Point of view

Interview Pilar Conesa

posted Feb 20, 2013, 10:53 AM by STC eGov   [ updated Feb 21, 2013, 2:57 PM ]

Point of view - Pilar Conesa.

01.- Congratulations for the II Smart City Expo World Congress. There is a bit of confusion about what a smart city is. Many people from many places talk about it using the same word with different meanings. Given this fact, what is a smart city for you?

It's true that there are different visions. Some point of view focus on specific topics that the others don't. Even so, all of them agree to consider that moving to the Smart Cities concept means to develop more sustainable cities, with greater quality of life, economically competitive and involving citizens to build a Smart Society.
There are 6 fundamental working areas: in which the Smart City is integrating and enabling new technology developments, innovating models, coordinating actors and socially thinking forward: energy, urban planning & building, environment, mobility, society & people & living and Governance & economy.

02.- Given your definition of Smart City, can you give a couple of examples of Smart cities. What does make them make a smart city?

Each city establishes its Smart City strategy depending on its priorities. A city in India doesn't have the same strategy as one in Europe, Africa or USA. The starting point is very different from each city and needs different priorities aligned with the city strategy. I'll give you several examples. Amsterdam and Copenhagen focus on mobility, green city and entrepreneur network. In the United States, New York or San Francisco are leaders in Open Government and citizen engagement. Barcelona is the world center of Mobile, City protocol and Urban Lab. On the other hand, London works on sustainability mobility. In Asia, Japan cities (Tokyo, Fukushima, Yokohama) are worried about energy whereas Seoul focuses on ubiquitous city.

03.What type of projects are more genuine related to smart cities?

Nevertheless the projects of each city rely on city priorities, the more common projects are within six topics. Mobility -specially about electrical vehicle and multimodal services-, smart lighting, water and waste management systems, participation & citizen engagement, apps for urban services, renewable energy production, city platform and minimizing the environmental impact of buildings.

04.- In the smart city context, what is a smart government? Does this concept have anything to do with open government? In what sense?

One of the axes of Smart Cities is the Smart Government. Furthermore, to be efficient, the city government has to be collaborative, open and participative, fostering the citizen engagement. All these concepts are aligned with Open Government. It's not only about to open data, it also has to do with the collaboration between citizens, innovators and entrepreneurs with the City Hall. It's a challenge for the local administration because implies a cultural change.

05.- What is the concept that the average citizen has about smart cities? Is it necessary to perform information campaigns in order to advertise Smart Cities benefits?

In the past two years, Smart Cities has been present in the mass media and this can help to spread the Smart Cities concept, but still is not known enough. It's needed to disseminate information about of specific initiatives and projects benefits.

06.-One of Smart Cities biggest challenges is to combat climate change. Which innovations have been presented in Smart City Expo World Congress related to the electrical vehicle?

The electrical vehicle's deployment is one of the challenges to reduce the CO2 impact as well as the promotion of alternative mobility ways as cycling or walking.
In the Smart City Expo World Congress were presented the vision from the automotive industry, the energy production companies, the new players and the cities. The deployment of the electrical vehicle is clearly moving forward around the world: in Europe, Japan, USA, Canada or China.
The more significant innovations are the evolution in the electric vehicle production - cars and motorcycle - in the battery management, and the new fast charging methods as well as wireless charging systems.

07.- Smart cities are characterized by efficient management of the natural resources available. Which developments have been on water and waste management systems in the Smart City Expo World Congress.

Several water and waste projects were presented. When it comes to waste, projects were related to improving trash bins efficiency with sensors, waste energy generation, and waste specific compacting products as the one that won the Smart Cities award.
What it refers to water services, the initiatives showed in the World Congress were related to water cycle management, smart metering, irrigation systems sensors and building techniques to reduce water consumptions.

08.- Smart Cities collect large amounts of data from citizens. Could this collection of data lead to privacy invasion like in the Orwellian 1984?

I don't think so, because the information is stored anonymously. Large amounts of data are collected from different sources: sensors, equipments and, of course, citizens. The systems will be "smart" crossing this data and getting valuable information to improve urban services making them more efficient. This information will also help the citizen in the day by day life.

