Welcome to the fifth Newsletter of the BETTER project! BETTER is an Interreg Europe project that focuses on the promotion of e-Government solutions. With our project we aim to create a win-win situation for everyone by enhancing the use of e-Government solutions. Using these instruments local and regional authorities can stimulate regional innovation while private individuals and businesses gain better public service. In the following pages we would like to give you a short overview of our initiative. You will find information on the BETTER partnership, objectives and methods, and the steps we will make to reach our objectives.
The BETTER Newsletter is published in every semester through a 3-year period. With these materials we will keep you updated on the progress achieved as well as elaborate on plans for the next period of the project.
Please visit our website to get our latest news! You can also find us on social media, where we welcome your questions and comments. We hope you enjoy reading our newsletter!
The BETTER project team!
IN A NUTSHELL BETTER supports public authorities to develop their regional innovation strategies and improve them with e-government services to stimulate regional innovation chain.
BETTER offers an innovative approach to a crucial priority for the EU: encouraging Public Authorities to develop Regional Innovation Strategies in which e-Government solutions can stimulate Regional Innovation chains, as well as improving their services.
The main problem addressed by this project is the need to support Public Authorities in the development of innovation infrastructures and be the drivers of smart specialization strategies; Insufficient public sector investment in innovation activity poor adaptation to specific needs, particularly in less developed countries has contributed to the 'technology gap' between EU regions and tends to perpetuate or increase the 'cohesion gap'.
Information Communications Technologies (ICT) are crucial in ensuring that citizens have easy access to local government information, services and decision-making processes as well as in helping and improving citizens’ participation and consultation of towards local governments. However, the level of innovation among EU regions is not measured only by ICT tools but by the general strategies that regions put in place in order to support and enhance innovative local dynamics and improve the performance of their regional innovation systems.
The EU regions show a wide diversity in regional innovation systems. The implication of this diversity is that there is no one-size-fits-all policy that can be applied to any region.
Rather, policies need to be adjusted to specificities of the industry, innovation culture, political system, and the level of autonomy held by regional authorities.
The partnership includes 5 partners from 5 Member States covering a balanced geographical spread from North (SE&EE) to West (UK), South (IT) and East (HU).
The partners are all Public Authorities selected for their specific abilities related to the project topic. Genoa and Birmingham are already working on digital tools in the IE “Pure Cosmos” project and want to strengthen their competence in regional innovation strategies; Tartu, Gävle and Nyíregyháza have specific skills in Digital Transformation and RIS strategies.
WHAT WE ARE GOING TO DO
BETTER will link e-Government with the “innovation chain” to create a win-win initiative. On the one hand, municipalities and regions need to improve public services, while cutting costs: e-Government is one way to do this. On the other hand, adopting e-Government solutions could be used in turn to stimulate the local or regional innovation chain: for example the design, supply and maintenance of specialist services, such as Artificial Intelligence.
The consortium will:
- analyse partners’ plans through four Thematic Events;
- identify good practices that will improve these plans, studying them through Study Visits, importing them via special workshops and Regional Action Plans;
- build the capacity of all relevant public authorities including ERDF Managing Authorities;
- increase the societal impact of the innovation process outcomes.
With BETTER - as an overall objective - we aim to: strengthen the role of Public Authorities as stimulators of regional innovation chains by improving e-Government solutions by 10% by 2022. This goal will be focused along with the sub-objectives as follows:
1) develop by 2022 at least 3 innovative instruments (e.g. digital platforms, Artificial Intelligence) that will improve municipal services
2) increase by 10% by 2022 the societal impact of the innovation process outcomes thanks to the development of new e-Government services.
3) increase by 20% by 2022 the effectiveness of key decision makers’ involvement in Regional Innovation chains and related investments in order to meet their innovation objectives
4) increase by 20% by 2022 the horizontal and vertical cooperation between the different levels of government and relevant actors (including investors) in the development and implementation of the RAPs
Sub objectives 1 and 2 are related to the progress that the partners can make in the field of research and innovation infrastructures. Here ICT systems play a strategic role in ensuring that citizens have easy access to local government information, services and decision-making processes. They are the focus of Public Authorities. They will improve the level and the quality of Public Authorities services in the partners areas.
