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The challenges of digital technology for local authorities

Step 6

Follow, evaluate and communicate on the digital transition


Define monitoring indicators, draw lessons from pilot actions and communicate.

The use of digital technology must be monitored and modified gradually as the development unfolds and the services are used. This monitoring must allow the continuous adjustment of digital solutions depending on uses and user feedback, from citizens, entrepreneurs, civil servants and developers.

Monitoring, capitalisation and evaluation

To facilitate the evaluation, and be able to draw significant lessons, it is sufficient to follow one or two good indicators instead of wishing to measure everything in parallel. These indicators must be objectively measurable and based on reliable, stable data. They must allow the identification of the factor that enabled an improvement in the situation.

For each project, the local authority must therefore undertake precise monitoring of the desired impact and steer the digital initiatives depending on the results obtained.

An evaluation committee could be set up for the purpose. Composed of a limited number of persons, it must, however, represent all the sectors and users concerned and ensure the expression of the points of view of all the stakeholders. This committee must intervene according to a relatively tight, sustained schedule to assess the progress gradually.

The production of data is also a means of evaluating public policy and development projects: progress on the localisation of SDGs draws for example on data produced and disaggregated at local level, and can be used to highlight the progress of the cities towards sustainable development.

Throughout the monitoring of digital initiatives, it is important to be cautious about the risks, limits and conditions of success. Several conditions must be met to ensure the success of a digital tool.

  • Accompany human change and in terms of practices: a new digital tool will not change behaviour and uses, but by promoting new behaviour and uses, the digital tool finds its full expression.
  • Make sure, therefore, that the tool is a response to a local urban need or challenge: it is important to keep in mind the needs and uses for which the tool was designed, and continuously check that it fulfils its purpose.
  • Share information: agree to open data, share code, be a part of an open process which is the foundation of a sustainable global innovation partnership approach.

Remain cautious about the “non-digital”: neighbourhoods, categories of citizens, of services may remain outside the digital spectrum for lack of access, or quite simply because the problem is not amenable to a digital solution. It is not because there is no data available that there is no problem!

Key questions

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?

ommunication, transparency and accountability

Digital technology is also a tool for transparency, facilitation of exchanges, and reduction of asymmetries of information. Setting up a system for the circulation of information, sharing open data and making public the information relative to the way local government works in the city, means enabling dialogue between departments within a local authority and with the local partners. Digital tools also feed a form of accountability of the local authority vis-à-vis the users.

The local authority must be able to report on the results of the introduction of digital technology in its actions to justify the investments made, incite users to make use of the system and attract new partners. Regular consultations are also a decisive means of evaluating the level of user satisfaction to adjust the functionality of the tool and better respond to needs and demands.

The dematerialisation of exchanges creates new spaces for virtual exchanges. But the conventional communication channels (face-to-face mechanisms, traditional media) must not be neglected, or there is a risk of not attracting new users, some of whom are not yet equipped with digital technology.

Key questions

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?

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