Responsible digitalisation challenge: How to make digital systems more human-centric?

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Technological and innovative developments are moving faster than ever before. As a government, you want and need to keep up with these developments. At the same time, the use of digitalisation and data often leads to undesired results, increasing the distance between citizens/entrepreneurs and the government.

The municipality of Haarlemmermeer is shifting her focus from 'the system is central, people have to become more digitally savvy to 'people are central, our systems have to become human-centric’. The underlying question is: how do you really put people at the centre of digitalisation and the design of digital systems?

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Project’s current phase

Jeroen Brink and Christine Groothuis from the municipality of Haarlemmermeer introduced this challenge to the Amsterdam Smart City network on the 7th of November, 2022. During a co-creation session, we discussed that there are two main elements of this complex challenge that we would like to focus on. On the one hand, we’re talking about a radical and fundamental shift. A different way of thinking within governmental institutions. This shift requires a more philosophical and substantive conversation about how we would like our digital public space and systems to look like. But on the other hand, we want to think big but also start small. Therefore, the municipality of Haarlemmermeer would like to embrace a real-life case to bring human-centred digital systems to life.

On the 1st of December, we organised a follow-up session with Amsterdam Smart City partners. During this session, Max Kortlander (Waag) presented the Public Stack. This project puts the public value at the centre to create open, democratic and sustainable digital public spaces. Following this introduction, we did a futures-thinking exercise led by Sacha van Tongeren (Kennisland), to think about how we want the digital public space to look like in the future. And additionally, we used empathy maps to synthesize our collective knowledge about our audience, which brought us closer to a common understanding of who they are.

What is the goal of the project?

The municipality of Haarlemmermeer noticed that more an more citizens and business struggle to reach the municipality. The goal of this project is to take the complexity out of digital government systems and really put people at centre of designing digital systems.

What is the result of the project?

The municipality of Haarlemmermeer wants to organise digital government services in a way that makes then accessible and understandable for all.

Who initiated the project and which organizations are involved?

The challenge is initiated by the municipality of Haarlemmermeer. From the Amsterdam Smart City network, other partners like Kennisland, the University of Applied Sciences, Deloitte and Waag showed commitment to collaborate. Other governmental actors like the municipality of Amsterdam, the municipality of Almere and the province of North Holland were also involved in the work sessions.

What is the next step?

From February till June 2023, the municipality of Haarlemmermeer will work with the Digital Society School (part of the University of Applied Science). A group of trainees with an international and multidisciplinary background, will offer their full attention and expertise in design and tech to lend fresh perspectives on the challenge. The results will shared with the Amsterdam Smart City network and on the platform.