How can your region or city be more user-centric? - A review on the Session on User-Centricity of the European Week of Regions and Cities

From 8-11. October 2018 the European Week of Regions and Cities took place in Brussels. It’s an annual event during which officials form regions and cities’ administrations, as well as experts and academics, can exchange good practices and know-how in the field of regional and urban development.


All levels of government play a role in making public administrations more user-centric, especially the national governments.
The 2017 Tallinn Declaration on eGovernment is the key reference in this respect. In this Declaration the Ministers commit to implement the 6 principles of the eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020, such as digital-by-default. Also, in the annex of the Declaration, Ministers commit to make the digital public services user-centric.


Best Practice Examples:

  • Campania region: This example emphasised that the principles of the Tallinn Declaration should be followed, that interoperability and inclusion of open data are key and  that eGovernment should be accompanied by a strong communication campaign.
  • Glasgow: We also heard a lot of good practices from cities across Europe! From a good practice in Glasgow we learnt that public processes have to be re-thought and co-designed with citizens. Also, it is important to give citizens power in decision-making through participatory budgeting. In Glasgow 10% of the budget is decided upon by citizens!
  • Rotterdam: From the city of Rotterdam we learnt that it is important to not only work towards user-centricity, but also towards human-centricity. In Rotterdam citizens were involved through the process of redesign. Rotterdam advised us talk to the citizens and to challenge assumptions in our organisations.
  • Brussels: In Brussels good governance started with open-by-default, making local government transparent and accessible. Brussels emphasised the key role of participatory budgeting. In Brussels citizens can propose ideas, which will then be implemented together with the city. Brussels recommended participants to invest in a strong communication campaign and to take a multi-channel approach in order to ensure inclusiveness.



Take-away message

The key to successful user-centric public services lays with rethinking the public services and co-creating the digital public services together with citizens. Participatory budgeting and a strong multi-channel communication campaign are also important. The European level helps through a strong legal framework and with support to develop and exchange the basic capabilities to facilitate the delivery of digital public services across borders.


Let’s go from user centric design to human centric design!         -Esmeralde Marsman (Rotterdam)