Beyond the numbers – addressing citizen wellbeing during COVID times

COVID-19 response measures brought both an increased demand on existing digital governance services, as well as a need for new innovative methods of public service delivery tools. The past few months have proved to be a steep learning curve for many state institutions, with pockets of progress made in the digital transformation of the public sector. What is missing however, is sustainable and COVID relevant support to citizens during this difficult time. Whilst efforts have been made in digitalizing communication between the state and the citizen, these are often one dimensional and focused purely on gathering COVID related information from the individual. As 2020 progressed, it is evident that mental wellbeing and the wider welfare of citizens are under severe pressure from the virus, as well as lockdown response measures. It`s evident that regardless of the policy choices we make right now, the welfare of the individual continues to dissipate, and we have seen widespread degradation of social wellbeing statistics as a result. Such concerns are often raised in the context of economic decisions (and consequences) related to COVID measures, but not often on the day-to-day wellbeing that COVID threatens, particularly for our most vulnerable community members. Current e-gov platforms and apps are not suitable for connecting and communicating with citizens, who are often isolated, scared and apprehensive about the path ahead. They are framed as services to support citizens, yet trust and support of such tools is lacking. Our society needs technology and tools to support the most vulnerable, not only as a response to alarming falls in wellbeing statistics, but also as a prevention to wider issues of violence, social unrest and loss of trust in public officials. This is an opportunity not just to rebuild the social contract, but enhance it for generations to come.




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