Great scott! It’s time for government to catch up to the future

By Tim West, Programme Manager on
In the late 80s Marty McFly (aka Michael J Fox) became my boyhood hero when he climbed into Emmett "Doc" Brown’s specially modified DeLorean DMC-12 and said, “Hey Doc, we gotta back up, we don’t have enough road to get up to 88mph.” Doc responds with, “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads”, and starts them on the adventure that is Back to the Future II, propelling them forward in time to 21 October 2015.

That movie was an insight into what people in the 80s thought 30 years into the future might look like. So, how perspicacious was it?

Well, it predicted eyewear that could act as a camera and a phone, and video conversations were a staple of interaction. Today we have Google Glass and, love it or hate it, the selfie stick, along with Skype and a myriad of other ways to video chat. It also predicted hovercams, which have been brought to life in the present in the form of personal drones. Other predictions, such as the Scenery Channel, fingerprint recognition and ‘smart’ clothing are all with us in some shape or form. Even the tantalising, but seemingly far-fetched, hoverboard is now making its presence felt, with several companies, such as Lexus, debuting prototypes.

All things considered, the technology predictions weren’t far off. But what about the social and government predictions? If we were living in 1985 and wondering about 2015, what would we have imagined the interactions between citizen and government have looked like?

I asked a few people this question and generally everyone thought the following would have been possible by now:

  • Tax returns would be automatically calculated using big data analytics
  • Car registration renewals would be automatically processed – no more need to sign a form and send it in.
  • Voting would be done on my iPhone using fingerprint recognition for verification
  • Childcare benefits would be automatically calculated and paid

It seems to me that we have achieved so much over the last 30 years in the consumer space, but government is really lagging behind – failing to use currently available technology to automate routine interactions with their customers, the citizens. If you need more proof, last week the Digital Transformation Office (part of the Prime Minister’s Office) released its programme and said that 2.5 million Australians (that’s about 1 in 8 of us) look up government information and services online each month, but a staggering 55% (that’s over a million Australians a month) were disappointed with the experience.

Imagine if a retailer disappointed 55% of its customers? It’s quite easy to imagine what would happen, and happen quickly!

Here at Oxygen, a DXC Technologies Company we are setting out to do something about this. Thirty years from now we want to be voting on our mobile while travelling to our next engagement in a self-driving car. Sure, we may still need roads, but let’s make sure the limits of technology are the constraining factor on our interactions with government, not the lack of technology adoption.

For further information please contact us at