A powerful technology strategy is to harness the intersection of key trends, such as Low Code, a user-driven graphical coding approach to software development, with ‘GaaP’ – Government as a Platform, an architecture for integrated Digital Government.
‘Low Code GaaP’ therefore stipulates a model and a method for implementing that model.
The critical ideal common to both is a modular, ‘plug and play’ approach, where the modules are the building blocks of online service delivery, such as Digital Identity, for functions like Single sign-on.
Low Code key to ‘long tail’ of Digital Government
The value of the approach is keenly identified through scenarios such as the ‘long tail’ of Digital Government, one characterized by a lack of skills and by a focus on front-line delivery at local levels.
To visualize the long tail consider a local doctors office. There are thousands across the country, each manned by less than 10 people and dealing with important Healthcare needs, and also acting as the primary ‘customer interface point’ for many people especially the elderly.
Typically they aren’t that advanced with technology – For example their registration process is a manual, paper-based form. So their IT needs are very small, but there are thousands of GPs, aka The Long Tail.
Hence it is not a challenge of technology but one of scaling, and is therefore ideally solved by a Long Tail model.
For example Local GPs would be best served by ‘the Local IT Guy’, also a member of the long tail, there are thousands of those across the country too, one for each GP in other words. And they are a local SME contact for a local SME.
To the core theme of this article they are also an ideal level of technical skills/support where Low Code is exactly the ‘right tool for the right job’. It’s easy to pick up and do on an ad-hoc basis, and you provide deliverables within days. Local IT Guys are also fixing laptops and troubleshooting broadband issues.
This effect would be further accelerated if their ‘Low Code Toolbox’ featured templates specifically tailored for the local market, eg for Scottish GPs.
This is the essence of ‘Low Code GaaP’. A template-driven development system accompanied with a catalogue of templates localized to those needs.
With all this in mind an excellent Vendor showcase is IEG4, who offer a solution set for ‘LGaaP’ – Local Goverment as a Platform. Their ‘Council in a Box’ is this set of localized templates, for UK Local Government.
They offer a Low Code development environment, their eDesigner allows non-IT staff to develop and deploy electronic forms and service requests from citizens, with no coding necessary. The same staff can set up workflows to deal with these service requests, allocate workloads and provide functions and facilities to interact with citizens.
‘Ecosystem Apps’ refers to the integration of each new service with a broader set of other applications relevant to the local context. Becoming part of and improving a local ecosystem is a key architecture for GaaP, and so the goal is Low Code apps that can advance that goal.
eDesigner offers over 250 form templates for Local Government requirements, so there is a degree of customization already baked in, but more importantly is live interactions with other systems so that key two-way data updates are made.
A great example is their Blue Badge module, an application workflow developed to implement that specific UK Local Government requirement, a disable parking certificate, and accordingly ties in with their relevant central systems such as Gov.UK Pay integration.
With a recognized need for more of this type of Central / Local integration, achieved via direct API links, then we can easily see the context of the value of this approach.
There are a myriad of these interchange points – For example dentists are identical to doctors, in that they are small operations, will have some kind of single PC based patient data system + paper forms, and offers services dependent on Central Government status checks and updates, such as free service for Universal Credit claimants.
UC claimants aren’t issued any kind of paper-based certificate of that status, so a live check is required, but typically the PC-based system won’t yet feature any kind of API capabilities.
The Long Tail requires the same sophistication of technology that the large central agencies employ, like this kind of API integration, but they lack the same resources and funding. So that level of investment can be concentrated once, encoded into a template, and then rolled out at scale via a Low Code program.