09.-The infrastructure of a Smart City might be very costly. How do you see the utilization of the Public Cloud infrastructure to reduce costs?

Cloud services, not only cloud infrastructure, are clearly a way to reduce costs. Over the 2012–2016 forecast, IDC estimates that public IT cloud services period will have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.4%, five times that from the IT industry overall. This cloud services growth meets the demand to reduce costs and efforts.

10.-Several experts said Smart City approaches will not be rolled out if the cyber security risk is not well understood and managed. In your opinion, what is the Smart City approach to cyber security risk?

I don't agree that Smart Cities will not be rolled out until cyber security risk is not well understood. I think that cities have the same level of cyber security risk problem before deploying smart cities initiatives because cities are managing large amounts of data.
In any case, it's needed to define clear policies, a governance model and security awareness.

20 February 2013

Interview Mila Gasco

posted Dec 5, 2012, 9:40 AM by STC eGov   [ updated Dec 5, 2012, 10:27 AM ]

Point of view - Mila Gasco.

01.- You're writing a book about open government, but when a government is open...
An open government is a government that pursues transparency, collaboration and participation.

02.- What effect do you think the economic crisis would have on e-Government national programs in most advanced countries? What about that effect on emerging countries?
Almost everywhere crises are resulting in closing e-government programs and in cutting investment in ICT down. It should be the other way round since it has been proved that e-government gives rise to efficiency gains (that is the case, for example, of interoperability projects). However, politicians have a short term view and so not see that small investments now can lead to future benefits.

03.- In your experience about e-Government and Open Government, which is your view about their relation with privacy?
Privacy issues are very important and have to be taken into account when opening data or when carrying out interoperability projects (information sharing, exchange of data). However, too often privacy issues become a barrier as well and it is tough to keep a balance between the need to keep data privacy and the need to be operative and well functioning.

04.-How does Open Government deals with citizen's privacy?
It is as simple as not opening the data which belong to someone in particular. For example, you do not open personal data. If you consider other types of projects, such as interoperability ones (which, for me, have to do with collaboration), it is not that easy because the Spanish regulation is very strict and that means that in order to make sure personal data is protected and respected the processes slow down. For me, and as I said before, t is difficult to keep a balance.

05.- In your opinion what could be the 2-3 major initiatives to ensure equal access of citizens to e-Government services.
For me, there are two broad initiatives which are necessary: investment in infrastructures and training. Regarding the first one I am not only referring to connectivity issues. Investing in telecentres or digital public spaces, for me, has also to do with infrastructures. Regarding the second one, I mean more that training in how to use word or excel. It is important to build digital competencies which has to do with using ICT with a purpose that improves one's quality of life.

06.-How to enhance the trust of e-Government?
Making things easier!!!!! For example, we have spent so much money in e-IDs and no one is using them because it is not easy!!! The easier the better!! Training also matters. And again, I do not mean ICT training. To make people aware of security issues is key. There is a lack of a security culture on the Internet, both regarding citizens and companies. Enhancing these matters would increase trust in e-government. Finally, trust will naturally increase. Our kids, who are so used to ICT already have more trust in the Internet than we or our elders do.

07.-A key point in Open Government is interoperability. Is it compatible with privacy?
Well, I sort of answered that before. It is compatible although it is difficult to find a balance. We need to be more flexible in the virtual world. There is no point in copying onsite patterns because they do not apply anymore in the online world. One of the most important benefits of investing in ICT is efficiency. Interoperability clearly give rise to efficiency gains. However, if we are not more flexible regarding privacy issues (and that does not mean not to take care of it) the processes slow down and we lose good opportunities. For example, we have to be practical. We want to offer benefits to the citizen but then we ask him/her to authorize the exchange of information among public organizations. And we ask him/her every time, not just once.

08.- Is interoperability really included in the political agenda?
No. Interoperability does not result in more votes!!! It is not a citizen demand. Thus, it is not a political priority. It should, now more than ever. Citizens do not demand interoperability but, because of the economic crisis which has been hitting us, more and more, they require public administrations to be efficient. And interoperability helps public administrations to be efficient.

