How can digitalization be steered and regulated in a direction that is beneficial for public well-being.

K.A.Waruni Madhubhashini

Since the intervention of paper by Tsai-Lun, the industrialized world become thriving with more advanced technologies and it directed the globalized era of the world. The technological cooperation created a new platform together with a globalized mechanism to empower civil society to monitor governments, uncover corruption, overthrow dictators, and even strengthen democracy. Since the world has discovered new technology along with artificial intelligence, data-driven algorithms, and mass social networks, while also developing policies to deal with the threats, such as disinformation, discrimination, and privacy concerns, the world has become more and more complex. Because of this complexity, countries are leveraging the opportunities to the accountability of everything in bits and bytes to enhance the comfort and improve public well- being. Information is a comprehensive framework to digitalized needs and wants along with technological instruments to build up the relationship between governments, administrations, and citizens. Digitalization leads the way to achieve global integrity and prosperity between the governments and civil society to accelerate human progress by bridging up the public institution more accurately and authentic. That is why digitalization should be more strategic in governance and regulated in a direction that is beneficial for public well-being since it is dealing with the democracy of a nation.

Governance is a complex and advanced tool to process decision making, orienting rules and Regulations, collaboration of private and public institutions along with policy formulation. Formulation of a welfare system in which all people will be benefited with innovative technology rather than using traditional methods of governance is much better as we presently live in the 21st century. This newly invented technology has formulated and regulated different perspectives of the governing process. Digitalization and innovative technologies provide a broad array of organizational efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of services. Since the contemporary world is experiencing the worst pandemic situation from coronavirus, every nation-state is taking preventive measures such as nationwide curfews, bans of traveling, and maintaining social distance. Because of the pandemic situation governments of democratic nations are dealing with various difficulties such as movement restrictions, limited access to services and economic instability since mass gatherings have been prohibited to prevent the spreading. Therefore, this is the time at which people realize the importance of digitalization and digital governance compared to traditional processes that were being followed by governments.

Most of the countries around the world have now implemented digital mechanisms to secure the democratic rights of their citizen along with technological strategies. As an example, Singapore believed that data is the heart of the digital government. They have created the digitized platform which is beyond offering government services. In 2014, they have implemented the Government Data Strategy (GDS) premised on principles including data architecture, digital infrastructure, and data education. Around the world, 58% of countries have data protection and privacy laws and Singapore has implemented personal data protection act in 2012. To facilitate people of their nation to accelerate the process of integrating technology into collective efforts to improve lives have implemented modern-day classrooms, hospitals and workplaces, retirement and pension plans, and digitalized cities. Through these technological advancements, public well-being has enhanced and thus the quality of life. Not only Singapore but also some of the world’s leading cities such as New York, London, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Tokyo are using digitalization to secure their quality of services to improve public well-being.

With these digitalized advancements, even spending vacations have been more pleasurable as it minimizes inconveniences and hassle connected with traditional methods of lifestyles. With Google Maps, review sites and other traveling blogs, traveling too has become a lot more enjoyable and consumes less time. Children too have started to learn from home by using digitalized instruments as even the schools closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Trades and businesses are continuously dealing with online websites and other networked accessories. All the data sources are in formatted documents rather than using papers. This is the life people prefer to experience within the digitalized era to improve their quality of life and luxury living styles. To build up a smart nation with people enjoying their rights and opportunities without any discrimination, digitalization will play a major active role in governance. National Digital Identity, E-payments, Moments of Life, Smart Nation Sensor Platform, and Smart Urban Mobility are some examples of these successful projects which are formulated by Singapore to improve the quality of public well-being by digitalization.

To facilitate and improve public well-being, digitalization is the most advanced mechanism in the 21st century. If the government could emphasize the importance of digitalized data and information by implementing new laws and establishing responsible institutions, this will secure data and information from misinformation and other cyber-attacks. Even during this pandemic situation, people realized the importance of having an appropriate digitalized government system to improve public well-being. Sustainable development strategies and policy formulation would consider this essential improvement of the governing system rather than following the traditional system. Political parties and authorities should raise their hands and think tanks should be focused on foresight analysis of modernized concepts to propose convenient policies to formulate a digitalized governing system. Besides, the government should also encourage new investors to implement new technological concepts including smart cities, artificial intelligence which allows more personalized and anticipatory services. Data analytics too will allow more evidence-based and data-driven policymaking, Internet facilities all over the country and smart systems which will go much further in creating a good living environment.

Starting from the top level the digitalized literacy level should be increased by using public and private institutions. This could be created by promoting these mechanisms among civil society and providing more accurate data and information to motivate and attract people towards every possibility of governing instruments. To put this in a positive perspective: it can often take longer to obtain the resources for a project than to build a prototype where the investors and stakeholders are witnessing the paradigm shift of identifying the technology as a strategic source of wealth money. Structural changes, as well as institutional changes and experimentation and implementation units, should be promoted and developed by using human capital of knowledge to deal with digitalization. By implementing a digitalized governing system public policy could be more secured without any discrimination and minor corruption. E- Governing, e-trade, and e-money would be the profoundly enhanced instruments in the society to steer up and regulated in a direction that is more beneficial for public well-being within the recent future.

K.A.Waruni Madhubhashini is a Research Assistant of the Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka (INSSSL), National Security Think Tank under the Ministry of Defence. The opinion expressed in this article are her own and not necessarily reflective of the INSSSL.