On Tuesday 19 October, UserCentriCities partners gathered for the third edition of the UserCentriCafé .
During the café, partners meet up and engage informally around user-centric services. Each edition sheds light on one city's projects and challenges. The city presents its digital services, or a project being developed and asks for comments and feedback from the crowd.
This month, Bjorn Dirkse, process manager for innovation at the Municipality of Rotterdam presented Rotterdam’s digital counter or digitale balie.
The idea of developing a digital counter started before the COVID-19 pandemic but accelerated in March 2020 when the government announced that the Netherlands had to think of an ‘intelligent lockdown’. The city of Rotterdam started working on a platform to deliver digital services to citizens that would normally take place at the city townhall counter.
Rotterdam gathered expertise from different actors to comply with all their requirements, including high regulations in terms of security and data protection, and build an all-encompassing solution. The goal was not to make citizens install any app or a specific tool to ensure wider and easier onboarding. Thus, the city developed a digital counter directly embedded to a website with the possibility to have a video chat, upload documents, show them, make payments, etc. The structure is purposefully simple: no complex digital skills is needed. This tenet is also applicable to the municipal agents: it should not be a burden for employees – all employees should be able to use the service within 2-3 days of practice.
After less than two years of existence, already 80% of the municipal processes are made possible on the digital counter, such as declaring the birth of babies, which has been proven very useful during the pandemic. After the general presentation, Dirkse made a live demonstration of the digital counter, which impressed all the participants!
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