Empowering a digitally-friendly audience? Go mobile!

Can digital transformation pave the path to improved citizen engagement and an enhanced democratic participation at the local level? Our survey suggests that the answer is a resounding “yes”, but it also demonstrates low satisfaction with some local government services.

The lower level of satisfaction in specific areas point to priorities for digital delivery models, provided these are well-designed and reflect the needs and preferences of the citizen groups who use them. This is particularly true for services used by the low-educated and the least privileged social strata.

On a positive note, there is a growing willingness from all citizen groups to embrace the new age of digital. Age, education, ethnicity and income might limit this, but they do not prohibit digital adoption.

Our survey found that citizens are ready to familiarise themselves with And adopt digital applications (e.g. mobile apps) for services and for interactions, as long as these new applications are inclusive, sufficiently customised, user-friendly and have a relevancy and a positive impact on their lives.

76% would use a mobile app (including polls and short commenting functions) to express opinion on a council-related issue.
57% to generally interact with the council.
72% to report an issue/problem.
57% to pay for bills/services.

BUT: low income and poorly educated citizens are less receptive to digital applications

Therefore, a big window of opportunity exists for policy makers in local councils to embrace digital innovation, with examples set in other European states. This is not only an opportunity in redefining services for citizens to use directly, but also in the internal methods for their management and oversight. This includes providing performance dashboards, effective service design tools and digital governance methods necessary for councils to be as efficient, effective and citizen-focused as possible.

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