The new eGovernment Benchmark 2016: A Turning Point For eGovernment in Europe? was published this week. Although many countries show progress toward the goals, the transformation is not happening as quickly as expected. Public services are increasingly accessible, with 81% available online. However, one area that disappoints is user-centricity. While business-related services have improved significantly, citizen-related services lag particularly in ease and speed of use. Results, however, differ by geography as delineated by a “digital diagonal” running from south-west to north-east. Those countries running diagonally through the middle of Europe seem to be digitizing more effectively. (See the figure to the right). Not all countries are transforming at the same pace – and not surprisingly.
I’ve been thinking a lot about “e-government” and “digital government” these days, and one thing bugs me: the push for online services. Yes, I like the convenience of being able to get things done online: renewing driver’s licenses, requesting permits, paying fines. But I also recognize that there are some things that might be better done in person. Yet not everyone has easy access to a government office. My own regional administration is over an hour away by car, and I certainly don’t want to have to go there to get things done. Therein lays a tension that isn’t necessarily solved by “digital services” but that can be addressed by “digital government.”
My sister used to tell me that I wasn’t smart I was just organized. I’m not here to argue (anymore) but I have never forgotten her claim. In fact, it’s true for more than just me. It’s really what is at the heart of smart cities. It’s not about what you know but what you can do with it. The industry has been pushing “smart” on cities for a half a decade. But the most successful stories about cities cutting their cost of operations and improving the lives of their citizens are about being better organized or more efficient.
At the Schneider Electric Influencer Summit in Boston this week, Schneider execs and customers focused their smart city story on just that – getting more efficient. We all have heard the numbers: cities take up only 2% of the world’s surface but they consume 75% of the world’s energy and account for 80% of the world’s carbon emissions. As the Schneider CMO cited, “If left unchecked, our appetite for energy will grow 50% by 2040.” And there is significant room for greater efficiency. The sweet spot for Schneider in this Next Age of Change is in helping cities control their public energy consumption. While their vision – and “marketecture stack” – extends into water and other domains, they plan to establish their footprint with energy efficiency. Phew! That’s a refreshing change from vendors who want to do it all.