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Danmark - Creating a city of digital citizens

Denmark was for the first time ever in 2018 evaluated to be the world’s best in e-government initiatives by United Nations (UN) based on their e-Government Survey.

Taking the lead in e-governance

According to the survey, Denmark’s success comes from the implementation of the Digital Strategy which runs from 2016-2020 and sets the course for Danish public sector digitisation efforts by continues evolving digital public administration, communication and e-services. One key innovation is it’s “‘digital first’ approach where electronic interaction is now legally mandatory, eg. the citizens are required to have Digital Post, E-boks, a digital mailbox, by the age of 15, where this mailbox will work as the main communication between public services and the citizen.

From citizens to users

The communication and contact between the danish citizen and the public sector has therefore now changed. The Danish citizens are now more than ever expected to navigate in technology themselves, as the public sector has changed from having the primary function of helping by providing services for the citizens, to now helping by making the citizen able to navigate the digital services themselves.

But with the change in the communication and contact one may ask; how does the citizen actually experience the changed communication and contact and what does the different communication channels mean? What are the expectations of the state and how do citizens handle these expectations in their daily lives?

Digitization is the means, not the goal

It is stated in Rambølls report ‘IT i Praksis 2016’ that the danish citizens prefer self-service for simple tasks. However, when it comes to complaints, a situation of great importance to the citizen or a new situation, the majority prefers face-to-face communication or a telephone conversation.

Results may indicate that many of those who help to decide how the state, municipalities and regions digitize the administration lack insight into citizens’ views on public service.

If you want to develop and offer digital services, then they have to start somewhere else and see digitalization as the means – not the goal.

But maybe this is also something the Agency for Digitalisation are reflecting upon more with their Digital-ready legislation. Maybe they consider questions such as; What relationship do we want the citizens we serve have with us? What is the needs, values and preconditions of citizens?

Do you have other considerations needed when creating a society of digital citizens?

Sources: Hjelholt, Morten & Hansen, Jannick Schou. (2017). ‘Den Digitale Borger’. Udgave 1. Hans Ritzels Forlag

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