Sub objectives 3 and 4 are specifically related to the Involvement of stakeholders and Managing Authorities in the decision making. BETTER will not only actively empower the Regional Stakeholders to offer concrete improvements to the policy instruments via the RAPs, but will also empower them through building their capacity – both the key decision makers and the organisations themselves – for continuing effective action after the project-end, applying to R&I programmes and Smart approach.
BETTER brings together 5 partners from 5 countries, offering an innovative approach to a crucial priority for the EU: encouraging Public Authorities to develop Regional Innovation Strategies in which e-Government solutions can stimulate Regional Innovation chains (as well as improving their services).
To reach this aim and - more specifically - the abovementioned objectives, the project includes a wide range of activities. such as:
Stage 1.- ASSESS NEEDS, ASSEMBLE GOOD PRACTICES by
THEMATIC EVENTS that involve staff and Regional Stakeholders, focusing on: Physical and virtual infrastructure/assets to support the process for innovation; Development and application of new innovative products and services; Processes to support new business models and ways of working across private public sector and with citizens; People and skills to make it happen
a REGISTER OF GOOD PRACTICES to collect and document the good practices that are relevant to partners’ needs.
BETTER RIS Matrix as a management tool to ensure that Project Partners’ learning needs are met, and to provide a guide on good practices to enable policy makers to decide upon investment priorities.
Stage 2.- OBSERVE GOOD PRACTICES by
10 in-depth STUDY VISITS using the register of good practices. The good practices will be selected by the partners for their relevance to the identified specifications.
Stage 3.- ADOPT GOOD PRACTICES by
’IMPORT WORKSHOPS’. Experts from other partners will assist the importing partner and regional stakeholders to import their good practices and draft their Regional Action Plan.
Stage 4.- IMPROVE POLICIES by
policy owners using the Regional Action Plan (RAP) to “improve its policy instrument”, with continued support from project-partners.
Stage 5.- MONITOR POLICY IMPROVEMENTS by
partners monitoring the adoption and implementation of their RAP
a European-level conference to disseminate experiences. Partners will undertake an impact survey #2 to measure impact to 2022.
Municipality of Genoa (IT)
Tartu City Government (EE)
Birmingham City Council (UK)
Gävle Municipality (SE)
Municipality of Nyíregyháza (HU)
Phase 1 - Interregional Learning (3 years, semester 1-6) August 2019 - July 2022
Phase one will include activities to help each partner develop a regional action plan to improve European Regional Development Fund policy instruments.
thematic events for interregional learning
an import workshop where the good practice is transferred from one region to another
a regional event
6 stakeholder meetings
Phase 2 - Monitoring (1 year, semester 7-8) August 2022 - July 2023
Phase two will involve monitoring the results of the policy change. The objective of the project is to obtain an increase of 10% in regional innovation activity stimulated by eGovernment initiatives by 2022.
How have we proceeded since the last newsletter?
The past months were different from what we had planned. Even though we had high hopes in mid-2021, that the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was going to be the last one, things happened otherwise. The epidemic has been still affecting the implementation of the events, but we have acted accordingly. We have organized non-travelling meetings and paid special attention to pave the way for the last semester of BETTER'sthree-year international learning phase.
Since the last edition, we have three Study visits, focusing on good pratices including: Digital services to citizens and enterprises in Genoa; How LEGO® tools can be used for educational and talent development purposes, or howService design as a method changed Gävle's public services. For detailed information, see the list and agenda of the events below.
This newsletter is completed to inform you about the outputs of the last months.
