BY DEEPAK BHATIA.
18th November 2013
As some of you may have heard, the World Bank is in the middle of an extensive change process, with the goal of making us more responsive and nimble in addressing the needs of our client countries. In the ICT Practice, we are convinced that an important part of this process will be to integrate new technology into our operations in a way which is coordinated and informed.
The World Bank’s front-line services can be delivered faster, better, and more efficiently if we deploy key digital technologies and systems as a platform. For example the availability of key ICT elements (e.g. broadband networks, mobile phones, electronic money, digital identities, cloud services, analytics, open data, cyber security, citizen engagement tools, together with relevant policies, laws, regulations, standards, and institutions), can make it much easier to deploy services and achieve greater impact.
As the Bank moves towards a new way of addressing the needs of our client countries, we would like to propose an ICT country systems diagnostic. This would allow countries to leverage these emerging technologies and enable new business models for collaboration between government, businesses and citizens. World Bank Group ICT experts can help government counterparts introduce the relevant elements through different modalities – technical assistance, fee-based services and through World Bank funded projects.
The ICT platform can be described simply as allowing a country to be more cost-effective (cloud infrastructure), be more efficient (business process re-engineering), allow for targeted service delivery (e-Identification systems), provide for a safe digital environment (cybersecurity), facilitate transparency and innovation (Open), be more inclusive (using the mobile platform), allow for insight (big data and analytics) and be accountable (citizen engagement).
Such an ICT platform must not and cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. As such, elements would be a menu of choices, each of which may or may not need to be introduced, subject to country conditions and the local context. Furthermore, this menu of choices will, of course, evolve as new technologies emerge. Additionally, it would be futile to propose technology for technology’s sake, it will be important to ensure that the enabling environment and conditions are in place to facilitate the appropriate introduction of the platform. The ICT platform elements appropriate for each country would need to be determined following an in-depth ICT assessment of the country including policies, regulations, availability of infrastructure, mobile and internet penetration etc.
Additionally, as the Bank moves to a new structure, it intends to field multi-sectoral teams to respond to client demand. This ICT platform, which by its very nature is cross-cutting, will also be appropriate and relevant at the individual project level.
The intent is to adopt innovative and sustainable technologies in government to bring public sector effectiveness and productivity to the next level.