Digital Services for Europe-toolkit

The digital transition and the delivery of digital services is high on the agenda. In fact, due to the societal impact of the COVID pandemic, the urgency regarding digital services has increased further in the past year.

A robust and agile digital infrastructure is of great importance, but there is more to it than that in order to realize the digital transition. Not just legal and technological, but also social and cultural. Digital leadership at all levels of government and all layers within the organization are crucial, and to demonstrate this it is essential to know where you stand and how you can build on what is already available. As such, the digital transition is primarily a change management task, and that requires an appropriate set of tools.

The importance of the digital transition and the ability to provide digital services is now widely recognized. The big challenge is answering the ‘how’ question. Digital Services for Europe aims to support in shaping a local municipal strategy and making the translation from strategic to tactical and operational levels.

Modular building blocks and online toolkit

We have already done a lot of work in the Netherlands and Europe in the interest of the digital transition, so knowledge and experience is available. To bring this together, the Digital Transition Partnership has worked on an overview of the most important building blocks for the digital transition. The results of the analysis carried out for this purpose have been incorporated into a descriptive document and an online toolkit that makes this knowledge and insight accessible to everyone. A modular structure was chosen for the content and dynamic design of the toolkit. As a result, the tools are not only useful now, but can continue to support municipalities along the way in preparing for new developments, such as future legislation and technology.

The aim of the tools is to help administrators and boards of directors come up with a concrete strategy and roadmap for the development of digital services and to be prepared for European legislation and frameworks.

The toolkit contains the following components and instruments:

  • Knowledge: a collection of building blocks with underlying elements and corresponding implementation steps, which together form an ecosystem for human-centered digital services, as components for a modular strategy and translation to tactical level;
  • Insight: a digital survey that allows municipalities to determine their current state of affairs for each of the elements, as a starting point for shaping their local strategy and for creating an overview at the (inter)national level;
  • Perspective for action: a roadmap tool that, on the basis of the survey and an ‘enabling-potential matrix’, calculates for which of the still missing or partly complete elements the municipality is best equipped to develop further, as part of a local roadmap.
  • Kickstart (not yet part of the PoC): references to available instruments and good examples, which can be used to make a faster start with the further development of own building blocks and underlying elements.

A full description of the background and design of the toolkit can be found in the main document (see below).

Tool for strategy formation, policy development and realization

Using the tools in the toolkit, it is possible for municipalities, within the Netherlands and Europe, to each work from their own starting point on their own ecosystem for digital services. Because the modular building blocks focus on substantive coherence and cooperation between the various levels of government, it is still possible to work on a ‘joint’ digital transition at your own pace and in your own order.

The set of tools within the toolkit can help to create the context for innovation, by not just looking at the technology, but helping to steer towards the whole picture. For example, it provides tools for digital leadership, awareness, system incentives, legislation, principles, etc. This broad approach requires a multidisciplinary approach with various (internal) stakeholders, with which use of the tool supports the change management process for the digital transition.

At the (inter)national level, it is also possible to gain insight into which elements are still poorly developed and/or high on the list of priorities, so that cooperation and support (such as expertise, funding, etc.) can be organized in a targeted manner. The Digital Services for Europe toolkit is thus potentially not only a tool for strategy formation and translation towards implementation, but also for policy formulation and lobbying activities.

or example, the toolkit can be used methodically to support the implementation of European laws and regulations. For example, by making an inventory of the elements needed for implementation in the local ecosystem and matching this with the results of the digital survey, so that the readiness for implementation can be assessed. Conversely, during the draft phase of such laws and regulations, signals could already be sent to the European Commission regarding the expected feasibility based on the state of affairs of municipalities. For this purpose it is of course important that the instrument is kept up-to-date with current developments.

Also in case of ‘passive’ use, i.e. without completing the survey and generating the roadmap, the toolkit can have an added value. The knowledge and experience gathered in the building blocks and underlying elements can be consulted, for example, to validate an already existing own digitization strategy, or to find implementation steps and references to good-practices and useful facilities.

Want to know more?

The Proof-of-Concept phase has been completed following validation with a number of European municipalities. Opportunities for wider deployment in the future are being mapped with interested parties. For more information and interest, please contact us via the Contact page.

On Living-in.EU you will find the extensive document with background information and substantive explanation of the building blocks within the toolkit: