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Three Development Trends in e-Government: Cloud, Collaboration, and Big Data

| By Zhao Qing, Government Industry Marketing Expert, Huawei Enterprise Business Group

Three trends are shaping e-Government models: 1) Cloud computing technology is becoming increasingly mainstream; 2) Government departmental services are strengthening cross-functional collaboration and cooperation, and 3) Big Data will be increasingly important to explore and use government information resources. In following these trends, e-Government models are being developed to provide users with the following benefits:

• Deep integration of existing application systems enable cross-functional collaboration in key service domains.

• Segmentation is eliminated by enhanced interconnection.

• The ability to share information resources will be improved through integration, interconnection, and collaboration.

• Social Administration and Public Service Systems are reconstructed to provide critical and comprehensive application services aligned with restructured government organizations.

• Efficient utilization of e-Government funds will enable fast information industry development.

Cloud Computing: An Emerging Mainstream Technology

"Cloud computing" is the integration of all IT capabilities onto a single logical network hosted on multiple physical devices. Through cloud computing, external third parties provide fully scaled application services that are traditionally hosted on an organization's internal computers and servers. Using available Internet resources, the cloud is a new computer services model, with four distinctive features:

• Convenience: All data is stored in the cloud, resulting in user access at any time, from any location. Data and application services source many different devices, often from many different locations.

• Diversity: Users achieve accurate and thorough search results via data mining technologies that leverage large computer clusters.

• Cost-effectiveness: Cloud computing devices are low-cost, user-friendly, easily maintained, and energy efficient, all characteristics that allow massive computing and storage workloads to be available to individual client devices acting as browsers.

• Security: Centrally managed data and access control policies prevent data loss and virus intrusion. Fault tolerant, distributed systems lead to highly reliable, secure connections.

e-Government models maximize three major challenges: resource sharing, government services collaboration, and applications interconnection. The features and functions of cloud computing are a powerful tool for addressing these challenges.

Cross-functional Service Collaboration throughout the Process

E-Government services are evolving into single platform application systems. Department work processes are integrated into end-to-end public access and social administration services. Workers in associated government departments collaborate seamlessly through integrated cross-functional systems that provide enhanced public services. Under this new architecture, innovative process management, through optimizations and restructuring, improves service satisfaction.

Traditionally, updated administration systems required repeated separation and reunification of data and devices, often incurring high administrative costs and possibly drastic social consequences. However, this new cloud architecture innovates government administration in ways that are dynamic, gradual, sustained, cost-effective, and user oriented. The goal is to meet the expectations of both governments and the public.

Importantly, the cloud architecture opens the barriers that separate government functions and organizations. In other words, cloud-based systems can adapt to any situation where administrative entities must dynamically expand or downsize. Government departments fulfill their duties via appropriate access to integrated, cross-functional application systems. Properly trained, people within an organization can transfer access permissions and relevant rights to other departments. Organizational reforms require the system to be designed to support sustained government changes and innovation initiatives.

Big Data Generating Big Wisdom

Further, e-Government models must focus on the concept of Big Data. For example, the Obama Administration recently unveiled its Big Data Research and Development Initiative to "improve [American] capability to extract knowledge and insights from large and complex collections of digital data; harness these technologies to accelerate the pace of discovery in science and engineering; strengthen national security and transform teaching and learning."

Understanding that "wisdom can be enhanced with Big Data," Huawei is promoting e-Government models that extract knowledge from massive amounts of information. "Data mining" is the process of extracting implicit, previously unrecognized, and potentially useful information from large amounts of incomplete, noisy, fuzzy, and random data.

Big Data processing enables governments to make choices based on large-scale analysis. Goals include allowances for greater policy transparency, and identification of high social and economic value. Most broadly, data mining aids decision-making through the discovery of patterns in large data sets based on facts or observations. Data mining tools can process structured numeric data in traditional databases or extract relevance from semi-structured and unstructured data, such as text, graphics, images, and web data. Leveraging Big Data can enable breakthroughs in e-Government management, where, like the many industries using Big Data to identify opportunities for innovation, governments are able to act on the best available information.

Big Data processing is not simply waiting for automatic results; it is necessary to master the tools and skills to transform raw data into information, knowledge, and wisdom. Skills and techniques to be mastered include data warehouse integration, business intelligence, and data visualization, as well as business analysis and forecast modeling. In addition, organizations must develop appropriate work processes and policies, find talent for drawing sound conclusions to meet ever-changing citizen needs.

In summary, we must gather data from every part of the "Cloud" and extract knowledge from massive data collections to build core capabilities in the development of e-Government services.