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Techwire has been querying IT leaders in government and the private sector about what trends they see in government technology in 2018. Today, three of those figures weigh in:

Mohammed Al Rawi, CIO for the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation;

Davood Ghods, VP of Government Solutions for Direct Technology and former chief of Data Center Services for the California Department of Technology; and 

Rick Keene, former state Assembly member, attorney and strategic consultant.

Mohammed Al Rawi:

2018 is the year of Innovation and Digital Transformation for the Department of Parks and Recreation. Starting in January, over 10 million Parks records, from personnel to contracts to plans, are being digitized and transformed into a centralized content management system, all of which will be tied to a Business Process Management system that will digitize, streamline and automate many of Parks’ business processes.

With the introduction of Internet of Things (IoT) to Parks in 2017, business owners realize the value that IoT brings to the table. More IoT solutions will be implemented to track assets such as equipment, vehicles and trees, as well as to enhance patrons’ safety.

Digitizing records and business processes are being complimented with real-time statistics gathered from IoT sensors to provide meaningful and relevant data analytics as well as to provide Parks managers with a longitudinal view to efficiently and dynamically distribute resources as well as proactively respond to maintenance and safety issues.

The proactive approach we are taking is not limited to business automation. We also have invested in implementing first-line cybersecurity defense. As cybersecurity risk increases with adding new innovative solutions to our IT ecosystem, we have implemented sophisticated and advanced threat analytics, network and endpoint security solutions to detect potential cybersecurity threats and stop them in real time across all devices and ports across our network.

Davood Ghods:

Automation has been a buzzword in government tech for years. However, 2018 brings unprecedented and exciting practical applications to “automation”: drones and autonomous vehicles. The information that can be uniquely captured by drones has the potential to vastly improve certain aspects of government services, particularly in realms such as emergency response and public safety, construction and public works, and environmental monitoring. Autonomous vehicles, meanwhile, are expected to become publicly available this year and could both cut government spending and improve safety in areas like public works, public transportation (including revolutionizing downtown parking), and even make an impact on commuters.

I also foresee differences in how public entities interact with cloud providers. 2017 saw a huge influx in government organizations moving infrastructure and information to the cloud. I expect this growth in cloud adoption to continue in 2018 because it has improved security and transformed the process for an organization to add or amend their storage and workflow needs quickly, overriding previous concerns about risk management. However, we may soon reach the point where the market has gotten so competitive, and organizations so reliant on a cloud vendor, that one of two things will need to happen: either a shift in cloud pricing to make cloud adoption more accessible to government entities nationwide; or, agencies taking a harder look at the possibility of on-premise capabilities.

Rick Keene:

One general thought I might share for my outlook for 2018 is anticipating the continued accelerated trend toward expansion into cloud-based and hybrid solutions for most of the state’s technology needs where possible.

The desire on the part of state departments to reduce the IT maintenance debt load, increase the speed to deployment, and offload some of the long-term in-house upgrade and maintenance responsibilities, has made the value proposition for cloud-hosted solutions increasingly more attractive as a long-term IT strategy. 

Plus the ability to quickly scale up or down as needs change, and to terminate subscriptions quickly without the legacy tail that in-house solutions require, fits in well with the agile and modular objectives that most departments want to employ where they can. This serves to both mitigate potential project failures and avoid being saddled with long-term technology constraints.

Integration and process re-engineering will still, of course, need to play a prominent role in IT, if the state is to be able to actually enjoy the benefits of these new and better technologies. After all, as a practical matter, new technology capabilities are only useful if they are actually being used by those intended to be benefited.

You can’t change everything at once, so it is more evolutionary than revolutionary, but that train is definitely building momentum, and I would expect it to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.