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Celebrating UN Public Service Day as we build back better

Marc Reinhardt
23 Jun 2022

Today is United Nations Public Service Day: A day to celebrate the work of the public sector, its employees, and the contribution it makes to our communities. This year, the day is focusing on the role of public institutions and public servants in building back better from COVID-19 as they work to meet the 2030 deadline for implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This theme of continuous improvement resonates with my colleagues here at Capgemini. We constantly ask how we can we help our public sector clients use digital and data to deliver better services quickly, safely, and more securely while, crucially, achieving broader societal outcomes.

So, as we rightly celebrate what the UN describes as “the value and virtue of public service to the community”, it’s also important to ask how public sector organizations need to adapt and evolve in the coming decade to become even better at addressing the big challenges we face.

An entrepreneurial and more strategic approach

I believe the sector needs to become more entrepreneurial, more strategic, more focused on solving grand challenges. This latter point is about being mission oriented and harnessing technology to benefit society. There needs to be a stronger focus on sovereignty, whereby public service organizations, regions, or governments take control of their digital future to deliver a sustainable, equitable society for future generations.

This is not some speculative ideal. Many public sector organizations are already harnessing data and technology to deliver better outcomes and increased trust in government. The global response to COVID-19 is a case in point. It has demanded an entrepreneurial spirit and willingness for the public and private sectors, technology players and citizens, to collaborate and use data in new and innovative ways.

Collaborating for better outcomes

Capgemini’s work with the UK’s tax, payments and customs authority HMRC as the pandemic took hold reflects this spirit of collaboration. Working with HMRC and a small number of its IT partners, we rapidly delivered a digital service to support the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), completing work within a month work that would typically take up to a year.

Likewise in Spain, we developed a federated learning platform enabling three hospitals to collaborate in a research study based on sharing AI models trained with image data. The outcome was faster, more accurate diagnosis of COVID-19, all while rigorously preserving patient data privacy, which is, of course, essential for ensuring trust in the services delivered.

Sustainability and support for refugees

The public sector is also collaborating to make a difference when it comes to the UN’s SDGs. For example, Capgemini worked with the Agence Nationale de l’Habitat in France, whose role is to improve the condition of private housing stock and ensure social and environmental cohesion, to launch a new energy efficiency grant (MaPrimeRenov) for homeowners building or renovating their properties. This aims to encourage citizens to make improvements to the energy rating of their properties and improve their energy consumption.

Uppermost in many people’s minds at present is the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. A digital solution supporting refugees fleeing to Germany demonstrates how technology can be an enabler for governments in tackling the biggest challenges we face. Capgemini helped develop the Germany4Ukraine website and app, which provide essential information to refugees from Ukraine. Further, refugees can download information in any country because the app is available throughout Europe.

This year’s UN Public Service Day is a moment to applaud everything the public sector is doing to deliver more sustainable, more digital, and more resilient societies, as the above examples show. I look forward to celebrating more successful outcomes as our Digital Decade progresses.