Cyber, data and digital identity at forefront of 2023 public sector digital trends

Socitm’s annual report focuses on the digital trends expected to make a significant impact on local public services and their outcomes in 2023 and beyond.

Posted 25 January 2023 by Christine Horton

Cyber resilience and data top the list of Socitm’s digital trends for the public sector in 2023.

Produced in collaboration with the Linked Organisation of Local Authority IT Associations (LOLA) and Major Cities of Europe (MCE), Socitm’s sixth annual report focuses on the digital trends expected to make a significant impact on local public services and their outcomes in 2023 and beyond.

Despite the pressures and the uncertainty, Socitm noted there is much optimism found amongst public service digital leaders, especially about the potential benefits of digital innovation in service design, collaboration, digital inclusion and automation.

Cyber resilience

Topping the list was cyber resilience. More than just cybersecurity, cyber resilience extends to collaboration across connected places and communities, rather than simply within the organisation. Not only are the risks of a cyber incident increasing, but so is the potential impact and the attractiveness of the public sector as a target.

Data explodes silos

In 2023, data will be the key for public sector organisations seeking to improve performance, services and finances. It will be the cornerstone in breaking the ‘public policy impasse’ over deep-seated local

problems, putting citizens in control of their interactions with digital services, exploiting new technologies such as artificial intelligence and driving productivity. It will also underpin ‘whole-system’ operations in communities, linking services together across silos and around the needs and preferences of citizens.

Digital identity

Digital identity also made the list of 12 key digital trends for the public sector. Socitm said universal digital identity for citizens is both the solution to digital development and integration of digital services, yet also a barrier. The UK in particular has had multiple attempts to address this over the years, culminating in the failed ‘Gov.Verify’ programme.

2023 will see a renewed focus in public service organisations to prioritise digital identity development as a key method for linking systems and services better, protecting privacy and security, preventing fraud and empowering citizens to be more in control of their interactions with government. The main challenges lie in three areas:

1. Growth in the variety of apps and services or locations with dedicated ID developments, which will fragment service join-up for citizens and create future legacy problems.

2. The need for staff as well as citizens to have secure access to digital services from home and elsewhere, ensuring commonality in underlying infrastructure and security.

3. A fall in trust of digital public services that could create reluctance for some citizens to accept digital identity systems, holding back digital transformation and digital inclusion.

Read a summary of the 12 key digital trends and six associated technology trends.