Wednesday, 11 April 2007

E-Gov: a practical case of ICT application

In my previous post, I said that I would write about ICTs. Well, now I share with you an article that I wrote about e-government. This kind of systems use ICT to provide citizens several services. One of the most important problems of a government is bureaucracy. How much time do you waste waiting in public offices? Do you always find an easy and simply way to solve your problem? If the answers to these questions are “no”, e-gov may be the solution that you are looking for. So, let’s start with the definition of e-gov. E-gov is the acronym of electronic government, and it’s the use by the different government levels of systems based on information and communication technologies, to make the relations between the government and the people better, and increase citizens’ life quality . There are four types of relation in E-gov:
G2C: Government to Citizens
G2B: Government to businesses, in relation to the private sector
G2E: Government to Employees, in relation to government employees
And finally, G2G: Government to Government, in relation two or more government offices.
At this moment, you are probably asking yourself what the goals to develop this kind of systems are. Well, e-gov has three clear objectives. First, efficiency. Have you ever been, for example, in the ANSES office? They don’t know this word. You’ll probably spend all the morning and go back home without a solution. E-gov tries to provide better public services, with better public employees, and minor costs to the government. The second objective of e-gov is transparency. People don’t trust in our government, and these systems are a way to make proceedings clear and transparent. Third and last, the purpose is participation, because with e-gov, it is easier to access public governmental services, and so it is a way for citizens to be more involved in citizen life. This can be implemented by telephonic surveys, public computers to access on-line services, e.g. see your taxes and pays, on line forums about public topics, electronic vote, etc.
Do you know the meaning of “unique window”? You know that the inefficient bureaucratic services obligate citizens to do their proceedings in the different public offices, but with this model, citizens shouldn’t know the internal circuit because it’s transparent for them, and they interact with only one employee, in equal ways through different channels, such us a physical window, telephone or the Internet.To start with an e-gov project it is extremely important to have politic support and their commitment to the cause. Another necessary aspect is to consider access strategies to solve the people difficult to access the equipment and the knowledge required to operate it, named digital breach. Last but not least, it is essential to make a good planning to have the different resources available in all the phases of the project.
Nowadays, there are a big amount of success experiences of e-gov. The first country to implement this solution was Finland. Finland has several economics problems before the collapse the USSR, because it was its most important client. But they renewed their strategies, and invested on technology. They have the most important mobile telephone companies, like Nokia. What did they do? They created an specific branch named Tekes, which has the responsibility to organize and promote industry and technology. And it was Tekes which planned all the e-gov project. Finns can do all their proceedings through the Internet, and home banking is as usual as traditional banking in Argentina. Also, they have the project of the first virtual city, called Arabianranta. All the service will be on line and the people will be “connected”, since the on-line proceeding to have sensors in your floors to know if you fell down. This will be a wireless solution, and e-gov is the key. In our country, we don’t have a central portal of e-gov, but some offices have their page on the Internet, and you can do some proceedings, like obtain your CUIL on-line, know your Rentas debt, or present sworn declarations. One very useful service is the on-line searcher to know where you must vote during the elections, provided by the Judicial Power. And Mar del plata also has its portal,, in which you can ask about places, proceedings, taxes, etc.