Addressing the digital infrastructure challenge

December 15, 2020

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The pandemic is driving huge demand for digital capacity – both from citizens and businesses, and from the public bodies tasked with delivering services online. And this clock won’t be turned back: long-term economic and technological changes, accelerated by COVID-19, are creating ever greater pressure for nations to develop their digital infrastructures.

At this Global Government Forum webinar, civil service leaders from around the world will explore the policies, strategies and capabilities required to meet spiralling public demand for information exchange and processing. What systems, networks and data centres are needed to support economic growth, public interactions and service delivery? What are the options for planning, funding and delivering them? And how can civil service leaders ensure that systems have the bandwidth and coverage to reach all communities, providing universal access to service delivery and economic opportunities in the fast-growing digital world?

Even before the pandemic, developing digital infrastructure was a priority for many governments. In most countries, it’s now top of the list: at this Global Government Forum webinar, senior officials discussed how best to provide accessible, fast, reliable digital connectivity – meeting the needs of elected leaders, public service providers, businesses and citizens alike.


Webinar chair: Siobhan Benita, former UK senior civil servant

Siobhan Benita was a senior civil servant with over 15 years’ Whitehall experience. She worked in many of the major delivery departments, including Transport, Environment, Health and Local Government. She also had senior roles at the heart of Government in the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury, including supporting the then Cabinet Secretary, Lord O’Donnell to lead work on Civil Service reform and strategy. Siobhan left the Civil Service to run as an independent candidate in the Mayor of London election. She subsequently joined her alma mater, Warwick University as Chief Strategy Officer of Warwick in London and Co-Director of the Warwick Policy Lab.

Indrek Õnnik, Global Affairs Director, Government CIO Office, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Estonia

Indrek Õnnik is the Global Affairs Director of the Government CIO Office of Estonia. He is currently responsible for the cross-border co-operation between the Government CIO Office and international stakeholders, both from public and private sector. He also represents his country in various international organisations as well as conferences globally. He was previously positioned as the Project Manager of the e-Estonia Briefing Centre where he was hosting high level delegations from around the world and introducing them the specific policies and and strategies of Estonia along the path of becoming an advanced digital nation. His overall background is much related to digitalisation, international affairs and cross-border cooperation.

Dieter J. Tschan, E-Government Representative for the Swiss Confederation, Ministry of Finance (FDF), Federal IT Steering Unit (FITSU), Switzerland

Dieter Tschan is the eGovernment Representative for the Swiss Confederation, Federal IT Steering Unit, Ministry of Finance in Switzerland. eGovernment Switzerland manages and plans digital services and transformation across the Confederation, cantons and municipalities. It coordinates at the federal level and networks internationally. He is also a founding partner of Nimeda Consulting GmbH, a consultancy for the medical profession. He has held many other senior roles in the private sector, including as chief executive of BRZ Schweiz AG, an international software company that supports the use of IT in the construction industry.

Ashley Lumsden, Director of Government and Public Affairs, Huawei Technologies (UK)

Ashley Lumsden currently serves as Director of Government and Public Affairs, in charge of Huawei’s UK strategy for relationship building with the UK Government, Parliament, and Regulators. Over the past 4 years at Huawei he has worked with colleauges in the UK, Brussels and Shenzhen Headquarters to develop solid strategic relationships with policy-makers, regulators, advisers and legislators, and has worked with international organisations such as the OECD and UNCTAD. As part of his work at Huawei, Ashley serves as a member of the CBI’s International Advisory Group, is a board member of the Commonwealth Telecoms Organisation and has joined the Business at OECD delegation to the Committee for Digital Economy Policy.

Before joining Huawei, Ashley was Special Adviser to the then Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Sir Vince Cable in the UK Coalition Government and prior to that was an adviser on finance, transport and infrastructure policy at City Hall, London. Ashley studied Mathematics at Imperial College London.

Morten Meyerhoff Nielsen, EGOV Advisor at Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance, UNU-EGOV, United Nations University (UNU)

Morten Meyerhoff Nielsen is an EGOV Advisor at Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance at UNU-EGOV in Portugal. His focus includes ICT facilitated administrative burden reduction, public service delivery, online usability and personalization, public service delivery ecosystems, one-stop-portal design, and usability tests (Denmark, Oman, Saudi Arabia). Other work includes development and evaluation (Armenia, Albania, Faroe Islands, Dubai, Georgia, Indonesia, Latvia, MENA region), institutional frameworks, and performance management (Armenia, Albania, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Oman, UAE, Uganda). Other expertise in data reuse, eID management and PKI infrastructure, and personalization of eServices (Armenia, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Latvia, US, Saudi Arabia).

Morten regularly conduct executive and university course training on eGovernment issues, the digital transformation of service production and delivery, disruptive technologies, innovation, smart nations, cities and communities and social media related issues in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and beyond.

Past employment includes the Danish Agency for Digitisation, Danish Technological Institute, Policy and Business Analysis, European Institute of Public Administration, Centre for the Development of Enterprise, European Commission DG DEVL, and University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is educated in Denmark, South Africa, the UK. With Degrees in political science, international economic management plus a phd in technology governance from Tallinn University of Technology.