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How governments can transform operations and services in the era of AI

Sooner or later, almost every technology conversation we have with government officials these days gets around to the topic of AI. The advent of generative AI is, for them, simultaneously exciting and anxiety-provoking.

Our customers are already envisioning ways in which generative AI can fundamentally transform government operations and services that touch so many aspects of people’s lives. The potential of AI to make government more efficient and more effective is beyond compelling, and government customers want it now. At the same time, however, they understand that their systems and data currently are not ready to enable them to start innovating with AI, and—making it worse—they aren’t clear on how to begin.

Microsoft is uniquely positioned to help governments begin their AI journey. We are an AI leader with Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service and Bing Chat. More recently, there are announcements of AI-powered copilots for use across our entire platform of solutions, including Microsoft 365, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Microsoft Security.  

In a recent post, Diana Parker, Microsoft’s Worldwide Public Sector (WWPS) Government Industry Leader, outlined our comprehensive objectives towards governments that include delivering innovation in programs and services; empowering the government workforce; and securing government data and protecting resources. And then there’s the objective that is foundational to them all: transforming government operations and services. For many of our customers, this is where the journey begins.  

If you want AI, get cloud ready

Governments face some of the most vexing and unique challenges of any industry sector. Governments must deliver services to their constituents (who expect more from technology every day), while their budgets only grow tighter. Any advances in IT must be certifiably compliant with laws and regulations, often optimized for sustainability—and they cannot interrupt business continuity. 

For years, moving to the cloud has been a difficult challenge for governments. Many have chosen to keep their operations on premises for good reasons, from financial considerations to staffing limitations or concerns about security and compliance. Now, they find themselves lagging other sectors as they look to embrace new innovations.

The good news is that the promise of digital transformation—specifically, to bring together people, data, and processes to increase efficiency, improve agility, and unlock new value—is supercharged by the arrival of AI. In other words, the first and best step to take on your AI journey is to properly complete your journey to the cloud.

Lessons learned from government customer success

At its core, transforming government operations and services is a back office-focused effort, with the goal of creating a resilient, hyperscale cloud environment that lets you do new and existing activities with less friction, less cost, and stronger compliance and security.  

To see how this looks in real-life terms, here are some of the essential lessons that our government customers have learned through the remarkable successes they’ve had in their transformation projects. These are highlights from just a handful of government customer stories:

  • Modernize your core operations. The Municipality of Alkmaar in the Netherlands was using outdated hardware and struggled to scale capacity and meet timelines. Working with Microsoft partner InSpark and leveraging the Azure Migration and Modernization Program, they tapped into Azure Migrate to move 250 virtual machines running on more than 60 on-premises servers to Microsoft Azure in just three months. They saw immediate improvements in management and monitoring, with a 30 percent cost savings. The municipality now pays only for the specific computing resources it uses, and the solution fully complies with local Dutch regulations and the General Data Protection Regulation. 
  • Migrate critical workloads. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) wanted to cut rising maintenance costs and service disruptions across its rail and bus systems. So, it instituted a modernization program to retire its aging legacy IT systems and migrate to Azure. Working with partner Presidio, WMATA migrated 11 critical applications to Azure in just six months. Beyond a range of improvements and a new cultural embracing of technological innovation, the modernization now positions WMATA to explore the capabilities that AI can bring, from machine learning for data analytics to building digital twins of their trains and buses for better performance. 
  • Use hybrid cloud where it makes sense. As part of Taiwan’s Smart City initiative, Taoyuan city built the country’s first government hybrid cloud platform. Working with HwaCom Systems Inc., the city built a solution to pull together more than 200 IT projects and a patchwork of disparate data sources. With Azure Arc-enabled SQL Managed Instance and together with Synapse and Microsoft Power BI, the city was able to deliver improved services to its citizens and unlock the power of data. In one example, the Environmental Protection Bureau is using the Internet of Things (IoT) data from the water authority to enable onsite inspectors to track high-risk sewage sources, faster and more efficiently. 
  • Lift and shift with ease. The United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) built a platform as a service (PaaS) solution called “drone and model aircraft registration and education service” (DMARES) to manage the registration and education of the country’s approximately 500,000 drone lovers. When word came that the government was going to decommission the platform, CAA took quick action. They chose to migrate to Azure, and in so doing innovated a templated approach that can be followed by other organizations. Deemed “perfect” by product managers, the project simplified the CAA’s operations, lowered costs, and opened the door to develop a future version of the solution to utilize more cloud-native technologies and approaches. 
  • Consolidate your data. The Orange County Superior Court (OCSC) broke with more than 100 years of tradition by unifying its three disparate case management systems into a singular data warehouse. Until the change, OCSC managed its case files manually, accumulating more than 70 million critical documents that required physical storage and transport. With its unified solution, OCSC can generate Power BI dashboards and apply analytics to better understand and manage its resources. After the start of COVID-19, the change enabled them to quickly shift to virtual options like remote hearings and online dispute resolution to maintain their commitment to due process. 

Learn more and get moving

These examples merely scratch the surface of what’s possible in transforming government operations and services. Every government has its own unique requirements and needs. Microsoft is deeply vested in your success, and we’re committed to partnering long-term to make transformation happen for your agencies. 

To learn more about our offerings, visit our website or get in touch with your Microsoft sales representative. Also, check out these resources: Understanding Digital Transformation in Government and Cutting Edge Technologies to Improve Government Performance and Service. And watch the industry government blog in the coming months for more blog posts from leaders across the Microsoft for Government team who will share insights, updates, and stories of government transformation. 

Microsoft for Government

Empowering government with technology to help solve society’s biggest challenges.

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