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Luxembourg taps into innovation for better government tech

In Luxembourg, government technology (govtech) means technology that improves government services by facilitating collaboration among ministries and by rendering it easier for citizens and businesses to connect to public administrations.

Computer Weekly spoke with one particular in charge of developing govtech solutions in Luxembourg from the Ministry for Digitalisation andthe Government IT Centre (CTIE).

The Ministry for Digitalisation was made in December 2018 with the purpose of making peoples lives easier through digital technology, saysVera Soares, government adviser at the Ministry for Digitalisation and person in the Cabinet. Once the Ministry for Digitalisation started, we immediately began dealing with the CTIE on concrete projects.

Luxembourg has already established an IT centre because the 1970s, and in 2008 it became the CTIE which in charge of providing the majority of the IT services needed by ministries and administrations. It really is in charge of the operation of the state-owned network and information security, provide you with the ministries and administrations with computers and phones and offer hosting services, software as something, and platform as something. In addition, it develops applications. The CTIE may be the biggest shared service centre for this services in Luxembourgs government.

Govtech is our core business, saysPatrick Houtsch, director of the CTIE. Probably the most recent projects was in 2019 whenever we launched a public sector blockchain, that is a very innovative govtech solution. Its a huge hit because not merely did we offer the blockchain, but we’ve also provided solutions that are powered by the blockchain.

Among the solutions was for processing student education loans, says Houtsch. A bank can verify a student has been granted a warranty from hawaii and they haven’t yet used this guarantee at another bank. This sort of thing is govtech that people do as daily business. But we’ve a separate lab, gives us better usage of innovative ideas and facilitates our exchange with experts from the private sector.

The GovTech Lab, as it is well known, premiered virtually on November 20, 2020, in the center of the pandemic. It has evolved since and today includes a physical space.

The GovTech Lab provides usage of industry leading technology

The Ministry for Digitalisation and the CTIE interact to boost services through govtech and the GovTech Lab can be an important section of our work, saysChristine Zoller, person in the Ministry for Digitalisation responsible for the lab. We are able to depend on an IT sector that’s perfectly developed and a government which has a large amount of experience running IT projects.

We created the GovTech Lab to create and enhance more govtech solutions for the three key players: public administrations, citizens and businesses, saysLuis Carvalho Da Silva, person in the CTIE responsible for the GovTech Lab. The solutions we promote now are to meet up national needs, however they are made to be interoperable at the European level.

The lab has three missions. The foremost is to accelerate innovation in the general public sector by adding to the transformation of public services it can this by identifying challenges and launching demands solutions. The challenges are concerns that public entities may have and that could be solved by innovative solutions, including digital technology. Once a number of challenges are identified, a demand solutions is launched.

You can find two processes for achieving this. For projects where innovative solutions are essential, an innovation partnership can be used, which involves a fresh public procurement process which allows for more flexibility in the complete procedure for selection. The lab tries to collaborate with external actors, that could be startups, researchers, freelancers, businesses or students.

That is an iterative process to work through the facts of the answer through different phases: the proof concept phase and the pilot project phase. By the end of the phases, an applicant is selected by way of a jury made up of two fixed members (Vera Soares and Patrick Houtsch) and variable members civil servants or external experts.

For smaller projects in which a fast interaction with external experts is necessary, the GovTech Lab launches a SpeedUP. That is mainly utilized for small pilot projects or expert analysis or reviews.

The next mission of the GovTech Lab would be to develop a govtech community through dedicated events. This endeavour is supported by the physical space of the lab situated in the CTIE building, where many events have previously occurred since its opening in March 2022.

In addition, it networks with external actors, doing things such as for example hackathons, designathons, co-creative sessions and thematic conferences, where it invites different actors from the ecosystem to come quickly to the GovTech Labs to go over new trends, share experiences or just co-create on a particular topic. Everybody can share suggestions to find better means of helping with the digital transformation of hawaii.

The 3rd mission would be to end up being the reference place for state officials to visit when theyre thinking about digital technologies also to work with a more co-creative and agile approach with regards to designing new applications for the general public sector.

We really make an effort to foster the exchange…with the various administrations and ministries to allow them to easier share their input and expertise , says Zoller.

Up to now, the GovTech Lab has launched three innovation projects: Bye Bye Robots,Trust My Data and Virtual Meeting Room.

Bye Bye Robots is really a new captcha treatment for secure forms on the web, so that they arent overloaded by robot requests.

Trust My Data is really a platform that issues official digital certificates which can be stored by means of either credentials or digital certificates within an e-wallet and that may be verified by anyone.

