Service redesign on an EU level?

7. June 2010 – 16:36 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

Vienna Airport: free wifi

Everyone is talking about citizen-led service redesign these days, the idea that social media can allow citizens to design services and thus help the public sector meet their needs better whilst reducing waste. IDEA (the UK’s Improvement and Development Agency) is following up the publication of Local by Social, a guide to using social media to solve local problems, by teaming up with FutureGov to host an event bringing together local government officials and social innovators.

Hopping on a plane for a day is not quite the same as taking the train to Bristol, which seemed to happen at the drop of a hat when PEP-NET member Delib organised an event to plan the future of Britain’s deliberative democracy. Would this or something similar work on an EU level, and what are the specific issues it would face?

Whilst local authorities deliver hundreds of services on a local level, the EU is more distant. The ratio of citizens to staff is much higher, which makes that contact more difficult. The ever-present language barrier is a problem, as it always is when co-operating with other EU countries. Finally, the distance that you would have to travel to have face-to-face meetings is a lot larger. And worst of all, you’d have to meet in a café rather than a pub!

But the first question you would have to answer would be “What to design?”. One candidate is the European Citizens’ Initiative (or an online version of it), which is a provision in the Lisbon Treaty stipulating that if 1 million European citizens sign a petition, it has to be considered by the Commission. echo source started the ball rolling on this blog by raising some questions that need answering.

Then there is the Commission itself. It has made a commitment to demonstrate eGovernment as part of the Digital Agenda, and started a blog asking how it should use social media in its communications. How do citizens want the Commission to implement eGovernment in the coming years?

Or how about something new? Say, mini-grants for communities that want to twin themselves with communities in other countries and run a hyperlocal blog with an international touch, and a bit of money for cultural exchanges? As ever, ideas aren’t in short supply but it’s a matter of finding the best ones and putting them into practice. So it all comes down to cracking some of those problems I mentioned above.

Whatever you think of the EU, the freedom of movement, single currency and cheap transport between member states, added to access to online tools — brilliant at allowing collaboration over long distances — means that there was never a time when citizen-led service redesign on an EU level was more possible!

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