Improved digital public services in the Spanish-Portuguese border region
The “Transdigital Network: Red Rural Digital Transfronteriza” project brought together six local authorities in Spain and Portugal to share knowledge and strengthen online public services. This led to development of joint planning activities and encouraged use of information and communication technology (ICT) services by citizens and companies, thus improving quality of life, increasing employability and promoting competitiveness.
" Red Rural Digital Transfronteriza has developed online public services through joint efforts with local governments, created a collaboration network among representatives in charge of innovation in the local authorities, and promoted a joint training programme to raise awareness about the use of ICT among citizens, companies and local public employees. "
The partnership deployed online public services for citizens and companies, data and transparency services and self-assessment tools for authorities to gauge their innovation level. A catalogue was created for local authorities to share software, along with e-government and e-procurement applications and an official announcement portal.
Working groups of local authority technicians were set up to improve online services, and public events were organised and manuals were published to promote use of such services. Training on ICT use was held for citizens, companies and public employees.
Low levels of ICT training and use
A report was compiled at the outset on development of online public services within each authority involved in the project. As part of this, a technological audit was performed in over 40 municipalities and surveys on use of online services were carried out among citizens in rural areas.
The report concluded that provision of ICT training for people in the border region is lacking, as reflected in low levels of use of e-government services. The area is characterised by an ageing population, while a lack of digital skills among citizens hinders employability.
There was a need for modernisation within public administrations, while geographical isolation in some areas prevented people from accessing services, the report stated. The culture of cross-border cooperation between local authorities is weak and differing administrative procedures between Spain and Portugal are obstacles to this, the project concluded.
Collaboration and sustainable services
In response, the project developed sustainable digital public services for administrations on both sides of the border and promoted collaboration and sharing of good practice among local authorities with a view to creating new services. It also looked to better enable citizens, companies and public employees in rural areas to benefit from digital technologies.
This resulted in the formation of an ongoing collaboration network of local authorities and deployment of eight online public services. A total of 1 432 individuals and small businesses, 275 technicians in local bodies and 554 public employees were trained under the programme to promote ICT use.
Manuals for promotion of online public services covered issues such as social networks in local government, smart cities, open data, open government and ICT solutions to improve local government efficiency. They can be downloaded at the project website (www.redtransdigital.eu). Dissemination activities included events attended by over 300 people, a newsletter, the website and magazines.
The online public services, collaboration network and training programmes are continuously improved by the partners. The project has also led to development of further collaboration projects involving local authorities.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “Transdigital Network: Red Rural Digital Transfronteriza” is EUR 1 124 900, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 843 675 through the “Spain - Portugal” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.