09.- What is the role of web 2.0 and web 3.0 in the adoption of e-Government?
I am not sure what you mean by the adoption of e-government. But if we talk about the contribution of web 2.0 and web 3.0 to e-government, I would say it has a lot of potential regarding opening data, interoperability (for which semantics is key) and, of course, collaboration and participation. Regarding the latter, the more interactive the web, the better. Unidirectional websites do not promote participation nor collaboration.

10.- How do you see WeGO Awards will help to advance on e-Government improvement and best practices?
WeGo Awards have awarded good practices around the world. Those initiatives were evaluated and ranked. Thus, the ones with more points won. That means they were better than others. In this respect, they are examples to follow. We had 46 projects to be evaluated and 10 won. All of them were very good but those 10 were great projects, from a planning, implementation and results point of view. They are an example for others, they are leading the way for e-government development.

11.-Do you think the e-Government is necessary during the construction of smart city? Why?
For me a smart city can be analyzed according to 8 dimensions: management and organization, technology, governance, policy context, people and communities, economy, built infrastructure, and natural environment. As some colleagues of mine (Pardo in the University of Albany, Scholl in Washington University or Peres in the Universidad Externado de Colombia) state, managerial and organizational concerns in smart city initiatives need to be discussed in the context of e-government and IT projects success. Also, it cannot be forgotten that most smart city initiatives are driven by governments and leveraged by the intensive use of ICTs to better serve citizens. The governance dimension is also clearly linked to e-government. Several cities have started transformational projects and initiatives called smart city initiatives to better serve citizens and to improve their quality of life. These projects involve multiple stakeholders. Thus, several cities have felt an increased need for better governance to manage these projects and initiatives.

12.-What is the role of Smart Cities in the e-Government ecosystem?

I do not know what the e-government ecosystem means for you!!! But I will make a guess and, actually, I think it is the other way round: the role of e-government in the smart city ecosystem or in a broader context for that matter. I referred to this in the previous question: e-government is part of a smarty city. In fact, in a smart city we should not speak about e-government any more but about the smart government (that is, making governmental operations “smarter” - more efficient, effective, transparent, and accountable).

13.- How would you explain to the general public the benefits of e-Government in general and of Smart Cities in particular?
Again, I would say it is the other way round: smarty cities in general and e-government in particular. Regarding the former, and just to name a few: more possibilities for innovation (which leads to GDP gains), efficient urban regeneration and management, contribution to the environment (smart cities pursue environmental sustainability by means of, for example, water or energy efficiency). Regarding the latter and just to name a few: effectiveness and efficiency both for public administrations and citizens, transparency, more accountability.

14.-Are there some lost topic, when nowadays people are speaking on Open Government?
I do not know if there is a lost topic but I am not sure we are committed to open government. Everyone talks about it. It is the hot topic now! One is old-fashioned if s/he does not speak about open government. But, do we really want to be more transparent? Do we really want people to participate? I am sure we want to develop an infomediaries industry (it gives money) but how about citizens' participation? It has never been easy. And social media and opening data is not enough. We need to develop an attitude towards that. It is not enough to have a twitter account. We have to do something out of it!!!

15.- You have a PhD in Evaluation. Related with this topic, is evaluation a true part of the e-Government agenda?
No!!!! Unfortunately. Ministers and senior electronic government officials from 29 countries in the region gathered last week in San José of Costa Rica at the invitation of the host government, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) to analyze how technology can be incorporated into public policies focused on citizens. I presented a project on e-government evaluation that has consisted in the building of an evaluation framework that guarantees e-government sustainability. Everyone was really interested in it because there is a lack of evaluation tools since there is a lack of an e-government evaluation culture.

30 November 2012

Interview Carlos E. Jimenez

posted Oct 24, 2012, 2:56 PM by STC eGov   [ updated May 13, 2013, 8:35 PM by Carlos E. Jimenez-Gomez ]

Point of view - Carlos E. Jiménez.

