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Improve relations between local authorities and citizens

Step 1

Clarify the political expectations of the local authority and commit to accountability


Embracing digital technology to improve exchanges between local authority and citizens is a strategic political commitment.

Civil society is prompt to embrace digital tools to convey social demands: this is called civic tech Civic tech
The use of technology to strengthen democratic bonds between citizens and government and improve the political system. This encompasses any technology allowing an increase in the power of citizens on political life, or making the government more accessible, efficient and effective.

. If they fail to acknowledge these new spaces for open dialogue, the local authorities run the risk of finding themselves faced with protest and claims facilitated by social networks.

Engaging in the digital sphere means entering into a virtuous circle of better service quality, transparency and accountability, greater confidence and greater willingness to pay on the part of the users. The capacities for public action are thus enhanced.

Digital technology can lead to change according to three dimensions:

  • E-administration: optimisation of administrative functioning via dematerialisation of in-house procedures, digitalization of processing and monitoring procedures;
  • E-government: opening of the information to the public via a web platform;
  • E-governance: citizen participation in public decisions facilitated and increased by digital tools.

Although independent, e-administration and e-governance approaches are quickly found to be related in practice. It is therefore important to design user services keeping in mind the management dimension internal to the local authority, which will be modified by this (cf. Part C, Section 2).

In order to bring the stakeholders onboard, and be able to show results rapidly, it is important to focus on problems of friction between local authority and citizens. Entering into a coproduction approach with citizens and inhabitants, facilitated by ICT, must enable trust to be boosted in return.

Practical exercise

Clarify expectations of digital technology to improve relations with users

Choose a reason for undertaking the use of digital technologies in the relations with the citizens

  • Enhanced legitimacy of decisions made, founded on citizen opinion?
  • Accountability of politicians vis-à-vis tax collection and budget allocations?
  • A possibility for the citizen and social movements to express themselves and cooperate on public actions?
  • A reduction in corruption and increased transparency?
  • Facilitation of administrative procedures (time saved for public agents and users)?

Identify the risks of exclusion and the targeted mechanisms to attenuate it

  • Which people have most difficulty entering into contact with government services?
  • Are the obstacles related to distance, cost or the time frames for the procedures?
  • Do they have easier access to dematerialised/online tools?
  • Which digital service design ensures that everyone understands and has faith?
  • Which stakeholders are already working on digital literacy?

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