Korea’s new innovation strategy: Digital Platform Government

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Koh Jean, Chairman, Presidential Committee of Digital Platform Government

  • Digital Platform Government aims to overcome the limitations of existing public operations by making use of technologies like AI and the cloud.
  • The purpose of the platform is so “citizens, businesses and government work in collaboration based on a platform where all data is connected”.
  • The Korean government will unveil the Digital Platform Government roadmap in March and develop specific goals and tasks.

The Republic of Korea’s Yoon Suk Yeol government, inaugurated last year, proposed the Digital Platform Government as a new innovation strategy. To realize this, the Presidential Committee on the Digital Platform Government, composed of 19 private experts and four relevant ministers as members, was launched on 2 September.

The envisioned Digital Platform Government aims at fundamentally innovating government operations into a people-centred government, a scientific and transparent government, and a government driving the private sector growth by fully utilizing opportunities provided by rapidly evolving digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing.

Why did the Korean government present the Digital Platform Government as a new government innovation strategy? Over the past few years, the public has become accustomed to highly personalized, tailored services that innovative platform companies provide. Furthermore, the society-wide digital transformation accelerated and deepened by the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the people’s expectations of the government. As a result, the new government realized that fundamental changes were needed to offer citizens comprehensive, pre-emptive, and tailored services to meet their heightened expectations. Therefore, in the era of great digital transformation, the government of Korea will embark on a new journey of the Digital Platform Government to unleash full-scale, government-wide digital transformation.

Where we stand

Over the last two decades, the Republic of Korea has built and operated a world-class, successful e-government, which is widely acknowledged. The Korean government has consistently ranked 1st to 3rd in the UN E-Government Development Index since 2010, and has led the world in ICT infrastructure, public data opening and government innovation efforts.

Behind the past 20 years of success, however, fundamental limitations make it difficult to guarantee success for the next 20 years. In the informatization process that has been rapidly proceeding since the 2000s, too many IT system silos have developed. In the meantime, most ministries and institutions of the Korean government have operated their own affiliated organization to develop and upgrade their respective systems based on their own expertise. As a result, the partitions between ministries have increased, making the linkage of the system and data even more difficult. Such government silos make meeting people’s expectations of receiving integrated, highly personalized services difficult. Popular public services, such as Home Tax (tax), WorkNet (employment) and Bokjiro (welfare), have reached the world’s top level. However, it has moved far away from the one-stop government that the public wants.


What is the World Economic Forum doing on data policy?

The World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Data Policy brings together business, government, technical and civil society leaders to fuel innovative approaches that accelerate the responsible use of data by focusing on privacy, trust, equity, and interoperability.

  • In collaboration with the government of Finland, the Forum developed a new approach to data management to improve the way sensitive data is used in Helsinki and safely provide residents with new and personalized services.
  • The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Rwanda is promoting the adoption of new technologies in the country, driving innovation on data policy and AI – particularly in healthcare.
  • The Forum partnered with the Bahrain Economic Development Board to co-design a Roadmap for Cross-Border Data Flows, identifying best practices for innovative policies in data-intensive technologies.
  • The HUB Ocean in close collaboration with Cognite and Microsoft, launched the Ocean Data Platform. It is the first global, open-source, integrated data digital platform to pilot and support new tools that improve ocean health and productivity.

Contact us for more information on how to get involved.

Direction of digital platform government

The Republic of Korea aims to create one-stop government that breaks down the barriers among ministries. It seeks to realize the Digital Platform Government that provides integrated, personalized and preemptive services from the public’s perspective through collaboration and data sharing among ministries. Another important goal is to build a scientific government based on data-driven policymaking. The Digital Platform Government will function as a platform for public-private cooperation. To this end, the committee will open most government-owned data and support up to private companies to deliver government services converged with their services through Open API. The Republic of Korea’s Digital Platform Government will also serve as a test-bed where the public and private sectors work together to try various experiments and innovations.

When a digital platform where citizens, businesses and government can collaborate is built, new value will be created through data sharing and convergence. The service will be improved in terms of up-to-date and well-timed aspect through the introduction of the Cloud, resulting in an increase in value. In addition, the cost of building and operating the system will be converted into a subscription fee according to usage, reducing the overall cost of information system. The effect will be multiplied by the increase in value and the decrease in cost, allowing the experience of greater benefits.

Key tasks of digital platform government

The Korean government will focus on the following tasks to implement the best Digital Platform Government where all data is connected.

First, the government plans to build an innovative infrastructure of the Digital Platform Government to promote private-public cooperation and provide fully integrated one-stop government services. From this point of view, we will enhance the advanced connectivity between existing systems and then design and establish new innovative infrastructure in line with the philosophy of the Digital Platform Government. In the last stage, we plan to create an environment for providing tailored services that meet the people’s heightened expectations by actively introducing the private sector’s cutting-edge technologies, such as cloud computing, big data and hyper-scale AI.

Second, the government plans to fully open and promote the use of highly valuable data that the public wants. To this end, the government will abolish regulations or systems that hinder and impede the opening and use of data, and facilitate high-quality data through data standardization, MyData (to empower individuals by improving their right to self-determination regarding their data), and pseudonymized information promotion policies.

Third, the government will innovate by taking full advantage of AI and data technology. Private-public, inter-ministerial, and central-local government collaboration will become commonplace, moving away from a segmented work process centred on individual ministries. Furthermore, data-driven policymaking will be emphasized to take precedence over practices and experiences. We also plan to significantly strengthen digital capability education so that public officials can easily adapt to the AI/data-driven work process.

Last but not least, the government plans to build a reliable information security environment so that all citizens can trust the Digital Platform Government. By establishing a system that can transparently check personal information access or utilization history, we aim to relieve public anxiety over personal information leakage or abuse. Moreover, we will build a safer and more reliable Digital Platform Government by adopting state-of-the-art security technologies such as blockchain, AI, and quantum cryptography.

A leading country in the digital era

The Digital Platform Government is about a paradigm shift in the operation of government in which citizens and businesses are at the centre, and the government supports them. It will be a government that reaches out to citizens and companies, not a government that lets them come. In the Digital Platform Government, the ministries will collaborate with each other, and the government and the private sector will cooperate to solve problems jointly. The Digital Platform Government will serve as a test-bed for many startups to plan and demonstrate new services. Creative ideas from the private sector will become a reality, and competent startups will flock together to create an ecosystem on the Digital Platform Government.

The Republic of Korea will make the Digital Platform Government a global standard and share and spread its success stories and achievements. In March, the Korean government will unveil the Digital Platform Government roadmap and develop specific goals and tasks. We invite you to a new path that the Republic of Korea will make.

A Special Address by Yoon Suk Yeol, President of the Republic of Korea, will take place on January 19 at 11:30–12:00 CET.

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