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On Wednesday September 30, the SAP Institute for Digital Government hosted an executive roundtable at the Institute’s home base in Canberra.  The roundtable was attended by a cross section of participants representing government ministries, academia, non-government organisations, SMEs, innovation incubators and the IT sectors.  Along with industry associates from the Institute, the roundtable examined the topic :  Social Protection  – Exploring the use of data to improve social outcomes – managing a new moral hazard.  This topic follows on from the workshop conducted by the Institute at the European Social Network’s Annual Conference in Lisbon in July 2015. http://www.esn-eu.org/events/32/index.html


The SAP Institute for Digital Government will release a discussion paper on this topic.  The release will coincide with the formal launch of the Institute to be held in late October during a special event conducted in association the NDIS New World Conference: Disability In The 21st Century  http://www.ndisconference.com/ The discussion paper has the working title:  Improving social outcomes through predictive analytics and managing the emerging moral hazard and ethical challenges.  This working title reflects the roundtable discussions with a positive message emphasising the benefits of predictive analytics can be realised by managing the inevitable business challenges such as data sharing, the ethics of predictive modelling and privacy protection. 


Data and how we use data is in the news.  The commercial world is racing to create new business models based on data collected across a variety of sources.    While consumers are rightly concerned at how well some commercial organisations seem to know their preferences in terms of targeted service offers, there is a growing acceptance of the value derived from trading personal information for value in return from commercial organisations.  In the world of social protection where the value data brings to evidence based policy development and service delivery transformation is well established, bringing it together from across disparate sources to create public value while protecting people’s rights, creates new challenges.    We are seeing this in the healthcare sector as personalised medical interventions become based on people’s genomic footprint.  Rising social program costs including healthcare are a growing concern at all levels of government yet the capability to address these through real time analysis of the mountains of data generated,  structured and unstructured, remains limited.


Understanding where value is achieved in terms of better social and economic outcomes for individuals and communities is essential  in these financially challenged times and crucial for successful digital government initiatives.  The public at large demands value from the significant investment in social protection yet individual rights in terms of data privacy must be protected and ethical concerns addressed.  Combining data for research purposes is already a complex process.  Going the next step and combining data for use in an operational manner to enable better targeting of programs and service offers through predictive algorithms followed by real-time evaluation of outcomes, is a quantum leap in terms of complexity from an ethical, moral and societal acceptance perspective.  However as this explosion of data is already happening around us and organisations both government and commercial seek to exploit this asset, the “genie is literally out the bottle”. 


The roundtable, through a series of hypothetical questions, considered what the actors in the social protection ecosystem can do to identify and manage the risks.  This is not just a government problem and all the actors in the ecosystem have roles and responsibilities to exercise.  Transparency in creating and demonstrating the public value proposition is crucial to building support amongst the general population for targeted interventions through the use of predictive analytics.  The discussion paper will stimulate discussion and further research on this important topic to encourage innovation in critical thinking, business processes and product development.  Innovations in these areas are key ingredients for building public support and confidence in the use of predictive analytics in social protection.


The discussion paper will be posted via the institute website after the formal launch at the end of October.

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