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Energy Efficiency

Tony Mwai (Africa) - Smarter Computing Can Help Governments do More with Less

At its core, government’s purpose is to serve its citizens. A constantly changing world complicates this simple idea with increasing global inter-connectivity, cultural and societal revolutions, and technological advancements. To keep up, governments must evolve the way they do business if they are to meet the needs of those they serve. But without similarly dynamic technology underlying its services, government will not be able to adapt quickly or economically. This has been one of the key drivers behind a recent push by the Kenyan government to digitize its processes. Notably, this July, Kenya became the first African state to launch an Open Data portal named the Kenya Open Data Initiative (KODI); allowing state agencies and citizens enhanced access to the country's data.

Using the portal, it is now possible for parties in both the private and public sector to direct resources more efficiently to areas around the country.  This simple step has effectively allowed users to view different data at national, county and constituency levels. They can compare different data sets, create maps and other visualizations. This move is informed by the fact that now, more than ever, governments must find ways to do more for less. They can thrive, despite the economy, if they shift to smarter computing systems that are designed and optimized to handle the never-ending churn of technological and societal change.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of the Interior released an IT transformation strategic plan that outlines how the government intends to leverage technology to save up to $500 million in taxpayer dollars by 2020. Through an IT transformation, they expect to deliver better service at less cost by greatly reducing the number of data centers and servers, switching to a single email system, and transitioning to the cloud with cloud-based electronic forms and records, as well as content management.

Similarly, the government of Kenya has outlined its own path toward smarter computing that can better meet demands and enable innovation for large-scale change, all at a cost-savings. Kenya hopes to automate all of its processes in order to boost its ability to extend efficient and effective public administration to the people.  This will in turn enhance its financial management and allow for reporting at national and county level. Within the context of the recently passed new constitution, this automation process will allow for the capture and dissemination of statistics on the progressive achievement of the Bill of Rights and social inclusion. As it moves towards this goal, Kenya can lean on the experiences of other countries which reveal that there are three essential characteristics that make up a successful government initiative.


In the second part of this post Tony will go detail, using vivid examples, how governments need to keep up with the changing data and cloud formations.

Tony Mwai is the Country General Manager of IBM East Africa

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