Did you know that almost three quarters (72.5 %) of EU-28 inhabitants lived in cities, towns and suburbs in 2014?
Given that over 60% of decisions taken at the European level have a direct impact on municipalities, provinces, and regions and 70% to 80% of public investments in Europe are made by local and regional authorities, they have a great importance for both our economy and the life of our citizens. Therefore, the Urban Agenda for the EU sets out to focus on better implementation of legislations, better funding and better knowledge to improve the quality of life in urban areas.
In the Digital Transition Partnership, amongst others, partners look into issues faced when developing local digital services or when using or storing personal data. The partnership focuses on the topics related to urban policies that can have a significant effect on transforming urban governance to fit the 21st century’s needs. It looks into policies, which affect citizens and businesses, such as for example health, social care services, eGovernment, urban planning and skills development. These areas of life concern every individual and the municipal level has very often clear responsibilities on these subjects. The creation of digital services to enhance the competitiveness of enterprises and improving the quality of life of people is at the core of the focus of the partnership.
The European Commission, Estonia and the cities of Oulu (FI) and Sofia (BG) and further partners (Member States, cities and stakeholders) will work together to develop an 'Urban Digital Transition' action plan.
Following the kick-off meeting in Oulu, in February 2017, the partnership has now published their Orientation Paper. Some interesting aspects of their plan includes looking into how to implement effectively the eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020 at the local government level as well as proposing new actions at cities / urban areas level to be included in the rolling EU eGovernment Action Plan. They also plan to propose eGovernment performance measurement framework (benchmarking) for urban authorities, with focus on key deliverables.
Not surprisingly, one of the horizontal themes to be addressed is data and standardisation. Indeed, beyond the implementation of eGovernment services, today citizens expect also open government; use of Open Data, API’s and data models that enable human-centric mobile and digital services. Public services are expected to be accessible and easy to use also on various mobile devices.
The Partnership has met again in Sofia, on 7-8 June 2017, where the different working groups have discussed the key topics identified. Work is progressing well; through identifying bottlenecks, existing and proposed actions. The draft actions will be discussed around mid-September 2017, while the draft Action Plan is due in January 2018.