Government: Doing new with less

Governments around Europe continues being under strong pressure to reduce costs. Doing more with less is not enough in this context; in fact, over the past three or four years a few administrations resorted to doing less with less. Last year...

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Governments around Europe continues being under strong pressure to reduce costs. Doing more with less is not enough in this context; in fact, over the past three or four years a few administrations resorted to doing less with less.

Last year provided evidence that a new attitude to doing "new with less" by reinventing service delivery through mobile apps provided by third party providers, by leveraging services of commercial providers also in sensitive areas, such as user authentication, and by piloting new business models for citizen service that take advantage of leading-edge R&D conducted by academia and global technology companies:

  • In Spain, the Basque government decided to adopt the Alpify mobile app to increase speed and effectiveness of emergency response. The app enables citizens to communicate their location to first responders along with the phone number, age, and native language, thus favoring a more rapid and accurate dispatch of crews. The cloud-based service is being used also by first responders in Andorra and other administrations in Spain and France. The app can send an SMS if there is no 3G connection in the area. In the UK, the StreetLink app helps councils support over 4,000 rough sleepers. The app allows members of the public to contact their local authority about vulnerable people, who are then assisted by outreach workers. StreetLink is run by charities Homeless Link and Broadway with support from the government. Commute Greener a mobile app that started out as an idea from a group of Volvo employees to calculate the environmental impact of their commutes is now used by employees in the City of Gotenburg and Mexico City councils.
  • Experian, the Post Office, Mydex, Verizon and Digidentity signed contracts with Cabinet Office's Government Digital Service to provide a way for citizens to securely prove who they are when logging into government websites. The identity assurance service will enable people to assert their identity online safely and securely, and allow government to be confident that users of online services are who they say they are. The first trial of the tech will be used by company car drivers and employers filling in P11D staff expenses forms for HMRC.
  • A £1.5 million pilot project will see driverless cars transport people through the streets of Milton Keynes from 2015. 20 of the vehicles will travel on special pathways separated from pedestrians around the Buckinghamshire town's shopping centre. By mid-2017 it is planned that 100 fully autonomous cars will be in operation, sharing pathways with pedestrians and equipped with sensors to avoid collisions. The driverless pods, which can carry two people each, will be able to travel at a maximum speed of 12mph and come with screen that allows passengers to check email and browse the internet while being ferried to their destination. Each journey could cost £2, although that will be subject to a study next year. Initially the driverless cars will ferry passengers from the town's rail station to its shopping centre just over a mile away - currently a 20-minute uphill walk. One option under consideration for the car is the EN-V by General Motors, dubbed the "bubble car", which was first unveiled in 2010. The early collaborators on the project are engineering consultancy firm Arup, Transport Systems Catapult, the Automotive Council UK and Cambridge and Oxford Universities.

Posted by Massimiliano Claps