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12° Nicosia,
11 May, 2021
 

How can digital government connect citizens without leaving the disconnected behind?

By getting to know their citizens, governments can address digital exclusion to help build a better working world

By Sakis Moyseos

Just when governments were adapting to challenges regarding the technological advancements, demographic shifts, increasing inequality and rapidly changing values; the global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated the urge for digitalisation transformation. Over the past year, the pandemic has increased the need for governments to offer more services remotely, and in some cases, they have been delivered entirely online.

Governments pushing ahead with increased online services, run the risk of alienating large numbers of their citizens due to concerns around data privacy, How can digital government connect citizens without leaving the disconnected behind? This creates the sense that governments must set priorities to meet the needs of citizens and engage them as coproducers of public value. This could be achieved with the ‘inclusive digitalization’.

By getting to know their citizens, governments can become more effective, address digital exclusion to help reduce social inequality and help build a more equable, better working world

With ‘inclusive digitalisation’ the rapid transformation of public services will be enhanced and will provide the same services as the private sector. Hence, with the use of digital services, inequality will be minimised, and no groups will be left behind.

Governments should focus on inclusive digitalisation by improving digital literacy and promoting virtual interaction. This could be achieved by providing digital resources like laptops and tablets in order to get people online and run programs to improve the digital skills.

Furthermore,investments in highs-speed digital infrastructure such as broadband and 5G networks will back-up the vision of the inclusive digitalisation.

Indicatively the following measures can promote virtual interaction between the governments and citizens:

Advances in technology and digitalisation prompt governments to better serve and get to know their citizens. In order to promote digital interaction, EYrun a survey that reveals a roadmap for governments attempting to deal with the increased digitisation of services brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Analysing the data gathered from the survey, 7 citizen personas were identified.

Studying the seven Connected Citizens personas will enable governments toplan digital service delivery mechanisms to cover everyone’s needs. The survey segments respondents into seven personas: Aspirational Technophiles, Capable Achievers, Diligent Strivers, Tech Skeptics, Privacy Defenders, Passive Outsiders and Struggling Providers.

These categories offer insights into how governments should consider working with different societal groups. The survey indicates that Aspirational Technophiles, Capable Achievers and Diligent Strivers are more comfortable with sharing their data to access a service or perform a transaction online, and with their data being shared. But there is a lack of support among Tech Skeptics, Privacy Defenders and Passive Outsiders about governments and businesses gaining access to their data. Whereas, although Struggling Providers are above average users of welfare services, they lack skills to make a difference in their lives.

These personas also give key insights into the perspectives of certain demographics around fundamental issues, such as immigration, climate change and globalization.The seven personasillustrate different perspectives, as it is important for governmentsto acknowledge the existing needs and gaps as well as act on what should be done to engage them with digitalization and technological advancements.

By getting to know their citizens, governments can become more effective, address digital exclusion to help reduce social inequality and help build a more equable, better working world.

Sakis Moyseos is Associate Partner and Leader of the Government Sector in Cyprus

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