Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

What is the most important issue that should be discussed at the workshop? - Sunshine?

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Workshop 2 covers a diverse range of areas.  Which do you think are the most important? For me it is the need to increase the number and growth rate of individuals using eGovernment services. On a provocative frivolous note this is probably related to sunshine.

Using eGovernment services should provide major opportunities for 'cross-selling' to users involvement in decision making, empowerment and other activities.  However, eGovernment use remain stubbornly low despite a relatively healthy increase in Internet use.  Or is it possible that these other uses could be the driver to encourage users to utilise digital public services?

In the four year period between 2007 and 2010 (the last year for available statistics) the percentage of individuals using eGovernment services (in the last three months) increased from 30 to 32 per cent (Eurostat tsdgo330).  In the same time period the level of household internet use increased from 55 to 70 per cent (Eurostat tin00134). 

The highest levels of eGovernment use are generally in Northern Europe (for example in 2010 Denmark 72%, Iceland 77%, Norway 68%, Sweden 62%), the lowest are often in Southern Europe (for example in 2010 Greece 13%, Italy 17%).  I once undertook the anlaysis - there is a very high correlation with annual hours of sunshine.

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Two suggestions: 1) The ability to give feedback on use of services would help, not many of the services I use have an easy way of giving feedback and engaging the user in their improvement. 2) Expanding from this, e-government is pretty much a one way street. It feels from Government to the public. There is not much allowance for ideas to come from the public and be taken up by Government. The next time an issue is there for discussion locally or nationally the discussion could be widened out from the Council Chamber.
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Lack of feedback is a useful observation. Singapore provides a useful example of better practice, see http://bit.ly/13kEpnL. However, the link ('feedback') is hidden away on the top right hand corner of a rather 'busy' home page. Are there other good practice examples?
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Just to endorse these suggestions, when I project managed the eVoting trials in the UK in 2003, a frequent comment from potential voters we spoke to whilst drumming up support was that they would only be prepared to get really engaged if there was a way of feeding back comments and suggestion to the politicians, and that there was clear evidence that the politicians listened, & amended Government services accordingly.
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Interesting debate why take-up of eGovernment services is so low ... or so high. The question is that we do not have data to make such assertion. Eurostat gives us the results of survey related to users, this data has a connection with take-up but do not give us the complete view. What is important for governments (as for banks) is the percentange of cases handled online vs face-to-face. In the countries with a lower percentange of users (Italy, Greece and Spain in some degree) you have an strong tradition of intermediation in the relationships with government. People and businesses use a third party to apply for grants, taxes and so on. This model has migrated to online scenario due to the lower usage of Internet that also happens in southern countries. The question is if we should expect a different model of relationship in the digital arena than in face-to-face arena. This is not happen only in government. The perecentage of e-banking users in Sapin is lower than e-gov users according with Eurostat. What is more, the gap between the average number of e-banking users in EU and in Spain is bigger than for e-gov services. So it is not a question os sunshine, in my opinion. It is a question of different model of relations.
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Interesting and useful point. Any study should also include postal and telephone inquiries as well as online and face-to-face channels. I know a few people in eGovernment and terrrestrial service delivery in local authorities, I'll try to get some numbers.
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eGovernment take up is a relevant topic to be taken into account. But the key challenge is to design effective government services according to the user needs. I agree that the relationship model needs to be taken into account when designing egov services. Apart from low broadband coverage in rural and mountainous areas, in some countries such as in Italy low egov services take up vs full availability demonstrate the failure of many public administrations in selecting the right egov portfolio solutions & service models not taking into account user needs and expectations. A huge amount of money has been spent over the last years. For example in Italy the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion mapped 2.1 B € projects funded by ERDF in the area of Digital Agenda http://www.opencoesione.gov.it/progetti/temi/agenda-digitale/. By the end of the year public sector organizations will finalise the allocation of cohesion policy funds for 2014 – 2020. In time of economic crisis, it is extremely relevant that the next ERDF funds addressed to the implementation of the Digital Agenda & egovernment are used in a wise way. Discussion around these topics are relevant.
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I had an interesting discussion with Master students at Cranfield University last week about take up, the use of different channels and customer satisfaction. Two key issues were identified. Firstly, the best online or smart pohne user interface in the world might not promote re-use if the service outcome (subsequent delivery or action) is poor. The need to provide a good and timely service will probably affect (ex post) user perception whatever the channel used. Secondly, user perception could be greatly improved if passive or pro-active (SMS messages) tracking was provided to enable users to know the progress of service delivery, but very few providers offer this service.
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An interesting topic I would like to follow the trade-off between facilitating the citizens the access to online services and the amount of spurious reports received. It is logic to assume that easiness might foster the appearance of fake reports (for example citizens reporting abandoned cars). At what extend are government organisation willing to cope with this? Is this going to affect the expected increase in efficiency through the utilization of on-line channels?
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Obviously that might be not the more important topic, but it is an issue worth discussing
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Some suggestions: - Social medias as a new channel for government service provision ? - Standardisation of e-governement processes regardless to the channel used by the citizen.
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Thanks, standardisation is an interesting area.  I know data from various channels (face-to-face, telephone, mail, online) is ferquently processed through a common back-office system. 

