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Key questions

A list of questions to ask yourself before committing.

Choose keywords that convey a digital vision

What must digital technology contribute to as a priority in my city?

  • Local economic development?: experimentation, innovation and creation of new services; increasing competitiveness of firms; improving the appeal and city image…
  • Social inclusion and local democracy?: access for all to digital tools (public terminals and Wi-Fi); cooperative public services; citizen participation and co-construction; increased accountability and transparency…
  • The sustainability of my territory?: planning and forecasts; better knowledge of the territory; constitution and analysis of databases; preservation of natural resources, etc.
  • Modernisation of the local public action of my administration?: efficiency of the management procedures; reduction of administrative costs and time-frames; relevance and legitimacy of the decisions by defining priorities in accordance with the needs of the population.

Define what you want to use digital technology for

Support the production and use of information, and especially data

  • Producing, collecting, storing, processing, analysing and sharing data: which action(s) must the local authority take charge of?
  • Which types of data that are important for municipal development and public action should be given priority: statistics, council decisions, maps, civil registry?
  • For what purposes should the local authority use and exploit the data generated: knowledge, forecasting, controlling, programming?
  • For which users: the local authorities, third party public authorities, the private sector, citizens?
  • What are the limits to be anticipated: data storage capacity, data formats, ignorance of the problems for which there is no data?

Facilitate communication and the exchanges between the stakeholders of the territory.

  • Which priorities: connect the stakeholders who are disconnected, foster the emergence of new stakeholders, encourage new ways of exchanging?
  • Which stakeholders: connected users, vulnerable populations, the private sector, informal sector, the NGOs?
  • To what ends: to raise awareness, consult, open new markets, tax, census?
  • In what form: information campaigns, forums, call centres, social networks, trade services?
  • With what limits: feed the practices that bypass local authorities; develop a supply and demand system that excludes the most vulnerable; dependency on intermediaries?

Design an inclusive digital system

  • Who are the people excluded from digital technology or from the service to be developed: senior citizens, women, peripheral neighbourhoods, informal sector?
  • Why are they excluded, what are the obstacles they come up against: cost too high, literacy barrier, cultural practices, zone not covered?
  • How can they be included, what targeted system can be put in place to include them: digital literacy classes, digital mediation, communication campaigns, public facilities and access, simplified design?
  • Which partners can be involved: which intermediaries are the best placed to transmit the knowledge and know-how necessary for the appropriation of digital tools?

Know the national framework for digital technology

  • What are the national and international programmes, competitions and calls for projects that can rally specific funding for digital innovation?
  • What are the programmes for deployment of telecommunications infrastructure on the territory, which would show the possibilities for extension or improvement of coverage?
  • Who are the telecommunications and data regulators? What is the regulatory framework, the degree of openness and of competition in the sector?
  • What is the distribution of skills and responsibilities between the different levels of government, any regional or provincial agencies that can serve as relays?
  • What is the national framework on data security and protection?

Estimate ICT penetration rate on the local territory

Identify the stakeholders likely to become partners

Who are the local stakeholders most familiar with and keenest to use digital technology?

The idea is to list the stakeholders potentially concerned either by the digitalization of a specific project, or by the emergence of ICT and the associated ecosystem.

Identify the dynamics of stakeholders and the external resources that can be rallied

  • What would each potential partner gain by developing digital tools: profit expectations, social cause or political interest, generation of new knowledge, enhanced efficiency or democracy?
  • What are the resources of each that could be rallied for projects with the local authority: financial, technical, human, data?
  • What are the possible means of commitment and incentives to make them partners and conduct actions together: visibility and marketing, complementary partnerships, targeting of pilot actions?

Define the scope of a pilot action

  • What is the area we want to act on? Start from the city and drill down to a district, then a neighbourhood.
  • Which sectorial scope? Start from an administration and drill down to a service, a procedure.
  • With what amplitude? Identify a specific problem, sector niche, pilot project, an action integrated into a zone.
  • Using which lever or tool? Communication, a service application, sensors, the dematerialisation of a procedure?
  • By anticipating the switch to a larger scale: what will be the capacities for processing, saving, updating and upgrading the tools?

Identify the most suitable tools depending on the capacities and the objectives set

From schema, choose one or more affordable digital tools that the local authority can encourage (commission) or develop directly.

The “layers” of the digital city
Source: inspired by the Inter-American Development Bank, 2016, and the World Bank, 2016

Define your role depending on resources

An inventory of the technical, human and financial resources available that could be rallied for the local authority gives an idea of the types of actions and funding they could commit for scaling up.

  • Availability of data: how can data be made accessible to the local authority, how can third party stakeholders be given access to data to develop new services? How can some data be made open?
  • Innovation agenda: how to target, depending on resources, actions supporting digital innovation? Towards which co-funders should we turn?
  • Is there a municipal team or a small in-house group familiar with or interested in digital innovation?
  • Is it possible to release funds to finance open innovation events and subsidise start-ups for developing a prototype?
  • Are there any possibilities of funding to undertake investments in local infrastructure (Wi-Fi terminals, for example, GIS GIS Geographic information system: system designed to gather, store, process, analyse, manage and display all types of spatial and geographic data , servers to host production)?

Choose one indicator that is significant, measurable and adjustable

What are the indicators to be considered?

  • In terms of economic efficiency: revenue generation (increase of tax base, heightened recovery), gains in efficiency and costs avoided (savings of paper, energy)?
  • In terms of technical optimisation and management: reduction in corruption, reduction in losses or errors, prevention and attenuation of the impacts of a crisis (losses and damages avoided)?
  • In terms of social inclusion: increase the number of users, develop new services, enhanced transparency and confidence, user satisfaction?
  • In terms of environmental sustainability: reduction in the consumption of natural resources, reduction of pollution, improved public health?

Define the first communication actions

  • How to disseminate information and raise users’ awareness: communication campaigns, presence on social networks, websites?
  • How to provide information feedback and gather opinions: call centres, surveys and online questionnaires, a system for managing complaints and claims, urban problem reporting tools?
  • How to share, inform and create spaces for dialogue: online forums, participatory digital mechanisms, making available of open data?

Diagnosis of municipal digital maturity

Building a local digital strategy

  • Is the territory sufficiently mature: is there an adequate critical mass of start-ups; is the ecosystem already properly structured; is the level of population computer ownership and connectivity high enough?
  • Are digital skills present: are there bodies for development training; coaches or mentors capable of providing support to entrepreneurs; willingness on the part of public employees to make their practices evolve?
  • Are their sufficient financial means: is there a manifest interest on the part of investors; the possibility of obtaining and distributing subsides via calls for projects?
  • Is the regulatory framework stable: what is the regulatory framework for telephone service providers; the legislation on open data; what leeway do local authorities have for defining their rules?
  • Is there a clear vision of digital technology on the territory: is there a proper understanding of the concrete opportunities by sector; the risks, the control measures to be put in place?
  • Are the territory’s problem issues amenable to digital solutions: have the urban problems been clearly identified and listed; is there any data on these problems which can be shared and submitted to the innovators to propose solutions?

A list of questions to ask yourself before committing.