Trust and transparency: safeguarding citizen confidence in a digital-first public sector
Hard-earned, easily lost…and once lost, nearly impossible to regain. We trust the people and organizations that we depend on—from doctors to banks, supermarkets to the government—to protect our interests.
What hides in the shadows
In an increasingly digital-first world, Canadians have come to trust the necessity of digital government—and to rely on its conveniences. Remote access to government and public sector services, more and better apps, and connected personal data make our lives easier and safer. Driving these advances? Data.
When it comes to citizen data, trust fails when there’s a lack of transparency. Transparency means telling users what’s going on with their personal data: how it’s secured, who can access it and how it’s being used, how to get it back, and what it’s costing them. Users can’t trust government data privacy and ethical handling practices if these practices are obfuscated by complicated access, regulations, and contracts.
As government and public sector agencies transform to a digital-first environment, creating and maintaining public trust will hinge on protecting citizen data—and the public purse—and that calls for Canadian sovereign cloud, no-fine-print costing, and transparent partnerships with trusted, industry-sound service providers.
Who’s watching your data?
In recent years, digitalization and emerging cloud technology have left governments around the world scrambling to backfill regulatory gaps around who can access cloud data and what they can do with it. But consider the global nature of data: collected in one jurisdiction, by a company that’s based in another, and then stored in a third. The only solution for sensitive citizen data (think: health, travel, identity) is sovereign cloud. And happily, organizations are overwhelmingly adopting sovereign strategies. In a recent survey, 98% of IT organizations polled have data sovereignty strategies in place and 49% are using hybrid or regional cloud[i].
We don’t let foreign interests control critical Canadian infrastructure like telecom, hydro, or air carriers—and data is part of that infrastructure. Every country should have a sovereign cloud that can guarantee the inviolability of the data supply chain for their sensitive citizen data. ThinkOn is proud to be the only Canadian CSP capable of offering data sovereignty to the Government of Canada.
The money pit
When you’re building a new app, cloud spend can easily spiral. Gartner estimates that 60% of public cloud customers face overruns that have a significant negative impact on their budgets[ii], and in a 2021 S&P study, 34% of enterprises polled, said egress charges have affected their use of cloud storage, causing them to repatriate data on-premises or shift to a service provider that doesn’t charge for egress[iii].
You can never be sure how much cloud you’ll need, how the app will use the cloud, or how often you’ll have to pull data back out, but when the hyperscalers build hidden ingress and egress fees into their contracts, you can be sure to kiss your cloud spend budget goodbye.
Vendor lock-in is not just bad business, it’s unethical. Billing should be simple and transparent, with no fine print, no escalating cloud allocation usage charges, and no hidden fees—ingress, egress, or otherwise.
…Who’s there? Not knowing who’s building and backing your app is no joke. If you don’t know who’s involved, how can you ensure that the app and its related data are safe? Complex organizational structures, full of contractors and subcontractors, allow companies to hinder transparency and evade accountability.
In a digital-first government, there must be transparency around who has access to citizen data: not just who you are partnered with, but also who they are affiliated with. ThinkOn works with a handful of trusted partners, and we don’t hide who they are—we say it loud and proud—because they are industry leaders.
When the pandemic hit, governments faced unprecedented pressure to adopt cloud-based services that could support the rapid roll-out of necessary supports. Later, as these rushed solutions came under scrutiny, gaps began to appear—issues around data sovereignty, usage fees (and vendor lock-in), escalating costs, lack of transparency, and ultimately, loss of public trust.
With transparency comes vulnerability: owning your mistakes and learning from them. That means knowing where sensitive data is stored and who can access it; insisting on simple, granular billing with no fine print, no hidden fees, and no vendor lock-in; and aligning yourself with transparent and trustworthy partners who don’t have subcontractors lurking behind third-party privacy agreements.
Simplicity, transparency, and accountability. That’s how you build trust.
ThinkOn is the only CSP capable of offering sovereign cloud to the Government of Canada. Our services are built on a model that puts simplicity first, with no-surprise billing, no fees—ingress, egress or otherwise—and no vendor lock-in. We are a trusted partner who understands public sector needs and the critical nature of data supply chain protection for Canada’s future.