This week, Silicon Slopes hosts its annual Tech Summit where some of the most prominent and leading minds in the industry will share their experiences in disrupting long-held institutions. In my first year as mayor of Sandy, there is one thing that I have found to be abundantly clear: Government is the next institution in need of innovation. As a society, we often expect that our interactions with the government will be burdensome, inconvenient and negative. This is a system that is ripe for disruption.
Even though government is not subject to competition and market pressures, disruptive innovation is possible. With the digital age, people are expecting higher service levels and more convenience. Although there are not traditional market forces to push government to provide the services at the quality and cost customers demand, there are elections. It is imperative to us as elected officials to ensure government services are keeping pace with public expectations, and it is critical that we elect people who will make those expectations a priority.
There are additional benefits to taxpayers that come with disruptive innovation. In 2012, a U.K. study found that the average costs of digital transactions were 20 times lower than telephone, 30 times lower than mail and 50 times lower than in person service delivery. As a local government, we must always do more with less, and cost savings while retaining service levels is our top priority. Increased transparency is a positive byproduct of innovative disruption. As more and more transactions are moved online, there are faster ways to track response rates and more reliable ways to keep records.
At Sandy, my priority since taking office has been to provide an interaction with our residents that is better than they expected, providing a solution instead of a roadblock and reducing the amount of inconvenience that normally comes when dealing with government. We are embracing technology in order to better accomplish that goal. Asset management systems that inform us when repairs need to be made instead of waiting for them to fail, digitizing permits and licensing, utilizing drones to survey accidents and patrol trails, creating an app that allows residents to take a picture of issues needing city attention, automatically generating a work order, are just a few examples of the technology we are currently implementing to improve service levels.3 comments on this story
Public-private partnerships are also needed in order to disrupt our current way of doing business in government. Smart tech people who work to improve processes and products in a market-driven environment would prove invaluable as consultants to local governments. Many of the software programs currently available to governments are difficult to use and are not applied across all departments, creating a patchwork of systems. Making government software platforms more affordable and easier to implement would ensure that smaller government bodies could keep up with the digital era.
Fortunately, we live in a time where technology and innovation are improving every other aspect of our lives. It is now time to use those same principles to create a government that better serves the people to which it belongs.