Study visits in a nutshell
Good practices examined
Study visit #05
17 July 2021
Digital services to citizens - “Digital Citizen Folder” - "Segnalaci"
Digital services to enterprises – “Platform for Labour Policies”
Security and resilience - “Technological update of the local Police operation Center” & “Rain and hydrometric level data digital model”
Study visit #special edition
13 September 2021
Lego education innovation studio - possibilities of using LEGO® tools for educational and talent development purposes
Digital tree – Innovation Habitat - developing a culture of skills related to Big Data, Machine Learning and Data Science
Genoa; Gävle; Birmingham;
Study visit #06
27 October 2021
Service design at Gävle municipality - methodology; integration techniques & the “Digital renewal team”
E-services at Gävle municipality – transforming the services; benefits for the citizens & the municipality
Study visit #05
Held on 17th July 2021, hosted by Genoa
DIGITAL CITIZEN FOLDER
Within the digital tranformation, the Municipality of Genoa is enancing public services delivery for citizens through platforms such as:
"Segnalaci", the interactive "listening spot" dedicated to citizens reports and recommendations
The geoportal, allowing to view geospatial information and data sets within Genoa's territory and
The Digital citizen Folder - the access single point to the residents' personal data and municipal online services.
The Digital Citizen Folder is a personal digital record, enhancing the user experience with Genoa's online services. It is a digital repository, storing people's personal information and documents and allowing to quickly and easily find them. It is the digital innovation of Genoa Municipality, improving and simplifying citizen's relations with the public administration of their city. The Digital Citizen Folder allows residents to access the municipal services from the comfort of their home, without having to move through the city. It is available on phone, letting people connect wherever they are.
The citizens, with only one access, are able to find information and documents that interest them, carry out administrative obligations, saving time and avoiding the time constraints of traditional offices. The databases concerned are those related to the following thematic areas: taxes, building and land registry, environment and territory, public works, public heritage, assistance and social support, public housing, energy and mobility.
PLATFORM FOR LABOUR POLICIES
In Genoa and the region the number of start-ups multiplied between 2014-2019. This gives the impression that the sector is booming, but as it turned out in a survey they are struggling to stabilize themselves.The reason for that has to do with their problems accessing capital market, which is because they are not well presented and investors cannot assess them well. Genoa aims to:
improve the competitiveness, the ability to compete on the market, of the local small enterprises and startups;
support the local entrepreneural network;
attract new investment opportunities to Genoa;
promoting quality employment
To tackle this issue an "Enterprises showcase" was realized by the Municipality of Genoa together with Liguria Digitale to provide the innovative enterprises with a wider visibility.
This is a website, where: enterprises can register to free of charge. The page gives them the opportuninity to share competencies and test their idea on the market; build relationships and enhance their network (clients, institutions, other enterprises); and strenghten their business.
An even more targeted tool of Genoa to stimulate the sector is the soon-to be lauched website called: NOVA which is a digital ecosystem to promote business creation and innovation culture.
give value to territorial excellence;
share projects, products, technologies and news,
generate business, relationships, opportunities;
match researh, technologies and services
make the market more competititve.
The platform will provide tailor made services such as: news and updates about events, training courses, funding opportunities, new services offered by stakeholders; sharing spaces (i.e. rooms for meetings, co-working, etc) to encourage participation and strengthen cooperation. The platform will also display calls for grant proposals: an updated list of the funding opportunities, at international, EU and national level (priorities, procedures and calls). A further implementation is a linked website where all the process of submission and evaluation of the proposals (related to a call launched by the Municipality of Genoa) will be carried out in a single place.
SECURITY AND RESILIENCE
This session of the event comprised two projects:
The technological update of the local police operation center and
Rain and hydrometric level data digital model
The technological update of the local police operation center
The development of the operation center includes the upgrading of the headquarters; the installation of a new digital radio infrastructure; and the transition to DMR digital technology. The developments are needed in order to be able to meet the new challenges of policing and being technologocally advanced to prevent crime. Upgrades include the renewal of radio terminals through mobile operators, transceivers and dashcams and the refurbishment of the new operation center, where all operators will use the latest technology. A good example of the change is the video wall containing sixteen 55-inch panels that visualizes the important information that a police operator needs to know to take adequate action. As for the radio infrastructure, the transition from analog to digital technology allows a safe, interference free connection.
