Digitisation has a major impact on how we get out of the current crisis and shape our society in the future. Sharing basic data is crucial, write Jakob Delden and Peter Daniel.
The pandemic has given us the greatest proof of Swedish preparedness and resilience. The willingness to cooperate is good - but the ability to deliver citizen services effectively depends on the ability to share basic data in a secure way.
Sweden was early in the process of digitisation and Swedish authorities have, in many cases, been pioneers. But digital development has contributed to a paradigm shift where the agenda is set by citizens' demands for information and convenience rather than the authorities' own agenda. A conceivable objective could therefore be for authorities to move meetings and other services into the citizens' environment, to interfaces that are not their own. But the big question is whether Sweden is ripe for such a change.
The first challenge is that most Swedish authorities today work in silos. What is needed is a developed digital ecosystem for better collaboration between authorities, municipalities and county administrative boards, which also includes the private sector. A major change is about rethinking where authorities should be located and how they should work together in joint services to citizens and companies.
The second challenge is that the current legislation around information sharing must be modernised as sharing of basic data today is not possible except with special permission from the government.
The third challenge is that most Swedish authorities deal with outdated IT systems. The State Office's investigation and measurement of the authorities' ability in information security showed that about 80 per cent of the requested authorities did not have the right security measures regarding their IT operations or their business-critical IT systems.
In addition, several of these players will also be included in a future ecosystem that handles socially important basic data.
The digital Swedish heritage is thus highly problematic. Especially since it easily becomes a bottleneck that limits the authorities' ability to develop new digital services while at the same time reducing the public's confidence in Swedish authorities.
But everything is not black. Although Sweden has slipped down the list of Europe's leading digital nations in recent years, new initiatives are constantly being created. The Government's assignment to DIGG to lead and coordinate the development of common digital solutions between a selection of authorities and municipalities in 2020 is a concrete example. The solution is based on developing a common IT infrastructure that allows, among other things, the sharing of basic data between systems, which will help save money and improve communication in the public sector.
But why are we talking about this in the midst of a severe pandemic? We have closed large sections of society, we are jointly trying to push down the curve of the infection to avoid collapsing our community-bearing functions such as healthcare and the elderly. Who cares about digitisation right now? We believe that a focus on digitalisation during these times is highly relevant as it gives us insights into the sensitivity of business IT systems, information flows between authorities and access to staff.
In addition, the widespread work on incident management in the current pandemic will provide answers to many questions about how we can use basic data in the future. Given the above reasoning, digitisation will have a decisive impact on how we cope with the current pandemic and then shape our society in the future.
Jakob Delden is a protective security expert at PA Consulting
Peter Daniel is a digital expert at PA Consulting