Voices from Accenture Public Service


My last blogpost looked at how human services agencies moving into the age of empowerment need to use insight and intelligence-driven processes. In this blog, I’ll explore another key capability: a new citizen engagement model secured by digital trust.

People routinely share a great deal of information about their lives on social channels run by large private companies. However, many citizens are still sceptical when it comes >to sharing the same type of data with government agencies. Why?[i]

Perhaps social services agencies haven’t made a strong enough case for the convenience, personalisation and more proactive services that citizens would receive from sharing that data. Or it could be that people are wary of high-profile data-leaks and hacks, suggesting that they trust the security and privacy infrastructure of private companies more than the public sector’s.[ii]

In this context, trust underpins the move to a new citizen engagement model. This new model will be powered by the combination of humans and AI to achieve better outcomes than either humans or AI could achieve alone.

So, what would that look like in action? Take the Smiths, for example. They have an elderly relative who needs residential care. An AI-enabled system notifies them and their case worker that a facility close to the family’s home has an opening and automatically sends in an application. The system can do this because the family shared their information about their needs and what action they wanted to take if an opening met their needs.

Building a new trust-based relationship with the citizen implies safeguarding their sensitive data, but also being empathetic and responsive to them at ‘moments that matter’. That trust is established when an agency uses data, insight, and AI-support to ‘show that they know you’, provides the right support at time of need, and exceeds expectations of service quality – just like in the Smith family case above.

The Accenture Technology Vision 2018 addresses this in one of the trends this year: data veracity. According to the research, 79 percent of public service executives agree their organisations are basing their most critical systems and strategies on data, yet have not invested in the capabilities to verify the truth within it.[iii] But understanding the truth is vital for social services – it can mean lives saved and significant cost reductions from preventing problems rather than dealing with their aftermath.

So, what are the practical steps agencies need to take to make sure that they are seen as trusted custodians and orchestrators of citizens’ data? In my view, there are many key areas including data integrity, data privacy and security and identity management. Each must be addressed.

To ensure integrity, agencies will need to verify that the information they hold and share with other agencies is accurate and comprehensive. This means partnering with an ecosystem of health providers, employment agencies, social services organisations and educators to create a holistic view of the citizen, and ensure its updated if circumstances change.

Privacy will require a robust governance framework, standards and protocols that moderates access, gives the user more control over what they share and with whom, and audits any changes made.

Identity management will be achieved through increasingly sophisticated techniques, ranging from two-factor authentication to biometrics powered by AI-based sensors, computer vision, wearables and so on.

One of the 2018 Fjord Trends, In transparency we trust, describes how blockchain will become central to creating and sustaining digital trust. Blockchain is inherently transparent and trusted by design, enabling permissioned access to see where information has come from, and records can only be changed with the consent of all parties. By harnessing blockchain, human services agencies will be able to move from providing citizens digital touchpoints to offering them ‘trust points’. Imagine everyone having a personal ‘digital vault’, storing all profile data and interactions with public agencies – such as health records, employment history or tax filings. The citizen could then decide which profile data to share with which agency, based on the ‘convenience or quality offer’ being provided.

In my next blog, I’m going to explore another key capability for the era of empowerment: workforce of the future and an agile organisation.

For more information on the what the Era of Empowerment means for human services read our POV.

See this post on LinkedIn: Empowering a new citizen engagement model with digital trust.


[i] According to the Accenture Citizen Pulse Survey Wave 1 FY18, 2 out of 3 people surveyed globally lack confidence in government’s ability to protect their data.

[ii] “Do citizens trust the government to handle their personal data?”, January 18, 2018, http://www.digitalbydefaultnews.co.uk/2018/01/17/do-citizens-trust-the-government-to-handle-their-personal-data/

[iii] https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-data-integrity-veracity?src=JBCAMP


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