Digital government: Co-creating innovative public services for citizens and businesses
From our individual wellbeing to our security, efficient and transparent public services have a direct impact on the quality of our lives. When used to their full potential, digital tools to support the modernisation of public administrations could further facilitate administrative processes, improve the quality of services through flexible and personalised interactions and increase public sector efficiency. This CORDIS Results Pack showcases 10 EU-funded projects that have pioneered innovative solutions and processes to fully launch Europe’s public services into the digital realm.
As the EU’s eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020 says: “Digital public services reduce administrative burdens on businesses and citizens by making their interactions with public administrations faster and efficient, more convenient and transparent, and less costly.” However, the vision and full potential of a modern public sector and the way public services are delivered in a more transparent government setting enabled by ICT has yet to be exploited. Challenges include the required change in approach when it comes to replacing paper-based processes by online interactions, better understanding the pro and cons, as well as the costs and benefits of collaborative service design and delivery. Another important consideration is the sheer technical complexity involved in guaranteeing interoperability across borders and services.
On the users’ side, citizens and businesses are increasingly expecting better public service delivery, burden reduction, transparency and participation. Citizens generally prefer not to have to supply the same information multiple times; so when possible, data needs to be shared and re-used among public administrations, in full compliance with data protection rules. This key concept is known as the ‘once-only principle’ and is one of the underlying aims of the EU eGovernment Action Plan.
The benefits extend beyond the convenience of paying your taxes online: there is also the opportunity to create real value by not only enhancing the efficiency of the EU Single Market that results in job creation and prosperity, but also, from a truly social perspective, giving citizens more freedom and control over how they engage with state authorities and the services they provide. The EU’s Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy for Europe incorporates the eGovernment Action Plan, as the efficient functioning of the Single Market depends on removing digital barriers.
Turning a vision and an ‘action plan’ into action
Delivering innovative eGovernment solutions and applying principles such as ‘digital-by-default’, ‘user-centricity’ – in particular ‘citizen engagement’ – and ‘once-only’ are some of the goals of the projects supported by the EU. By funding research that furthers these principles, whether it is putting in place technical solutions or encouraging citizen participation, the EU is bringing down the barriers that currently prevent us from exploiting digital technologies to their full.
Smart urbanisation and the sensors involved, the devices in our pockets, connectivity and cloud services are all powering open, innovative governance that enables people to access the services when they need them and how they need them. But the notion of the public as ‘clients’ is also shifting. By harnessing digital tools to their full capacity, the public can become a true partner and, in cooperation with public administrations, can co-create the services that suit them.
In this context, European public administrations are interesting showcases for experimenting with new technologies, taking into account privacy, security and ethical concerns. This pack outlines some of the research and innovation actions helping public administrations across Europe to maximise the full potential of Digital Government.
New tools, new approaches
All projects featured in this Results Pack are working to bring eGovernment closer to the public.
The smarticipate project addresses the challenge of getting citizens involved in decision-making while WeGovNow and ENLARGE promote co-production and co-delivery of public services at local level.
To improve the uptake of digital services, CITADEL focusses on the needs of public administrators to get insight into why citizens are not using available digital public services. Meanwhile, TOOP is piloting solutions to help administrators implement the ‘once-only principle’ by developing a federated technical architecture to connect national registries at the EU level, while SCOOP4C is aiming at simplifying administrative procedures for citizens.
Finally, RECAP helps both administrators and farmers alike adhere to the technical demands of the Common Agricultural Policy, saving both time and money, while OpenGovIntelligence pilots the use of Linked Open Statistical Data and the active participation of society and businesses in data sharing.