Public services go to the streets: the Citizenship module
This case was submitted as part of the Call for Innovations, an annual partnership initiative between OPSI and the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation (MBRCGI)
TOMI is a network of interactive street kiosks that allow every citizen to freely use public services on-the-go, in a simple, fast and convenient way, while performing their daily routines on the city streets.
By using TOMI, people can search for a specific public entity/service, choose the one that’s closer to their current location and take a virtual queue ticket to a given public service, with the possibility to require an SMS alert when their queue number is approaching.
TOMI is a user-friendly network of interactive street kiosks that offer a unique way to promote multiple activities and points of interest, such as public services, tourism, culture and local commerce. This solution allows citizens to save time, energy and money, by providing a myriad of information in a simple, accessible and free way. TOMI operates like a community/proximity service that gives everyone the same opportunities to access public services while walking on the streets, thus promoting both social and digital inclusion.
TOMI has five main modules (besides a “photo and GIF” feature, that adds a fun factor with the possibility to take giant selfies/GIFS):
- News (with curated urban local information);
- Events (aggregate everything that’s happening in the city, by categories);
- Search (helps to explore every corner of the city, listing places to eat, nearby points of interest or where to sleep);
- Transports (promotes mobility, allowing users to search for the routes for any destination);
- and the more recent Citizenship module, which represents the core of this application and was just launched in June 2018, endowing TOMI’s network with a brand new public services’ feature.
The main objective of the Citizenship module, which embodies a partnership between TOMI and the Administrative Modernization Agency (AMA) – the Portuguese public body responsible for administrative modernization and simplification and for the digital transformation of the Public Administration – is to bring public services closer to all people, taking advantage of TOMI’s network to provide a location for e-services and public services search.
In this way, it’s possible to strengthen ties between people, cities and the State, by making public services more accessible and easier to use.
The Citizenship module further concurs to enable multidimensional smarter cities, by providing georeferenced information about all the public services available and the possibility to get virtual queue tickets for these services, informing the number of people waiting and the average time of service in each public entity.
Users can select the public service of their choice and the public entity that is more convenient to them (based on location and/or queue lines), receiving the virtual queue ticket by SMS and also SMS alerts when there are 3 tickets left for their turn. Services include requesting and renewing the Citizen Card and Passport, obtaining Civil Registry certificates (birth, marriage, death) or scheduling an attendance at the Tax Authority or Social Security Services, to name just a few. The citizen can also take virtual queue tickets for services of public interest provided in the Portuguese network of Citizen Shops (one-stop-shops), namely by water, energy and telecom utilities. As such, users can wait for their turn anywhere they want and just go to the public entity when their turn is close.
This feature allows public entities to better organize queue lines and to reduce the waiting time in their physical offices, thus contributing to a better citizen experience and to improve the overall level of service.
Another standout feature is the possibility to use TOMI’s network to foster an effective citizen engagement, either by launching important alerts (such as a street being closed for works), by gathering citizens' opinions on matters of public interest, by providing relevant information or simply by collecting citizens’ feedback.
Furthermore, the Citizenship module ensures that everyone can interact and access public services, even people who don’t normally have access to technology. By providing useful and accessible information to all, regardless of gender, ethnicity or age, TOMI’s network promotes inclusion and equity and contributes to more informed, educated and participatory citizens.
Taking public services to the streets with TOMI is a strategy devised to make cities smarter, more tangible and with added value to the citizens.
TOMI Citizenship module is already installed in its Portuguese network, and is registering great feedback from users and coverage from the media.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
The Citizenship module stands out as a unique project in an outdoor environment, being a forward-thinking way of helping citizens.
This partnership between AMA and TOMI brings a new dynamic to the digital transformation of cities and it’s the step up that cities need to promote more connected and accessible public services to their citizens.
The possibility to take a virtual ticket in any TOMI of Portugal and choose the onsite public entity based on queue lines and proximity, beforehand, significantly decreases the waiting times and helps citizens to access public services in an easier way. This disruptive and unique service worldwide will definitely contribute to the advance of smart cities.
TOMI also fosters mobility in public services by showing routes to intended public entities through public transportation or by foot, as well as ETAs & costs.
Finally, this solution is friendly to people with disabilities, readjusting accordingly (e.g. adapting screens for people on wheelchairs).
What is the current status of your innovation?
At the current stage of implementation, the Citizenship Module is available in about 100 Portuguese cities. These include the main cities of Lisbon and Porto, and also a variety of cities in the North region (e.g. Porto, Guimarães, etc.), in the Algarve region (e.g. Albufeira, Faro, etc.), in the Centre region (e.g. Figueira da Foz, Viseu, etc) and in the Azores archipelago.
