Generative AI, Virtual Reality Top Deloitte's Annual 2024 Technology Trends Report

The report anticipates six technology-related trends Deloitte analysts expect will be popular for governments in the coming year.

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This story originally appeared on American City & County

From the rise of artificial intelligence to increasingly complex cyberattacks, much has changed in the digital landscape over the last year. Local governments, which safeguard critical data and infrastructure, have been at the forefront of that evolution. Administrators need to be one step ahead of the technological curve to ensure their constituents are secure both physically and digitally. Projecting future changes is an integral part of that process.

"Every year … we can look at which specific areas are advancing — logical steps building on what happened last year," said Scott Buchholz, chief technology officer of Deloitte's government and public services about the firm's annual 2024 Government Technology Trends report. Noting significant strides in cybersecurity that have set the tone for the private sector, Buchholz said, "The government has made tremendous strides in adopting and using technology."

The report anticipates six technology-related trends Deloitte analysts expect will be popular in the coming year. The virtual reality and digital twinning for training and improving infrastructure, among other things; generative artificial intelligence (AI); different types of CPUs, GPUs, and custom chips; and streamlining the job tasks of developers by eliminating bureaucratic tasks to increase productivity.

"It is ever harder for organizations to attract and retain highly skilled technical talent as demand outpaces supply. To be more attractive workplaces for those looking for secure, mission-driven jobs, agencies should focus on improving the developer experience by reducing barriers to productivity, eliminating bureaucratic tasks, and providing continuous learning opportunities," the report says.

The final two trends are managing cyber threats and misinformation and the development of technical wellness plans that, over time, work to progressively incorporate more modern technologies and techniques instead of upgrading systems piecemeal. The report ranks each trend based on the relevance to local government, and the ability of organizations to adopt it.

"It turns out that increasingly powerful simulations of physical reality help inform how things are working," Buchholz said about the use of digital twinning in the public sector. When designing buildings, for example, planners can run simulations to better understand how certain features function.

Historically, local government has been slow to adapt in part because the public spector is expansive. Governments have a lot of technology, but a lot of it "was built to suit yesterday's mission," he continued. "What winds up happening is that, when people's expectations evolve, it's often hard to evolve the bulk of technology at speed to keep up with people's expectations."

Developing technical wellness plans, which take a birds-eye view to entire ecosystems rather tahn considering specific tasks, is one way to meet the challenge.

"A lot of organizations have allowed their systems to stagnate over time," Buchholz said, noting that a lack of progress historically is a current impetus that's pushing organizations to intentionally plan for future changes.

The evolution of technology isn't entirely problematic from an administrative standpoint. Advancements in chip technology have pushed the development of other types of tech like CPUs and GPUs, which in turn has driven down costs by giving administrators flexibility.

"Local governments are going to be able to take advantage of these technologies, particularly if they're in the cloud," he said. Machine learning applications like fraud detection require the transmission of a lot of data, which "can cost a lot of money. In some cases, you care that it takes a short time. In other cases, you don't care about the time, so it'll take longer but cost less."

Advancements in computing technology lets administrators trade time for money saved.

Staffing is also being positively impacted by emerging tech. Buchholz compared the benefits of generative AI to a good intern. AI is able to complete repetitive, basic tasks efficiently and quickly, but it requires oversight and guidance.

"We have technology today that's kind of the equivalent of a digital intern — they tend to be very confidence and reasonably competent," Buchholz said. AI might not be used to draft an entire strategy, but it could be leveraged for research purposes. He also highlighted its ability to search vast databases via plainly written commands. "We're seeing governments and agencies use the technology to search through policy documents. It's helpful to be able to ask an English query and get back a list."

For more information and to view the complete list, visit Deloitte's website.

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