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Created

February 6, 2010

Innovations in citizen interactions in the most unusual places

It’s Saturday so let’s start off with a relatively obvious place where we have seen tremendous innovation in user interactions, media players. Across static photos, music and videos, there have been great strides in creating intuitive experiences that engage users to search, play and comment.

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Take for example this BBC iPlayer. The BBC looked to this iPlayer to help them transform the world-wide on-demand TV space. It took BBC about 10 weeks to build the iPlayer and in its first 3 weeks of launch, there were 3.5m downloads. Currently, it accounts for 5 million views a day which is aobut 5% of the UK internet traffic.

These great participation rates are because from the start, the BBC considered the user central to how the rest of the system worked to deliver content to users. The iPlayer can be used by anyone across platforms and even if they are disconnected from the internet.

Okay, I probably haven’t told you anything you didn’t know already, except perhaps the tremendous adoption rate of the iPlayer. I was pretty impressed with when I heard the figures.

Any government agency would kill for these sorts of participation rates.


Imagine your agency makes a change to a policy, procedure, form, program and you could push it to 3.5M people instantly? What if you could also figure out based on past actions which of the 3.5M people the particular update would be relevant for? What if you had a way to interact with those citizens not only this timely, but scaled and you weren’t then flooded with phone calls into your call center?

Okay, now imagine this agency is a tax and revenue agency.

Now stop imagining because innovative agencies are acting on it and reaping the rewards from being innovative.

The Polish Ministry of Finance, in an effort to improve citizen interactions, led an e-Declarations project. At the core of the citizen interaction piece is a cross-platform, freely available client application which manages the electronic forms, pushes news alerts down and allows citizens to check the status of their filings.

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The first button gives a citizen access to the latest forms, the second button gives access to the accounts/filings/cases the citizen has pending, the third button provides information on legislation, the bottom bottom allows the user to set preferences.

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Clicking on the first button gives you access to the list of forms available. As questions are completed, the application will determine if other forms are needed. If you select the first form in the list which is the declaration of income PIT-36, the latest version of the form will be presented.

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The form is an Adobe PDF with key form fields pre-filled (eg. first name, last name, address) already with information based on my account. I have the options of printing, saving on my local drive or even submitting. If I try to submit at this point, it will validate the form and let me know I am missing required information and will now allow me to submit.

If a citizen wanted this type of support in your agency, what would be involved?

Now, if I want to check on the status of my applications, I select the second button and I am presented with all incomplete, pending and completed applications.

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No call to a call center was needed, no rifling through various websites looking for the status for different applications, it was all located in one place, the Polish e-Deklaracje desktop.

Need to get latest updates from the Ministry? Check out the news alerts section.

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Selecting any of the news alerts from this section will pull up the official PDF version of the document. This ensures that official information comes directly from the ministry so that citizens know they can trust it.

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Interested in checking out this application for yourself? You can download it from here.

Next time you are playing your favorite music on your MP3 or browsing through music and videos online. Think about the possibilities of transferring some of these great user interactions to the work that your agency needs to help citizens accomplish in the weeks, months and years to come.