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Mobile platform helps public administrations better connect with citizens

Offering personalised user experience and increasing engagement are two main hurdles public authorities must overcome when communicating with citizens. Government needs a more efficient way to make information and services for citizens easier to access and use.

Digital Economy

The idea behind the EU-funded project THUNDHUB was to create a platform where many different sources of public data could be communicated to users based on a location’s relevance. ‘The challenge was helping to bridge the gap between public authorities and citizens using mobile technology,’ says Mike Steere, the project’s coordinator. ‘Every piece of data has a location attached to it, and we deliver it to people when it’s relevant to their current location or the location of something they care about.’ Enhancing communication channels between government and citizens, THUNDHUB developed a mobile communication platform that makes data sharing from multiple sources easy for users. The platform improves two-way communication between users and public agencies. All public entities in an urban area are able to participate in geo-targeted (personalised) mobile communication with citizens. The THUNDHUB solution can be used across Android, iOS and the mobile web. It comes in multiple languages, and an integrations module makes it simple to connect data into and out of the platform. The technology is scalable and globally relevant. Pilots successfully took place at government organisations in Sweden. Research uncovered some of the barriers that small businesses have to address when wanting to work with the public sector. A gender impact analysis found that the platform had no negative gender bias. In fact, it has the potential to provide a positive impact. Helping people and organisations to be better engaged ‘Since the end of THUNDHUB, we’ve changed our more general data approach based partly on the some of the outcomes,’ explains Steere. ‘We’re focusing primarily on safety data as a data set. There’s a range of safety data from different public and private sector organisations that the project can deliver by location and help keep users informed and safer as a result. This is giving us focus in the data we collect, who we target as users or clients, and how we deliver the information and enable sharing,’ he adds. THUNDHUB is continuing to engage in community projects where the platform aids user engagement, data crowdsourcing and group empowerment. For example, the project assisted a disability action group by providing disabled car park data in real time. This encourages disabled persons to share disability parking infringements that trigger real-time notifications to parking enforcement officers. Traffic control can then take swift action. Towards a leading communication platform for cities globally Thousands of real users are currently receiving real-time, location-based notifications of important public information alerts on the platform. Steere says that the market-ready solution has extremely good growth potential – project partners have had contact with governments in over 15 countries already. International presence and awareness continues to drive both customer and investor interest. In 2017, the project was recognised for its efforts. THUNDHUB was a finalist for the Open Stockholm Award, an international prize that awards organisations for best use of open data. ‘We’ve created an exciting and flexible user-friendly platform that keeps people safer through the provision of relevant, actionable data when and where they need it,’ concludes Steere. ‘THUNDHUB will empower users and public entities by enabling them to share data and benefit from access to shared data sets from public, private and user-driven sources.’

Keywords

THUNDHUB, citizens, government, public authorities, safety data, mobile communication, mobile platform, user experience

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