Something’s going wrong on Europe’s journey to digital inclusion. Despite more than a decade of eGovernment initiatives, use of public online services is not meeting expectations. This is one of the findings in the annual eGovernment Benchmark Measurement of European eGov services.
Conducted by Capgemini the survey highlighted progress towards eGov across Europe in four areas: user centricity, transparency, cross-border mobility, and key enablers such as eID and eDocuments. Based on current progress, there’s still a long way to go.
Perhaps the digital bar has been set too high. Certainly, with delivery of Europe’s eGov Action Plan for fulfilling the Digital Agenda due next year, a new approach is required. The EC report outlining the eGov Benchmark findings and recommendations doesn’t suggest the target is too ambitious, but it does make the case for “a thorough re-think of how public services are organised”.
It adds that this rethink must embrace “the extent to which governments can re-use data, to reduce burdens, and deliver faster and better quality services”. By taking this step back and reassessing the situation, Europe can still benefit from the innovative public services that the EC believes will deliver on the European advantage.
Before that, however, governments need to include both tech-savvy, young mobile-using citizens and those at risk of digital exclusion in their digital transformation policies. The Benchmark report recommends designing services for these different user groups around life events, where an integrated set of services is organised around the life event of the user, regardless of government departments and tiers of activity. These life events include losing and finding a job, studying, and starting a business. It’s an approach successfully adopted by agencies in both Poland and Norway.
So, while the digital journey is progressing more slowly than hoped, there are ways in which it can ramp up a gear.