Providing public services accessible and appropriate for both citizens and businesses, means providing equity, that is, equal rights and opportunity of participation for all. In other words, implement inclusion, one of the fundamental principles governing the eGovernment Action Plan of the European Union.
Tackling the digital divide is one of the pillars (VI) of Digital Agenda. Inclusion is also economically important: there is a cost in terms of under-utilization of human potential and damage to the behavior of the excluded. Europe of the Regions has the challenge to enhance all citizens digital skills to participate fully in society and be able to use the new digital administration, whether they have lower digital skills, are living in remote regions, have less income, or have special physical or mental needs.
Public administrations and governments have, to some extent, a much more difficult task to meet than businesses. They cannot choose their customers and have to serve each and every one. While companies can focus on efficiency, public administrations need to pursue both efficiency and equity.
Two capacities for this approach are needed:
- One is the ability to produce and provide customized services. The internal organization or administrative services, have to reorganize themselves putting the focus in the citizen. This often involves a technological change. It is about supporting coordination and collaboration between Departments, Regions and Member States, promoting joint actions on eGovernment. Where transparency and information and data sharing prime, allowing citizens and businesses access to them and its use and reuse, something that may benefit all (administrations and citizens).
- Second, it means communication skills, especially being able to engage in a deep interaction with citizens and figuring out individual needs. Such communication skills can take many different forms. A direct, but certainly not trivial, example is the multilingual support.