From London to Stockholm, from Porto, Portugal, to Aalter, Belgium, governments of all sizes are communicating with citizens in a variety of new and innovative ways. Even with the diverse needs of these cities, many of their government agencies deliver a common set of services to citizens. A culmination of Microsoft’s partnerships, programs and projects conducted with governments over several years, the CSP has been developed to answer the needs seen across diverse government offices and help deliver the best of these services across different regions worldwide. Initial offerings include a suite of online services that will be available for customization and integration into existing government solutions for their citizens later this year.
Governments need to respond to the growing needs of their constituencies and modernize the way they conduct business and engage with their stakeholders, said Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International.
“Technology can help local and regional governments increase efficiency levels and offer modernized services, but many are ill-equipped to meet citizens’ needs due to a lack of funding, technical expertise or other resources,” Courtois said. “CSP arose from a series of projects among Microsoft, our partners, and local and regional governments. By incorporating past lessons and achievements, we will be able to provide these governments with technologies they can cost-effectively and easily deploy for the direct benefit of their citizens.”
CSP is Microsoft’s strategy to support governments as they develop sustainable, flexible and extendable IT infrastructures with citizen service in mind. A recent report conducted by Capgemini, on behalf of Microsoft, found that although 80 percent of services to the public happen at the local level, the governments responsible for delivering those services have found it difficult to keep up with effectively increasing the efficiency with which they respond to citizen needs. The goal of the CSP is to close that gap through rapid solution development, customizable applications and the industry knowledge to keep pace with the sophisticated expectations of citizens in a technology-driven world.
Graham Colclough, global vice president of Cities & Regions for Capgemini, said that solutions such as CSP can play a central role in helping governments as they transform services. “There is clear evidence of, and need for, root and branch public service reform — citizens are demanding this so tax revenues must be stretched further. Public service providers must lead change by building a bridge of trust with their communities — and they are already starting that process,” Colclough said. “Technology that is flexible, affordable and scalable can go a long way toward minimizing costs and ensuring that more of the resources make it through the pipeline to the people who need it the most.”
Microsoft has engaged partners to develop applications that sit on existing technology platforms used by local and regional governments. Features such as citizen portals, case management, intelligent forms, community Web sites and document management emerged as strong priorities for governments to focus their IT spending on, according to research conducted by Capgemini.
Examples of existing field solutions that will now be housed under CSP include the following:
Impacting more than productivity. The Porto City Council, the second largest in Portugal, needed an efficient solution to internally manage city council meetings, which generate hundreds of thousands of pages of documents each year. The Executive Portal project, which will be an element of CSP offerings based on Microsoft SharePoint Portal 2007 technology, computerized meeting documentation and streamlined the entire preparation process. The result was simplified meeting logistics and bureaucracy, a better integrated document management system, reduced paper use by the equivalent of 300 reams of paper or 11 trees a year, and also allows for future scalability.
Providing a framework for medium-sized governments. Another element of the CSP will be tools that allow small and medium-sized governments to create and manage their own online services and content designed around Microsoft Office SharePoint Server. In the municipality of Aalter, Belgium, the former Digital Town Hall offering — planned to be integrated into CSP — is operating with great success. The municipality is enacting a set of online services that deliver content to citizens, tourists and political interest groups as well as providing productivity tools for case management. Aalter’s offering has also been shared and used by four other governments across Europe, and has been translated into French, German and Italian.
Deploying a citizen alert system. To allow small agencies to deliver basic services via SMS messaging without the need for on-site information and communication technology (ICT) hardware, Microsoft worked with partners to develop an alert system for storm warnings. The town of St. Mary, Jamaica, deployed it in 2007 as a mechanism to help warn citizens of storms and hurricanes, a common hazard in the late summer season. The solution was developed for Microsoft by Spanish partner Spenta Consulting, and uses Microsoft Office Live and the Virtual Earth platform. The solution was built in less than eight weeks using Web services in response to a request from local government leaders who challenged the ICT industry to do more to help small governments keep pace with technology developments.
Enabling a single view of the citizen. Many government agencies that are modernizing often start with the need for a single view of the citizen, or single citizen record, to provide a comprehensive view of community needs. The CSP will include templates built around Microsoft Dynamics CRM to ensure a consistent view of the citizen’s information, whether accessed over the Internet, by telephone or at the town hall.
More information on CSP can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/industry/publicsector/government/csp.mspx.
Microsoft Contributes to EU Services Directive
Microsoft today also announced a partnership with the DStGB (German Association of Towns and Municipalities) and the Fraunhofer-Institute FOKUS to develop and distribute a documented prototype solution needed to implement the EU Services Directive. The Project ServiceLine 115 program is equivalent to the 311 number in New York — one consistent service hot line for all citizens. The technical offering from the partnership will also include a spatial data system of municipal geographies, an electronic trade register, an online system of business registration and a set of Internet portals. Governments, organizations and agencies can both contribute and take existing knowledge and solution sets from a Solution Sharing Network (SSN) portal as needed.
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