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With 2017 coming to an end it is time to reflect on where progress was made by leveraging technology to deliver better outcomes in Social Protection and what to expect in 2018.

As the Global Lead for Social Protection at SAP’s Public Sector Business Unit I had the opportunity to attend the World Social Security Forum 2016. At the event the International Social Security Association has published the Report on Ten Global Challenges for Social Security (https://www.issa.int/en/details?uuid=8d21eb96-8e9a-4303-9f1f-2329ac6efe57).

The report clearly showed that while there has been significant efforts and enhancements in most of these areas, there is a long way to go. It also pointed out the importance of technology to deliver innovation in Social Protection. Among them mobile technologies, Big data and e-government. You might also want to add other technologies like Blockchain, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Augmented Reality, Natural Language Processing and more.

While “Big data” might have a negative connation, I would call that “smarter usage of data by government authorities” or “Data-Driven Government”, we have seen promising examples (see below State of Indiana) in that area. They clearly show that the approach and data model must be centred around the citizen and its needs. So rather than having the data locked away in disconnected silos, an integrated view needs to be facilitated, enabling smarter use of data, better decision making, anticipating service needs.

The State of Indiana in the US had a wicked problem in the area of infant mortality. They had lots of data but weren’t able to address the issue because the data was scattered across 15 systems. They simplified the problem by creating a Management Performance Hub to integrate the various data sources, allowing for detailed investigation and analysis. Using this platform, they were able to statistically quantify the risk factors for infant mortality in their State, and to identify the subpopulations at highest risk. As a result, Indiana secured an additional $13.5 million for innovative new programs to proactively reduce childhood deaths within these subpopulations. And now that the data has been unlocked from its silos, the State has been able to apply it to addressing other issues, including proactively improving child welfare outcomes, combating an opioid epidemic, and even increasing traffic safety. Here you can find the link to a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGG-PrZr8t8

So what to expect for 2018? We will certainly see an increasing focus on technology driven Innovation. Evidence to that is the fact that ISSA member institutions have ranked ICT and the technological transition as one of their most important global challenge. Social Services conferences in 2018 focusing on ICT innovation like the 15th ISSA International Conference on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Social Security in Casablanca  https://www.issa.int/en/web/ict2018) or having technology as a key theme like the 26th European Social Services Conference (http://www.essc-eu.org/).

The SAP Institute for Digital Government (SIDG) is creating a series of articles, exploring the opportunities for emerging technologies like Blockchain, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Augmented Reality, Natural Language Processing to enable data-driven policy and practice within the context of Social Security administrations.

You can find more information on SAP for Social Protection and the new articles once published here: https://discover.sap.com/social-protection/en-us/index.html. Stay tuned in 2018 !

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