SA: Innovation key to improving service delivery

Government is continually looking for innovators and technology that will help accelerate public service delivery, while also encouraging public engagement.

“We will accelerate our strategy of being early adopters of technologies that promise to reduce the social distance between our people and their government, technologies which improve service delivery, enhance transparency and build trust between government and citizens,” Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said on Tuesday.

The Minister said innovation has been identified as a critical catalyst in the development of South Africa. If harnessed and supported, it can create immense value.

“Innovation will be a key determiner of how we improve the way we deliver services to all our citizens wherever they may be.”

As part of harnessing innovation, Dlodlo said her department will be hosting a Hackathon with over 200 innovative young minds.

The young people at the Hackathon will be given access to vast amounts of data owned by government, with the hope that they will mine the big data to innovate public service.

The best solutions from the Hackathon will be incubated at the Centre for Public Service and Innovation, where they will receive support to scale their solutions to sustainable levels of implementation.

“The Hackathon is our way of opening up the solution ideation phase of public service. It is to make the public service more open and receptive to innovative ideas that might originate from the people. This allows the country to benefit from the creative energies of its young people,” said Dlodlo.

The Minister was speaking in Singapore at the Innovation Labs World Public Sector Conference, which brings together innovators from around the world to discuss public service delivery in the 21st Century.

The conference unites public and private sectors to build contacts, learn from each other and create solutions.

Addressing delegates on the importance of citizen engagement, focusing on innovative ways to involve ordinary people in the decision making processes of government, Dlodlo outlined some of the innovations and technologies that government has already put in place.

These include the izimbizo, Govt At Work videos, Namola, GovChat, E pharmacy, Vukela Mali and the use of social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter by Ministers.

“In the 24 years of our existence, we have made great strides to improve the lives of our people and much more still needs to be done. More South Africans have access to social services, as provided for in the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The Minister will attend several sessions of the conference such as the artificial intelligence (AI) and corporate intelligence solutions for governments and the evolution of the cybersecurity landscape in Singapore.

She will also participate in the discussions on crowdsourcing external expertise and intelligence to deliver innovation, as well as seamless payments across the public sector.

Dlodlo will conclude her visit by holding bilateral meetings with three different government institutions responsible for innovation and e-government in Singapore.