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Digital Summit Agenda 2021

The Digital Summit 2021 addressed some of the biggest challenges facing public sector heads of digital around the world

Thursday 11 March
10:30 – 10:45 UTC

Sing: 18:30 (+8)
Dubai: 14:30 (+4)
Can / USA: 05:30 (-5)


Matt Ross, Editorial Director, Global Government Forum

10:45 – 12:30 UTC

Delivering at pace: what we learned in the pandemic

Over the last year, efforts to digitalise governments around the world have seen huge progress. Working remotely, civil servants have rapidly launched new services to support citizens during the pandemic, while moving business processes online to protect users and staff from infection. Short-circuiting the processes and rules that normally slow delivery, digital staff have reacted with unprecedented speed to protect and support people through the crisis.

The challenge now is to hold onto those gains in pace, leadership and innovation as governments move on from the emergency response phase, maintaining progress in fields such as flexible working, service transformation and channel shift. And meanwhile, civil servants will have to renew their focus on protecting accountability, transparency, equity, and value for money in public spending. At this session, digital leaders will explore how to put rapid digital transformation on a sustainable footing.

Presentations and discussion

Presenter: Jason Bay, Senior Director, Government Digital Services, GovTech, Singapore

Presenter: Tariq Hussain, Senior Director, UK Public Sector, Dell Technologies

Presenter: H.E. Mr Younus Al Nasser, Assistant Director General, Smart Dubai and CEO, Dubai Data Establishment, United Arab Emirates

Followed by group discussion

12:30 – 13:30 UTC

Refreshment break

13:30 – 15:00 UTC

Sing: 21:30 (+8)
Dubai: 17:30 (+4)
Can / USA: 08:30 (-5)

Refining the new oil: using data to fuel government and power citizens

Data may be the new oil, but it needs refining before it can fuel policymaking or public service delivery. To stretch the analogy, imperfections and contaminants must be removed so that it burns cleanly, and it must be blended to a consistent quality – allowing it to be used in every civil service engine. Meanwhile pipelines must be constructed across government, allowing this precious commodity to be shared and exchanged.

Since COVID-19 arrived, emerging data technologies have more than proved their value. Combining their own economic, medical and social data with feeds from the private sector, for example, many governments have tracked the pandemic’s impact – and that of their own policy responses – in real time. But to pump four-star information into every civil servant’s laptop, digital leaders need the right infrastructures, tools and skills. This session will consider how governments can best drive progress on the data agenda, considering key topics such as the role of the centre, workforce capabilities and the introduction of national ID systems.

Presentations and discussion

Presenter: Gina Gill, Interim CDIO, Ministry of Justice, United Kingdom

Presenter: Matthew Lindsay, Global Lead, Government & Public Sector, Mastercard

Presenter: Dr Tobias Plate, Head of ‘Digital State’ Unit, Federal Chancellery, Germany

Followed by group discussion

15:00 – 15:15 UTC

Refreshment break

15:15 – 16:45 UTC

Sing: 23:15 (+8)
Dubai: 19:15 (+4)
Can / USA: 10:15 (-5)

Organic intelligence: using AI wisely in the civil service

Artificial Intelligence technologies have huge potential in civil service management, policymaking and service delivery – but they come accompanied by a unique set of risks. Where systems are ‘trained’ using case management data, for example, they can acquire the prejudices and errors of human staff. Poor system design or low-quality data can skew decisions or generate the wrong conclusions. And because AI algorithms evolve over time – sometimes creating ‘black box’ systems, whose operations are opaque – they present challenges around transparency and accountability in decision-making.

Around the world, governments and international bodies are exploring how civil servants can realise the technology’s potential without falling foul of its dangers. Can AI be used to guide human staff, for example, rather than to automate decision-making? How can public bodies develop the technical and commercial expertise to build, commission and deploy AI effectively? And how can quality standards be used to safeguard privacy, transparency, equity and accountability? This session will consider the particular challenges around deploying AI in the public sector – and map out ways to address them.

Presentations and discussion

Presenter: Dr Vik Pant, Chief Scientist and Chief Science Advisor, Natural Resources Canada, Canada

Presenter: Fariz Jafarov, Director – E-Gov Center, Azerbaijan

Presenter: Maria Nikkilä, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Head of Digital Unit, Public Sector ICT Department, Finland

Followed by group discussion

16:45 – 17:00 UTC

Summary and Close