At the national level - The 'old' BusinessLink (Point fo Single Contact) one-stop-shop to assist business access to services in the UK was able to provide a common format to pass-on enquiries generated from the central government web site to the 400 or so local administrations in the UK.  The redirection process (to the appropriate local administration) for various location specific  enquiries about a variety of local licences, permits and grants etc was undertaken through the type of standardised process you suggest.

At the local level - I was tangentially involved with some Masters students from Cranfield who were undertaking process improvement work with a local administration to better route enquiries through a standardised back office route.  I will contact them and ask them to provide some details.

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Some suggestions: - Social medias as a new channel for government service provision ? - Standardisation of e-governement processes regardless to the channel used by the citizen.
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In order to tackle the problems relating to the provision of some services (such as Street Management, Graffiti Cleansing, etc) on an anonymous English Local Authority, the Cranfield Students focused on the interaction between the council and the residents, leaving the provision of the services aside. They examined the flow of information between the residents and the back office (which finally controls delivery of the service). The Local Authority utilises a CRM system to manage some of the customers’ interactions. In this context, a CRM system is simply software that organizes, routes, schedules and tracks citizens’ interactions and the tasks needed to fulfill resident’s requirements. Currently, only interactions carried out by the Call Centre or by the Face to Face channel are completely managed by a CRM system.  Contacts performed by Surface Mail or by the Website go directly to back office, without the support of the CRM system. We (the students) consider that the Local Authority will  benefit from adopting a fully (or highly) integrated architecture of Information and Communication Technologies. This will help the council to receive and manage the information in a standardised way, delivering a better service to its residents. In order to achieve that, we encourage the local authority to adopt a structure in which all the information is managed by the CRM system regardless of the channel used for interation. This means that interactions carried out not only through the Call Centre and the Face to Face Channel but also through the Web Site and Surface Mail should be stored in the systems using the CRM. Once the information is stored, the CRM will administer the work load, distributing the tasks to the back office workers. If this proposal is successfully carried out then quality and features of the service provided will be identical for the different channels, hence citizens will choose a channel only considering their personal preferences (in term of affinity) and not because seeking to a better or faster response.

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Is the organisation well motivated to serve its users in a meaningful way?

Is it charged with the right powers and resources, and sufficiently linked to other stakeholders upon whom users will depend on receiving connected services?

Is the organisation structure right?

How can EU member states share best practice, benchmark against each other, and create a strong network? To such an extent that organisations measure themselves against performance in other countries.

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Markus

Thanks this will be useful basis for background and benchmarking at the workshop.

 

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Take-up of eGovernment (by citizens) is, in my view, one of the core issues in the near future. I regard it as important as the search for the business case in order to attract industry to incorporate eGovernment solutions in their products. Thus thake-up should be discussed in the session.

In this context we may also discuss 'Gamification' as a new and unusual means to facilitate take-up. Translating eGovernment services in (meaningful) games could help to catalyse take-up. Games can offer a very different incentive structure than 'real-life'.
(For more ideas read: Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World).

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Markus, thanks.  Gamification is an interesting idea.  I'll raise it at the workshop tomorrow.  Bon voyage.

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