Why Is A Single View Of The Citizen Imperative To 21st Century Society?
The problem was that nobody ever put them together – leading to a scenario where anything from fraud to serious service failings could go unnoticed simply because the right hand didn’t know what the left was doing.
Fast forward to the digital age
While those individual files might now be stored in electronic format, there has been little progress in linking the data together to form a single, unified view of the citizen. Despite increasing pressure to cut budgets and improve services, on any given day multiple agencies are working with and spending resources on individuals without being aware of each other’s efforts, and this lack of joined-up, integrated action is unnecessarily wasting money on a daily basis.
Because if you look at virtually any state/citizen interaction, there is a strong chance that it could be much more safely and efficiently dealt with if every involved stakeholder knows everything relevant there is to know.
Take the example of a stereotypical troubled family: Dad’s in jail. Eldest son has addiction problems. Mum has health and benefits issues and the younger children are regularly missing school.
Such a scenario could involve any number of agencies including Probation Services, The Department of Work and Pensions, Housing, Social Work and Education. Each of these are striving towards the same aim, but if unable to work fluidly together, cannot be proactive in managing the case.
If data sharing were already a working reality, we could vastly reduce the number of scenarios where a vital component of the civic support structure fails to act proactively because it was not informed of some pertinent detail. Physical meetings between agencies would not be required and the chances of a satisfactory resolution would be greatly increased alongside significant savings in time and resources – creating a situation where, for once, everybody wins.
This is how a single view of the citizen could deliver tangible benefits and improvements to frontline services while reducing waste.
This is not pie-in-the-sky futurespeak, but a very real and practicable possibilty when information is stored and shared via a secure Cloud service. Using the secure platform SMEs and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs can get involved with innovative services, open data standards amplify opportunities for collaboration and different parts of the government can combine to approach issues with a smooth, practical approach to joint operations.
Clearly, not all data held on the citizen would be suitable for sharing, but by using some of the interagency collaboration tools already establishing themselves on the market, stakeholders can choose what they put into the Cloud, sharing only information that has been approved for joint departmental use and effectively preserving both the rights and sensitivities of the individual.
Some commentators in the popular press might choose to paint a single view of the citizen as an oppressive example of state intervention, but in reality this is not a dystopian, Big Brother-like scenario. It is about the effective and timely resolution of issues and ensuring that vulnerable people get help where and when they need it – not until it is too late to do anything except sweep up the pieces.
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