Jul 06 2015 Innovators from tech industry work to make the public sector more data-driven
Americans have become increasingly accustomed to intuitive technology and data shaping many aspects of their lives. The public sector has struggled to keep up with the proliferation of technology, while facing increasing demand from the public for more citizen-facing technology and access to information. In response to this need, explains a recent article in Quartz, there has been an influx of technology executives from Silicon Valley to Washington, D.C., to help transform the government into a more modern, data-driven entity.
Innovation in the private sector in recent years, as well as the rapid expansion of the tech industry, are strong drivers in the public sector trend to adapt to this data-driven model. “Governments everywhere are catching on to the fact that a new digital-age ‘normal’ has emerged,” and that citizens expect the quick solutions and easy access to information that they’re used to from other sectors and in other areas of their lives. The government is adapting to this new normal through the creation of data-centric government jobs, including new positions like Chief Data Scientist, and the hiring of many digital innovators from Silicon Valley.
“Governments everywhere are catching on to the fact that a new digital-age ‘normal’ has emerged,” and that citizens expect the quick solutions and easy access to information that they’re used to from other sectors and in other areas of their lives.
Many see the public sector’s potential transformation into a data-driven entity as a promising trend in enabling government to be a more effective agent in cross-sector collaboration, as a key tool in working with partners across sectors is a commitment to information and data sharing.
Interestingly, there are also examples of this exchange between the tech industry and U.S. government working in reverse. Google recently announced its newest project — Sidewalk Labs, “an independent company dedicated to coming up with new technologies to improve urban life.” At the helm is Daniel L. Doctoroff, former Deputy Mayor of New York City for Economic Development. With aims to cut pollution, curb energy use, and streamline transportation, the choice of a public sector leader to drive this initiative illuminates the unique assets that public sector leaders can bring to addressing what we think of as traditional “public” problems.
From these examples, it’s clear that there are complex issues that each sector alone is struggling to address. While it’s often the shared resources, expertise, and authority that we think of as defining intersector collaboration, the exchange of individuals is proving to be an important contributor to tackling these issues, including the task of modernizing the U.S. government. These individuals who are moving between sectors, whether from public to private or private to public, have expertise in the culture, language, and practices of their former sectors, providing them with the ability to address these problems in new and innovative ways.