State Super Application — Benefits and Threats

It is commonly known that digital transformation is going. In today’s world information systems are becoming more and more complex, interaction between them becomes more intensive and applications transform to complex services. Such process resulted in the emergence of a new form of IT products — informational “super-systems” and “super-applications”.

A super application is a collection of separate service applications. The number of these services in super app is so great that a user can solve almost any of his tasks using just one single application.

By the way, super applications of the commercial B2C sector and the state G2C are similar in the following aspects:

  • Extremely wide coverage of user needs.
  • Grouping services around a specific topic.

super application

Why a government needs its own super application? 

The situation is that a person interacts with state authorities physically visiting a government agency or via a single portal of public services and/or individual websites of government agencies. 

Many “paper” services have already switched to electronic form, but their fragmentation in individual websites remains. State super services are a digital channel of interaction between residents of a country and state authorities. 

Super services — a natural stage of development of public services. This development is expected to lead to:

  • Combining of all the services on a single dedicated platform.
  • Grouping services according to life situations.
  • Harmonization in interface and business processes. 

To take efficient management decisions, up-to-date data relevant data is required for state authorities. It is a so called data-driven approach to management decisions, which is the aim of any state-scale information system. Without super apps the information from citizens, passed through a set of bureaucratic authorities with losses and distortions. With super apps this information will be collected through system of interdepartmental electronic interaction to get to the necessary department. 

There are public services that only the user needs, for example, the procedure for entering the university or booking an appointment with a doctor. There are services are needed only by the state, for example, registration of a company, payment of taxes.

It is not a constructive step to ask citizens to pass unnecessary and uncomfortable but mandatory procedures. So, development of a state super application is required. 

The principles of building digital public services means building paperless economy, decreasing number of interactions. Surely, the convenience of super-services is expected also to improve public opinion about the work of government bodies in any country.

Benefits for the user

  1. Reduction of the bureaucratic barrier. A person regularly faces bureaucratic procedures both in business, as a client, and in state institutions, as a citizen. For example, obtaining a loan or obtaining a driver’s license. Complex and lengthy procedures always cause consumer dissatisfaction. Implementing super apps, there is an opportunity to review them and even eliminate some. 
  2. Convenience. The consumer’s natural desire is to buy all the products in one store, to have all the functions in one device. Super applications are expected to answer this request. In a single interface of public services with a unified authorization, a user can access services from various spheres of life: health, family, work, education and others. An important criterion for convenience is the constant availability of the service, when the service does not require the personal visit to a state institution.  And another aspect of comfort is that a user doesn’t need to understand deeply bureaucratic procedures and processes to solve his problem. The user/client/consumer just knows the final goal, and super-services and super-applications through a clear UI will guide him through the procedure.
  1. Storage and quick access to data and documents. Transition to a digital economy means eliminations of paper documents. Super services and super applications allow the user to store important documents in the cloud and provide access to necessary authorities.
  1. Free of charge access to the system.

Possible risks for a government

  1. Problems with hardware and software. The environment imposes high demands on performance, fault tolerance, and scalability of software and hardware. For example, the server could not cope with the influx of users. A citizen, faced with a non-working service, accumulates discontent and loses confidence in the system.
  2. Leak of personal data. There are no 100% reliable means of protection against leakage The reasons can be both technical — failure, attack, architectural vulnerability — and the human factor, for example, insufficient computer literacy of the population. In any case, when the personal data of users of public services get into the network, citizens will blame the system.
  3. Violation of terms. The super-service project is very large-scale and very complex, so the risk of failure dominated him from the very beginning. Another risk is complex communication between working groups, implementers and other development participants. 

However, obviously the state is exactly the entity that has necessary resources at its disposal to develop such an ambitious project. Unlike some software development company. 

Possible risks for user

  1. Leak of personal data. It is necessary to understand that in the era of super apps, the platform takes care of the storage and movement of information. Vulnerability of the platform itself also endanger user data. Criminals practice methods of cheating using information about a driver’s license, passport or phone number. And there are still no reliable protective measures against such schemes.  
  2. Helplessness in isolation from the digital «ecosystem.» The super application user falls into the convenience trap. When all aspects of life are covered by automated services, a person may be helpless in the event of a technical issues of the system or in the event of a situation not considered in the set of services. 
  3. The digital divide. Actually super services/super applications are more technical system than a social one. To work with it, you need hardware, for example, a smartphone, and a communication channel. So, there will be a category of citizens to whom this system is not available — the children, the elderly, seriously ill, the homeless. This phenomenon is called the digital divide.

Prospects for state super services

Super applications, and public services in particular, are closely connected with other high technologies. Today each country launches programs to support and develop artificial intelligence, robotics, Internet of things, big data.

Through super services, the state is intensively involved in B2C information interaction. Perhaps, in some functions, public services will compete with commercial software.

Despite the possible risks for participants, the transformation of public services into super application meets the strategic goals of the development of a digital country. Moreover, the government is expected to be the «engine» of this process.

Bring the idea into reality
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