Rain and hydrometric level data digital model
Genoa is a fragile territory due to the fact that it is subject to intense rainfall and at the risk of flooding and landslides. Until recent times a system was used to integrate and process the data returning the hydrometerologic stations, as well as high definition cartographic data, and other parameters such as: the territory's humidity, current, bed sediment, sea conditions etc. However the municipality discovered that model was too slow to elaborate the data. A better working model is needed, therefore different event scenarios were developed related to floodings, and landslide phenomena on 11 identified basins. Each area is provided with susceptibility to critical instability, and maps of the critical values of cumulated rainfall. The model with the existing data together with the event scenarios will be much quicker therefore will give time to the administration and the population to implement the most appropriate protection measures.
Study visit #special edition
Held on 13th September 2021, hosted byNyíregyháza - special event connecting two actors in the area of innovation-based education
LEGO EDUCATION INNOVATION STUDIO
Danish toy manufacturer Lego and Nyíregyháza City have a special relation hence one of the company's plants (the second biggest by 2023) is located in the city. Lego - being a major employer in Nyíregyháza - has close relations with many local institutions, such as the University of Nyíregyháza. A great example of their collaboration is the LEGO Education Innovation Studio (LEGO EIS). The aim of the studio is to acquaint prospective and practicing teachers, educators and kindergarten teachers with the possibilities of using LEGO® tools for educational and talent development purposes. The method's foundation is that LEGO tools are very easy to use in developing mathematical and scinece, engineering, robotics, information technology,comprehension, and story-telling skills.
The studio transfers the methodology and its pedagogical values to the pedagogues as well as the guests, professionals and students and helps to develop a new kind of pedagogical culture. The application of the tools is included in the teacher training methodology of the University of Nyíregyháza.
The studio offers internal trainings including: training of trainers; Info Communication Technology (ICT) trainings; student trainings; and external trainings for practicing teachers.
LEGO EIS received help from external experts (i.e. during a trip to Belgium) on how to start the first stage of implementation; this was an important ingredient of their success later. It also validates the process of the BETTER experience exchange as a useful way to introduce good practices to a new environment: capitalizing on existing knowledge, hearing about it from its “original” practitioners directly, and THEN adapting the practice to the local context with their involvement/support. Teaching not just kids, but also teachers, is a sure-fire way to achieve long term results by guaranteeing a ready pool of educators who are able to “carry on” the methodology (teaching them how to fish, not just giving them a fish, so to speak).
DIGITAL TREE - Innovation Habitat's
“Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” (Warren Buffett).
This teaching/learning style (i.e. experimentation, social interactions, a fun learning experience) is the future of education not just for science or technology-based subjects like AI, machine learning or physics, but also for other topics. Problem solving methods MUST catch up with the technological and other advancements/changes of civilization not just on a case-by-case basis, but also nationally/globally.
Digital Tree is the Innovation Habitat of the City of Genoa, founded and developed by Mixura, a Business Strategic Consultancy Company. Digital Tree is focused on developing a culture of skills and culture related to Big Data, Machine Learning and Data Science through its Academyand to the development of an Innovative Enterprise through its own incubator dedicated to "AI powered" startups. https://smart.comune.genova.it/
The Incubator offers:
Call 4 Ideas to bring out potential startups that use AI technologies;
Pre-incubation and incubation paths to challenge the idea, understand its real and potential applications and development and for business creation with the support of the ecosystem's Business Analyst;
Market exposure through dedicated Investor days.
Co-working spaces to continuebusiness development in a context opento positive contamination.
Traditional "closed innovation" models are no longer able to represent the complexity of innovative phenomena in the current economic and social scenario; we must therefore imagine innovation no longer as a process part of a closed and controlled circuit within the company perimeter, but as a concept linked to the contamination of ideas, business networks and horizontal relationships; we are moving towards new paradigms that push companies to seek innovation beyond company boundaries, "open innovation", where the watchword is contamination of ideas, skills and company resources.
The most common tools ofOpen Innovation are:
Collaborations with universities and research centers;
Partner scouting: identification of partners and strategic forms of collaboration;
Corporate venture capital: investments in startups and innovativeSMEs in exchange for risk capital shares;
Call4idea & Call4Startup: competitions aimed at collecting innovative ideas to solve real problems;
Hackathon: competitions involving people outside the company -usually developers - to generate innovative ideas useful for the companybusiness;
Creation of relationships with incubators or accelerators such as Digital Tree.
