Citizen Spots

The Internet is a great communication tool. People use it all the time both at work and for leisure, but what about interacting with the government? Even though most of the Portuguese public services are digital, its use was below expectations. The answer was the creation of a network of Citizen Spots, which are multiservice physical counters where a “specialized mediator” assists citizens accessing online public services and teaches them how to perform them autonomously thereafter.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

The Internet is a great communication tool. People use it all the time both at work and for leisure, but what about interacting with the government? Currently, most of the Portuguese public services are either provided fully automatically or available online. Nevertheless, the use of digital services was below expectations and, as such, it was necessary to reverse the situation, so that the benefits of a digital approach to public service delivery could truly be felt by all the citizens.

The answer was the creation of a network of Citizen Spots, which are multiservice physical counters where a person - a “specialized mediator” - assists citizens accessing online public services and teaches them how to perform them autonomously thereafter. The digital services provided are essentially those already available on various online platforms and the national digital portal - ePortugal.gov.pt - but that citizens may not feel confident using by themselves.

The nationwide network of Citizen Spots was initiated in 2014, in a context of scarce digital literacy, lack of trust in digital public services delivery and insufficient infrastructures/internet bandwidth throughout the national territory - constraints that affected mainly the neediest, namely the elderly and those living in rural areas, thus restraining their ability to fully enjoy the benefits of public digital services.

In the Spots, through the skilled assistance of a mediator, citizens can follow and learn the steps they have to undertake to access different public online services. All the existing Spots are equipped with a computer with a double screen system. One screen is used by the mediator and the other one is for the citizen to be able to see and follow all the steps being done. This allows citizens to trust, learn and replicate the exploration of new digital functionalities and services on their own, thus promoting digital literacy and bridging the digital divide.

By showing the population that the Citizen Spots are reliable spaces where they can go and use the available digital services with the help of a trustworthy mediator, citizens are becoming more aware of the national digital public services portfolio and also of online security measures, specifically regarding online privacy which is fundamental to boost the confidence in the use of ICTs in general, which is also one of the goals of the initiative.

At the moment there are 604 of these Spots spread nationwide and even abroad, each one of them delivering 234 public services, from 17 different entities. They’re located in the Portuguese largest cities, as well as in the most remote areas of the country, but also Brussels, London, Paris, and São Paulo.

The vast network of the Citizen Spots has been enlarged in the last years, but its concept has also been evolving. Alongside the traditional Citizen Spots, now there’s also the Mobile Citizen Spot (MCS) and the Solidarity Citizen Spot (SCS).

The MCS is a Spot assembled on a van that travels to remote areas taking the initiative to the most inhospitable places. It’s about getting the initiative to those living in areas without access to digital services. Whether because they live in more remote areas of the country, or because they were affected by some kind of emergency, like the ones resulted from the fires that usually affect Portugal in the Summer. In 2017, in Pedrogão, or in 2018, in the Monchique region, for instance, immediately after the fires that made victims and burned forests, houses and communication infrastructures, the MCS was vital on the field, helping the affected citizens to ask on-site for new papers and documents and teaching them to fill all the necessary forms that could be done online.

In its turn, the SCS is mainly oriented to the elderly. It’s nothing more than a mobile kit, constituted by a computer and a printer, operated by a mediator who visits nursing homes and residential structures for the elderly.

Both the MCS and SCS are meant to engage and empower groups that are usually neglected when talking about Information and Communications Technology (ICTs). With the Citizen Spots, Portugal is fighting digital exclusion. The spots intend to get the population more engaged in the use of digital services and also more aware of its benefits, which in turn reflects a greater trust in the State, as the provider of those services.

Besides, even though the Administrative Modernization Agency (AMA) is the central authority coordinating the project, local authorities have the responsibility of managing most of the Spots, reinforcing a collaboration dynamic between central and local authorities. And since the services provided are the responsibility of 17 different entities (Tax, Social Security, Registries, etc.), the initiative also has a significant role in breaking silos between these different authorities.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

Innovation Reflections

Project Pitch

CERCA DE 400 ESPAÇOS DO CIDADÃO E QUASE UM MILHÃO DE ATENDIMENTOSA Agência para a Modernização Administrativa, I.P., no âmbito de parcerias com diversas Comunidades Intermunicipais, Municípios e outros organismos, disponibiliza a todos os cidadãos uma rede de atendimento, complementar às Lojas do Cidadão, de 375 Espaços do Cidadão já em funcionamento e praticamente um milhão de atendimentos realizados.Estes espaços estão dispersos por todo o território nacional, em Câmaras Municipais, Juntas de Freguesia, balcões do Alto Comissariado para as Migrações e postos dos CTT. Esta rede de atendimento conta com cerca de 200 serviços públicos disponíveis num único espaço, mais perto de si. Nestes espaços os cidadãos podem tratar da renovação da carta de condução, marcar consultas médicas, pedir certidões, tratar de assuntos relacionados com o Emprego e Formação Profissional, a ADSE, a Autoridade para as Condições de Trabalho e a Caixa Geral de Aposentações.Veja o filme e conheça os Espaços do Cidadão no Portal do Cidadão e na app do Mapa do Cidadão.

Posted by AMA - Agência para a Modernização Administrativa, IP on Friday, 11 December 2015

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