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The Digitisation Strategy: we are halfway and making progress towards the 2015 target

28-06-2013 Column

In 2011, the Danish Government, municipalities and regions adopted an ambitious digitisation strategy which was to thoroughly digitise the public sector and change the communication between public authorities and citizens and companies towards 2015.

Today, we are halfway with more than 70 specific initiatives that contribute to reaching the goal of a digital transformation of the Danish society. The changes are comprehensive and depend on committed cooperation across many organisations and staff.

Political courage and cooperation

Through a binding collaboration between Local Government Denmark, Danish Regions and government authorities as well as broad political cooperation, much legislation has been adopted that sets out a clear line and timetable for the transition to digital self-service and digital mail. At the moment we are, for example, developing the infrastructure, analysing new initiatives, reviewing the mandatory self-service solutions, and we are communicating on a daily basis with authorities and citizens.

The staff that every day provides service for citizens and companies plays an altogether special role in the digital transformation. We have for example visited two committed and enthusiastic staff from citizen service in the Municipality of Greve. They are actively involved in the municipality’s channel strategy, which means that those who are capable of coping on their own get help to do so, whereas those who are really in need of time and care from the municipality are sure to get it. For the benefit of both staff and the individual citizen – and not least local government coffers.

Minor obstacles on the road

In June, we took stock halfway through the life of the strategy. I am very proud that we have come this far – even though there have been many obstacles on the road, and even though we have not been able to develop a mobile version of NemID (called Mobil NemID) – the Danish digital signature solution for public online services – as swiftly as we would have liked.

A decisive precondition for reaching our target is that we manage to raise the standard of public ICT solutions. They must become easier and more user-friendly to apply. I see it as one of the most important challenges that must be prioritised by the authorities that own the self-service solutions. It means that it is one of the tasks that I prioritise in this house where the standard of borger.dk (the Danish citizen portal) quite simply needs to be raised so that the portal becomes a good and effective digital experience for Danes in their encounter with public authorities on the Net.

Processes of change as well as ICT are complex matters – and the next two years will probably present us with even more exacting demands than the two years that have passed. We will need the experience we have gained from developing, implementing and communicating, and we may expect that resistance to, for example, mandatory digitisation will become somewhat more pronounced once big changes like Digital Post becomes a matter of everyday life for citizens and companies.

Therefore, it is good to know that the digitisation strategy enjoys so much support among politicians in the Danish Parliament, local government politicians, civil servants, interest organisations and the staff who are in contact with citizens and companies on a day-to-day basis. Together, we will overcome the last difficult hurdles before reaching our target.

Lars Frelle-Petersen