilities and communities.
- Infosys "What's Next for Digital Government Services" Research Report
Governments can also take on the challenge of transforming legacy systems onto streamlined, scalable cloud-based platforms.
While this can be a complex process, Infosys experts can find ways to salvage existing government data and policy detail rather than starting from scratch.
Finally, many Australians want government to think outside the walls of the public sector.
Almost half of respondents (47 per cent) want government websites to look and feel more like those in the private sector, while 41 per cent want universities to contribute to the enhancement of digital experiences.
Through cross-collaboration with businesses, academia and the non-profit sector, governments can make use of diverse expertise when reinvigorating digital models.
The Australian government is aiming towards a prominent and successful digital economy that delivers citizens next-generation services.
A Digital Identity system is a logical step towards safer and simpler digital landscape that benefits individuals, the private and public sector.
Policy makers must listen to calls for a self-sovereign identity that allows individuals to own and govern how data is shared and stored.
With genuine choice, consumer confidence and engagement in digital government services will continue to rise, bringing people of all backgrounds along on the journey.
- Allen Koehn is the Vice President and General Manager of Public Sector at Infosys
Story sponsored by Infosys.