Virtual Meeting Room intends to own possibility to citizens to meet up the general public agent responsible for their inquiry via an online video-conferencing tool which is integrated in the one-stop portal called MyGuichet.lu.

Government developed solutions versus startup solutions

We’ve always developed govtech through the CTIE and can continued to take action, says Soares. The GovTech Lab is complementary and tries to push innovation and new digital solutions in public areas services. The approach differs. We are attempting to integrate new actors in to the ecosystem including startups, universities and students.

Bye Bye Robots was the initial challenge the GovTech Lab launched. For Houtsch, it had been a huge hit since it allowed them to verify their new method of finding solution.

We launched the decision for solutions, and a large set of applicants came and proposed their solutions, says Houtsch. We saw completely different approaches that people could actually choose from. There have been some very innovative solutions, and we could actually do things in a manner that may not have already been possible if we’d gone through the original approach of issuing a tender.

The knowledge with Trust My Data was similar. The GovTech Lab launched the task and got plenty of applicants with different solutions, then went in to the details of all of the proposed solutions and picked one. Today, GovTech Lab is owning a pilot project with the business.

We have now see that the idea of the works perfectly, says Houtsch. A much broader selection of solutions using different technologies is presented to us to resolve confirmed challenge.

The lab gets the added advantage of giving new solution providers an opportunity to work with the federal government. Its challenging for startups to take part in national tenders since they sometimes require experience or for a summary of national programmes already finished with the federal government.

To kickstart the procedure, the GovTech Lab gives startups an opportunity to execute a pilot project. In addition, it gives universities and freelance workers an opportunity to take part in the digitisation of public services.

Creating a startup ecosystem isn’t the main priority for the ministry, says Soares. Thats more of important for the Ministry of the Economy as well as Luxinnovation, the innovation agency in Luxembourg. However, we do ensure it is easier for startups to provide their know-how also it answers to accelerate the digitisation of public services.

A little country attuned to a diverse demography

Area of the new method of govtech would be to ask citizens their opinions also to integrate them in the co-creation process. The Ministry for Digitalisation create a participatory platform called Zesumme Vereinfachen (Luxembourgish for Simplify together), to solicit feedback from citizens on new apps for instance also to make suggestions generally. The purpose of Zesumme Vereinfachenwould be to develop public services that produce citizens lifestyle easier by asking them to donate to the administrative simplification.

GovTech solutions need to get in touch with people with a number of cultural backgrounds folks from around 170 different nationalities reside in Luxembourg. Additionally, there are three administrative languages: French, German, and Luxembourgish. English is widely spoken in Luxembourg.

Govtech also consider people who have special needs. The Ministry for Digitalisation defined strategic pillars, with one of many pillars being digital inclusion, says Soares. We’ve a little team focusing on that, and in 2021 we launched a national digital inclusion plan with 40 initiatives, from all of the different ministries. Eighteeninitiatives were from the Ministry for Digitalisation.

Among our concerns is how exactly to integrate individuals who desire to become digital but arent yet, so we consider different cultural backgrounds, people who have disabilities, the elderly, and so forth.

For individuals who arent thinking about adopting digital technology, the federal government includes a rule that administrative procedures should be offered in some recoverable format.

The continuing future of GovTech

A very important factor that may happen within the next five years is really a mind shift towards likely to the market to consider solutions, says Da Silva. We have been already carrying it out in the CTIE, nonetheless it may also happen for the general public sector generally.

Its not necessarily easy to work out how new technologies might help. Lots of people are reluctant to use a fresh solution if they dont know the technology its predicated on. As more government agencies demonstrate the benefit of likely to market, I expect this attitude to improve.

Houtsch adds: Its a mind shift in direction of being more open minded. We look at a broader selection of alternatives and we do not jump on the initial solution that attracts us. Our new approach would be to look at plenty of different solutions also to anticipate to adopt new technologies faster.

Houtsch says: The GovTech Lab helps us to obtain connected much earlier with new technologies. For instance, we started using blockchain technology before founding the GovTech Lab. It had been a large effort for all of us to dig involved with it and understand advantages and the stumbling blocks also to find out where it could be used. The GovTech Lab can help us do this later on.

Soares adds: We have been getting more and much more in to the role of personalised company. This is a very important factor that’s coming with digitisation. Citizens need public services which are more accessible, more personalised with their needs. And I believe that just how forward would be to are more pro-active in this sense.

The federal government will be able to predict needs in line with the individual situations. GovTech should ensure it is easier and less frustrating for citizens to reap the benefits of services.

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