I preach about sustainability an awful lot, but I just read over at Management Insights an article about resilience in the public sector.
It is an interesting topic. Beyond the environmental sustainability issues, resiliency is potentially a great goal for governments, period. The idea embraces the thought that governments should be built as platforms instead of service providers. Building an adaptable, scalable platform would allow for governments to change as their environment changes and to do so quickly. A few examples of resilience?
Demographic changes and population shifts often cause long term policy shifts. Regional increases in human services investments for instance. But often the infrastructure below that is slow to change. The slowness of transit is only adapted to once the complaints pile up. The health solutions may be OK now, but how will folks know when it is feeling the pressure of the increase in population? Do utilities have the ability to adapt to increased usage with additional population or will it take a failure?
If the government platform includes open data as part of the platform and focus on real-time data provisioning, then the feedback loop is shortened. Policy makers can make quicker decisions and citizens can be satisfied.
In terms of resiliency, the platform can remain constant but the applications can shift as needs do. And scale.
The unexpected situation is another one of the most difficult situations that governments face. I was briefing the CDC in the USA a month or so ago and we got into a great conversation. It revolved around political responses to crisis like H1N1. Political folks need to respond visually and energize the government to act in response. Application needs often surface. And then the challenge begins. Setting up a procurement. An RFI. An RFP. Multiple vendor conferences. Objection handling. Internal committees to decide. The decision. More objections. The purchase. The delivery. Unpacking and rack and stack. Burning images. Hopefully concurrent development. UAT. Provisioning. Pilot. Launch. Best time estimate: 6 months. Very unhappy politicians. Very unhappy citizens.
But if the platform exists, the data is available and usable (like OGDI) and citizens and developers know how to use it (API), then response can be as quick as the demand that generated the need. Like Miami 3-1-1 or Hey Gov in San Francisco. A few weeks. Maybe days. And if the need is great enough, hours.
That is the goal in terms of resilient government.