TOMI is continuously expanding its network in Portugal, and is currently planning to implement the Citizenship module in new cities.
This new feature is operating since June 2018 and has achieved very positive results, generating remarkable feedback from the users and high media coverage.
At a later stage, several digital services will also be made available in TOMI Kiosks.
The project is currently moving towards the evaluation phase, and TOMI will continue to implement this service in new cities, and simultaneously collect feedback and improve accordingly.
Collaborations & Partnerships
This project was a collaboration between the company TOMI WORLD and the Administrative Modernization Agency – AMA, which is the Portuguese public body responsible for the digital transformation of the Public Administration.
AMA provided key data about public services and TOMI WORLD made all of these services and information available on its network. This way it was possible to integrate AMA’s data right in the streets, through interactive urban devices.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The citizens have new ways of becoming informed and actively participate, which ensures easier access to public services and improves their engagement with the city.
For the tourists, is now possible to more easily find needed public services, in their own language.
Cities can now provide an easy-to-use, accessible to all platform, that is a unique tool for the public sector to interact with the citizens, and a great way to upgrade access to all public services.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
We expect to reduce the waiting/queue times in the public entities, improving levels of service while helping the citizens to better manage their daily tasks and be more productive.
These results will be measured in the medium term, by crossing AMA’s data regarding citizens’ user experience with TOMI’s statistics (e.g., number of interactions, number of tickets taken and number of queues consulted).
One example is Lisbon’s case study. Lisbon is the most populated Portuguese city and where the waiting times are usually the highest. At the beginning of this service, in June 2018, we registered dozens of virtual tickets being used daily and queue lines being consulted. Just two months later, in August 2018, the public services feature was the second most used category in the Search module.
We also expect to increase our interactions with this service. Right now, TOMI registers on average 3 million interactions per month.
Challenges and Failures
Making public services available in TOMI’s network is an ongoing challenge, since it involves the implementation of a platform that allows searching for thousands of public entities and services in a simple, accessible and user-friendly way. As such, a major effort was required to seamlessly integrate AMA’s services and contents with TOMI’s own design, user-interface and contents, in order to provide the best possible user-experience to all end-users.
To overcome these challenges, several pilots were carried out with real users, which allowed for continuous improvement until reaching an impeccable usability status of the Citizenship module.
All these challenges really defined the direction of this project, as they simultaneously represented a perfect opportunity to develop an entirely innovative service.
Conditions for Success
The main condition for the success of this project is meeting citizens' expectations on different levels. As such, the Citizenship module needs to be continuously updated to guarantee a positive and improved user-experience, which implies a good combination of several resources (human, financial, technological) dedicated to this innovative project.
Also, this kind of innovation benefits from providing a completely free service to the community, in line with the public services’ dynamic in the cities, while being useful for the people who interact with it.
Finally, it’s essential to communicate the project in an integrated way, involving all stakeholders – private, central government and local government – to guarantee a bridge between the cities and the citizenry.
All cities provide public services to their citizens, usually issuing tickets to manage the waiting queues. The successful partnership between AMA and TOMI for the development of the Citizenship module shows that it’s possible to implement new ways of delivering public services, while contributing to the digital transformation of cities.
In our point of view, the potential for replicating this proposal in any city is very high, since TOMI is a platform that is continuously improving, adapting to its environment and to its users’ needs. In Portugal, this service will continue to be replicated in every new city where TOMI arrives.
AMA and TOMI are working on some new features for the Citizenship module, in order to strengthen citizens’ engagement and to provide new ways to add quality of life in the cities.
Taking public services to the next level is a great journey, and the best advice we can give to other people when trying to improve the quality of life for citizens is to always think about the citizen first and to continuously develop and co-create any particular solution from there.
This citizen-centered and participatory approach is the basis of every new digital transformation solution developed and sustained by the AMA, and the Citizenship module was no exception to this rule.
Likewise, TOMI relies on the analysis of its daily user-metrics system for a better understanding of users’ needs and to comprehend how to improve TOMI on a daily basis and how to give smarter recommendations.
Also, when developing an innovation in the public sector, it’s important to realize that you’re trying to extend the connectivity between everything that is already happening in a given place. In fact, promoting citizen’s engagement is all about trying to bring innovations and solutions together to create a more dynamic city; therefore, it is essential to assess the possibilities to create synergies with other solutions that are already taking place in that municipality.
The best innovation in the public sector is the one that gives people the tools to engage with the city itself, improving the quality of life and promoting more informed, educated and participatory citizens. To make this possible, it’s essential to know each individual municipality’s context and society’s needs, their daily life challenges, and what matters to them and being able to present a great device which they’re willing to interact with.