Specifically Digital Tree Academy offers: "Maia":Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence Academy, which is a post-graduate course of three months to train and certify professionals of Data Scientist;"AI 4 Leaders": to introduce managers and entrepreneurs to the world of AI andto the extent to which this revolution can change the market, processes andproducts. “AI 4 Kids": that is, the introduction to Artificial Intelligence.
Digital Treeis the creator and promoter of C1A0 expo, or the International Exhibition on Artificial Intelligence, of which it has the scientific direction.
C1A0 is an opportunity for:
Highlight thehistory of competence and excellence in Technological Innovation historically expressed by the Ligurian territory;
Offer an informative context in whichto make the concepts related to Artificial Intelligence accessible to all;
Be the engine of economic development by aggregating innovation needs and innovation carriers.
The event conlcluded with a possibility for the cooperations in cooperating in:
Solving a real challenge together (during an online co-design session or a 2-day face-to-face study tour)
Sharing methodology (e.g. on how to provide instructions for teachers or organize non-technical games for kids which introduce them to the more technical subjects)
Study visit #06
Held on 27th October 2021, hosted byGävle
SERVICE DESIGN AS A METHOD AT GÄVLE MUNICIPALITY
Method and mindset that is applicable to both innovation and in designing public services. Gävle has worked with the method several years; They have done everything from inspiration to training, with a total of 600 employees. Amongst many positive outcomes, the programme has also resulted in saving countless administration hours for council employees. As a result, it has freed up social workers/ health care workers time to concentrate on delivering quality services to elderly and disabled residents. The approach adopted by Gavle Council in the Digital Renewalprogramme in 2016 was based on the Innovationsguiden (service design) methodology which champions a holistic approach to public sector challenges which focus on the end-user who helps inform the solution. The six steps to achieving a good outcome are neatly illustrated in the below diagram.
E-SERVICES AT GÄVLE MUNICIPALITY
Since 2016, Gävle, has an inhouse expert team that supports the municipal departments/companies in their development work (centrally financed, meaning: participating units do not pay for the support): they do needs-based development work as a multi-competence team. Gavle has been involved in 150-200 hundred processes over the past four years. In most cases the results of the processes include some kind of an e-service, but also many other forms of solutions/actions (which can be anything from stopping doing something, to information, FAQs, etc). E-service in Gävle is not the goal, but to improve for the customers and their organisation.
The intervention resulted in saving countless administration hours for council employees, freeing up social workers/ health care workers time to concentrate on delivering quality services to elderly and disabled residents. The implemented solutions included:
Digitised key management (digital locks) for 2,000 customers
Digital alarms around customers’ wrists
20% of all-night inspections were carried out using night cameras as opposed to in person visits
Documentation, signing deviations are handled via a mobile phone home care app
Integrating home care and health care
The preparation for the broad introduction of online purchasing of food and pharmaceuticals
The implementation of a pilot ‘Homecare/Healthcare at a distance’ app. This included a digital calendar with basic information including who was visiting, time for exercise, medication and online real time meetings, remote hydration measurements and pulse rate.
All care homes were supplied with internet access and VR experiences which were utilised with dementia patients and people with disabilities, yielding positive results.
In BETTER we cherish all the project events as they always bring professional experiences and personal memories. We have asked ourselves about the most memorable ones.
So what is next?
We carry on
While in earlier stages - through Thematic events and Study visits - partners collected and examined good practices to tackle their innovation challenges; their main focus now is to learn how to best adopt them. This process will be done through ‘Import workshops’ where the ‘owner’ and the ‘importing partner’ work together to apply the good practice in its new environment. With Semester #5 we are closing a period full of preparatory work. BETTER is soon reaching the last semester of its three-year international learning phase. The coming months will certainly be the most vibrant stage of the project. Among other activities, partner cities are to hold five more Study visits, five Import workshops and five Regional events - all to shape, finalize and disseminate their ‘Regional Action Plans’ which they formulate in order to implement innovation chain improvements. Due to continued public health concerns related to coronavirus / COVID-19, non-virtual meetings will only be held if travelling and entering restrictions are not in place anymore.