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Q&A: Data, Trust and Government Service Delivery With Miguel Carrasco and Gisele Kapterian

In collaboration with Boston Consulting Group, Salesforce recently surveyed 1,600 citizens and interviewed 20 government decision makers across Australia and New Zealand about the relationship between trust, data and citizen experience.

The research — published in The Trust Imperative — found that trust wins data, and that trust is won and lost on experience. The overwhelming majority of respondents — 85% — said the quality of their customer experience directly influences their level of trust and confidence in government.

Earning and maintaining trust is a priority for government at all times of course, but the conversations around whether and how citizens would trust governments enough to share data soon became far more critical, with citizen data forming a major pillar of the national COVID-19 response.

Here, Salesforce Director of Public Sector Strategy APAC Gisele Kapterian speaks with BCG Platinion APAC CEO Miguel Carrasco about the relationships between service delivery, data and trust; the COVIDSafe app and the use of data in crisis response; as well as what governments can learn from how data has been used to improve service delivery at our current critical juncture and as we move into a period of economic recovery.

Gisele Kapterian: Let’s start by talking about the COVIDSafe app. When we did the Trust Imperative research late last year, only 29% of Australians believed that governments did a good job of communicating the personal and community benefits of individuals sharing data. What impact would you expect to see from the increased transparency in communications around downloading the app and the benefits it could bring, and is that being achieved here?

Miguel Carrasco: There was and is a strong incentive to download the app. There’s a direct benefit — helping health officials do their jobs better so they can better protect public health. It’s easy to understand why sharing this data would be useful, and people can see that it’s for the good of health providers and the public, not for the Prime Minister and politicians. The government was asking for the population’s trust, but we know from the research that benefit is just one part of that effort. 

Citizens must know that the government has taken every step possible to protect them and their private information, and many held out for the legislation of penalties for misuse of data, or for open source code to be published. The government has since been taking more steps to enhance trust and uptake of the app.

And there’s an interesting test to come: with restrictions easing we will see a more significant bump in user numbers. When we get an increase in coronavirus cases, and when people then upload their data and see that they have or haven’t been in contact with someone who’s tested positive, the government can then say ‘this is how COVIDSafe was helpful’. They’ll have identified someone who’s positive in the community and had the opportunity to save others.

Gisele Kapterian: Let’s start by talking about the COVIDSafe app. When we did the Trust Imperative research late last year, only 29% of Australians believed that governments did a good job of communicating the personal and community benefits of individuals sharing data. What impact would you expect to see from the increased transparency in communications around downloading the app and the benefits it could bring, and is that being achieved here?

Miguel Carrasco: There was and is a strong incentive to download the app. There’s a direct benefit — helping health officials do their jobs better so they can better protect public health. It’s easy to understand why sharing this data would be useful, and people can see that it’s for the good of health providers and the public, not for the Prime Minister and politicians. The government was asking for the population’s trust, but we know from the research that benefit is just one part of that effort. 

Citizens must know that the government has taken every step possible to protect them and their private information, and many held out for the legislation of penalties for misuse of data, or for open source code to be published. The government has since been taking more steps to enhance trust and uptake of the app.

And there’s an interesting test to come: with restrictions easing we will see a more significant bump in user numbers. When we get an increase in coronavirus cases, and when people then upload their data and see that they have or haven’t been in contact with someone who’s tested positive, the government can then say ‘this is how COVIDSafe was helpful’. They’ll have identified someone who’s positive in the community and had the opportunity to save others.

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GK: We’re also seeing a real change in the pace at which public data is used during this crisis, and the use of real-time data is providing a new lens on what else is possible in service delivery. How quickly can public services pivot?

MC: We’ve seen state governments respond particularly quickly. They’ve mobilised and created control centres, or nerve centres, where they are able to manage and monitor the crisis. 

And we’re seeing too a shift from publishing data in a pdf and a week behind real-time, to finding novel solutions that will allow actionable insights from real-time data. The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has Assistant Secretary Alastair Campbell running a data unit that provides COVID-19 analytics on tap for the PM and others across government, and data and metrics are available to decision makers. 

I tend to agree with Tom Burton in the AFR though — why weren’t we doing this before? Privacy has always been a concern, but we’re seeing now that just because data isn’t made public, this doesn’t mean the government can’t use it.

The privacy question now is related to making these insights publicly available quickly to help communities and industries make better-informed decisions. NSW has done this well, finding a novel solution to re-identification concerns when publicly releasing infection rates at a postcode level. 

GK: Use cases like that one in NSW is one way to transparently put data to work for citizens, and we saw in the research that this is a powerful booster of trust that compels citizens to share more data. More than half of Australians and New Zealanders told us it’s important or very important to them that data is used to inform research, policy and innovation, while 78% said their trust in government was influenced, positively or negatively, by whether government use of data was clearly communicated at their most recent interaction.

This conversation about trust comes at a critical time for governments throughout Australia and New Zealand. It clearly identifies the relationship between public trust, the willingness to share data in a safe and secure way, and the success of government service delivery now and in the future. 

MC: Absolutely, and still in health, a centre to create modelling to track facts and figures is the obvious place to start. 

But any organisation stuck in reporting cycles with data that’s weeks or months out of date could do a lot more with real-time intelligence by hooking into data at the source. Real-time data on consumer spending and small business earnings, for example, could inform decisions on the withdrawal or extension of economic stimulus. 

There are instances of near-time data being adequate, of course, but ideally we know when to invest in real-time data and when close enough is good enough.

GK: And there are two parts to valuing that investment — making better decisions faster, and having better data with which to improve customer experience. The customer experience now, through a crisis, is shaping whether residents will trust governments of all levels to deliver the services they need in the future. And we know that years of positive government initiatives can be unwound with just a few poor digital interactions. 

MC: Yes, and if we want that data and the actionable intelligence it can provide, we need to get the basics right. We know the public is happy to share data, in real-time or otherwise, if there’s trust, and that trust is won when their needs are met and their experience is flawless.

Gaining and maintaining public trust is emerging as the single most important priority for large-scale government service delivery innovation initiatives.

So consistent engagement with customers on how data is used, the benefits for the community, and the safety and security measures in place — all in a transparent and sustained manner — should become the new norm for all governments.

Want to know more about why customer experience matters in government, and how governments in Australia and New Zealand can deliver services with speed and impact? Watch our on-demand webinar — Gisele Kapterian and Miguel Carrasco in conversation with Service NSW CEO Damon Rees — and download The Trust Imperative report.

Download the latest Trust Imperative report.

Gisele Kapterian

Gisele Kapterian is Director, Public Sector Strategy, APAC at Salesforce. Prior to joining Salesforce, Gisele served five years as political adviser to three Australian Federal Cabinet Ministers, including as Chief of Staff in the super-portfolio of Industry, Innovation and Employment.  Her responsibilities and achievements while in government include helping drive and shape the Australian Government’s tech future strategy, trade components of the Foreign Policy White Paper, and elevating and prioritising digital trade issues, including helping drive the digital trade agenda initiative at the 11th WTO Ministerial. As an international trade lawyer, Gislele advised sovereign governments and the private sector on trade matters, appearing as counsel before dispute resolution panels and the World Trade Organization Appellate Body. She also lectured in International Trade Law and Finance at Macquarie University.

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