The Rise of Digital Governance: Embracing Technology for the Development of Public Services

By Mariola García-Cañada Candela Published on Jun. 15, 2023

The development of technology has created a new era that poses digitization at the scene's epicenter. In the public sector, governments have been embracing technology to keep up to date with innovative trends that are revolutionizing the development of international relations.

The evolution of digital governance from basic online services to incorporating advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain has radically transformed the citizen-government relationship by enhancing efficiency, transparency, engagement, and accessibility to governmental data.

Unleashing the potential of digital governance

Digital governance has transformed the development of health, education, and defense, among other areas of governance. By analyzing the behavior of citizens and tailoring the services to their needs, governments have increased the population’s quality of life.

Digital governance in health

Innovative trends are revolutionizing the healthcare system. As the OECD Global Trends in Government Innovation Report outlines, “new technological approaches are transforming how governments look after the health of their people.”

The integration of telemedicine, fitness trackers, smartwatches, data analytics, and artificial intelligence, with the support of governmental bodies, is increasing the overall health of the global population:

  • Online medical interactions have become the norm, making it easier for people in need to receive remote care from wherever they are.
  • Medical wearables and IoT have been alerting individuals and medical services in emergencies, saving the population's lives.
  • Data analytics and artificial intelligence have been developing personalized treatments for patients, predicting diseases, and improving the accuracy of medical diagnosis by elaborating data analysis and identifying symptom patterns.

These initiatives have increased accessibility to public health, decreasing inequalities and favoring the adequate functioning of the healthcare system.

Digital governance in education

The development of digital governance has strongly influenced the educational sector after the COVID-19 pandemic severely challenged the system.

Download our ebook: The World After COVID-19: 14 Industry Trends

Governmental support to invest in the digitalization of education is aiding in decreasing the widening academic gap that COVID-19 reinforced. The effects of such policy turn are starting to be notable in the education system:

  • Online education is becoming more accessible to anyone anywhere, erasing economic and geographical barriers.
  • Learning management systems are making education more efficient by tracking students' progress and facilitating communication between students and professors, eliminating administrative and physical barriers.
  • Artificial intelligence is being used to elaborate work plans for students, adapting the content to the pace and needs of the students and personalizing the educational experience to each individual's personal circumstances.

Digital governance in defense

Technological development has boosted innovation in the defense industry. As NATO outlined, “Big data, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and quantum technologies are changing the world and how NATO operates.”

Governmental openness towards digitalization in the defense sector is having extremely notable effects:

  • High-resolution satellite imagery and drones have increased the effectiveness of defensive techniques by monitoring activities and identifying possible threats at a safe distance.
  • The advancement of firewalls, encryption mechanisms, and intrusion detection systems has strengthened governmental cybersecurity by safeguarding sensitive information from possible online thefts/attacks.
  • Virtual reality has empowered the defense capabilities of governments by training military personnel through simulation.

Challenges to digital governance

Although the advantages outlined by the rise in digital governance are notable, technological innovation also poses challenges that governments must overcome to leverage the benefits of having a digitalized ecosystem.

  • Digital divide and inclusion: Equal access to technology must be ensured to eliminate any possibility of marginalizing population sectors. Governments must ensure that affordability, internet connectivity, and skill gaps don’t limit access to digital resources in certain areas by putting the required advancements at their disposal.
  • Technological infrastructure: As reliance on technology rises, technological infrastructure must be updated. The limited internet connectivity in remote areas, outdated hardware and software systems, and insufficient data storage capabilities pose severe difficulties for states to enter the digitalized ecosystem. To ensure that the benefits of having an innovative system are exploited, governments must update the technological infrastructure and assure interoperability.
  • Resistance to change: Fear of the unknown is common when policies change dramatically. Governments should ensure profitable management strategies are followed to eliminate any threats that may confront the population and engage stakeholders.

Digital governance in practice

Estonia and Singapore are two examples of governments succeeding in digital governance initiatives. These governments have managed to overcome innovation threats and leveraged the advantages of having a digitized ecosystem.


As a pioneer in digital governance with the program E-Estonia, the government of Estonia has developed several initiatives demonstrating the incentives states encounter when posed with the question of digitizing their services. Some of the initiatives that stand out are the e-Government, which made 99% of its public services available online for the population, eliminating most of the bureaucratic processes and posing efficiency at the core, and the e-Residency initiative, which generated a government-issued digital identity providing global entrepreneurs remote access to the country and facilitated an online authentication process to sign documents electronically.


The government of Singapore developed the idea of creating a Smart Nation. Initiatives that succeeded in the accomplishment of this goal are the Signpass, which created a convenient and secure platform for users to transact with the government and other private service providers by login into the digital services, and the Smart Nation Sensor Platform, an integrated nationwide platform that collects data to create smart solutions through a series of sensors. The latter initiative deals with the population’s everyday issues, such as tracking water usage and leaks, creating a personal alert button for the elderly, and collecting data from lamp posts on air quality, rainfall, and footfall to determine the effects of global warming.

Technology and innovation: the imperative for continued investment

The rise of digital governance unleashed the power of technology and innovation in the public sector, creating an imperative for continued investment within the population to increase the number of digital experiences, personalized services, administrative efficiency, and accessibility to information.

Furthermore, the complex challenges currently facing the population, such as climate change, motivate the development of technology to achieve possible solutions by investing in data analytics and innovative techniques. To demonstrate power in the evolving ecosystem, governments must stay ahead of the curve, anticipate future challenges and opportunities, and guide the change in public service by investing consistently in technology and innovation.

Governments have the responsibility to undergo the necessary policy changes to:

  1. Prioritize budget allocations for technological advancement.
  2. Cultivate an innovation-friendly environment.
  3. Enhance collaboration between private technology companies and public institutions.

Without the support of governments, the possibilities of creating an innovative ecosystem would be strongly reduced, so it is in their power to lead the transformative wave of innovation that we are currently experiencing and lead to a new era of technological growth and expansion.

Plug and Play connects corporations and startups to drive innovation. Don't miss out on the chance to join ourGlobal Overseas Acceleration and Learning program to stay ahead of the curve in this landscape.