01.- What is eGovernment?
Electronic Government, eGovernment or Digital Government refers to the use of information and communication technology to provide and improve government services, transactions and interactions with citizens, businesses, and other branches of government, in the front office and the back office. For example, when we are speaking of Cloud Computing in public administrations, we are speaking about eGovernment (Government Cloud). Usually, when I speak on eGov, I'm speaking in a broad sense, including all its components. In specific contexts I usually explain the focus (eg. eGovernnance, Open Government, etc).

02.- Does the tech community should provide a roadmap to the public agency to develop eGov?
It should help, but it is important to understand that eGovenrment needs a transversal and strategic view where technology is important, but it is only a tool. It is important to consider management, public policy or organizational views too, and governance is key.

03.-One website related eGovernment..
Those web sites that are One-Stop-Shop and Open. But it is important to know that eGovernment needs a contextualization and, in addition, web is only one of many channels. Every region, every city, every country needs to put in context its public policies related with the best way to use of eGovernment (including its tools). Eg. We could do a better use of SMS than a website  if the penetration of mobile devices are 100% in population.

04.- Countries the most advanced in eGov?
I would say, instead, public administrations than countries. The answer, in my opinion, is those that are the most innovative. I think they are the countries that are going to the 2nd cycle of interoperability models, and they are correctly evaluating its programs and actions. They are evolving into Open Government. I think UK and USA are two good examples.

05.-Challenges for public agencies to implement…?
Evaluation, interoperability, resistance to change, and a true openness.

06.- eGov benefits?
Efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and better services citizen-centric oriented.

07.- One disadvantage of eGovernment is the lack of equality in public access to the internet. What can be done to minimize this drawback?
Of course, this is an effect of digital divide. eGovernment is a field impacted by this divide (and no only eGovernment is related with the digital divide). Always, eGovernment is a complementary way to serve citizens. Nowadays we are in the Information Society era, and this is one of the reasons that we need to impulse e-inclusion policies. In this context, in fact, we could see eGovernment as a tool that justifies the impulse of e-inclusion public policies, for development. For example, Tele-Centers for sharing technologies, are an interesting possibility.

08.- What other factors are affecting eGov access and use?
Security, privacy, infrastructures, e-inclusion… it is important to think the eGov as a part of a broad (and transversal) public policy, and a way in order to offer services to the citizen (in addition to others). Anyway, it is important to say that there is a big cultural gap too, related with relationship between citizen-administration.

09.-Is eGov known by citizens & admins?
Knowledge by administrations is increasing every day, but it has to be correctly understood what eGov means, and it is a true challenge sometimes for public administrations.
For citizens, only some of its initiatives are known, and mainly focused in the front office. Important elements as interoperability of eGovernmentare focused in the back office and citizens doesn't know (and, of course, citizen doesn't need to know about) this matter.

10.- Should be developed taking into account the variety of admin?
Collaboration is one of the keys of eGov. Absolutely. All levels of administrations and institutions should collaborate. eGovernment it should be developed taking into account the variety of administrations, in an horizontal and vertical perspective, and not only administrations. For example, public-private partnership (PPP) are very interesting elements in order to achieve better services to the citizens.

11.-What is the impact of eGov in the Smart Cities?
I think it is in the same "bag". In fact I would state the question as "what is the impact of smart cities in eGov?" because smart cities can be a tool in order to achieve a better and smarter Governance, eServices, and eGovernment.

12.-Will eGov be the predominant relation model with citizens?
I think it will go ahead in this way for developed regions. In my opinion, it should go.

13.- As a citizen, why should I trust eGov?
Why not? But first of all, we need to have a "cybersecurity" culture, in the same way and level that we trust on Government (without "e"). In addition, technologies applied in Government can help to increase transparency, but if a Government doesn't want to be transparent or don't deserves trust from the citizen, in the virtual way it will not change neiter.

14.- Does eGov provide admin with more info about people?
No. We should think that the laws are the same. We have to be aware that a privacy framework it is needed, and it means privacy and data protection laws. For interchange of data, it should be a requierement with ever increasing highlight. The info should be useful to government, in order to achieve better services and better governance.

15.-How could eGov affect individuals privacy?
It will depends. Technology is a tool. The way that we will use technology, it will affect in a lot of ways to society. It means that if we use technology in a good way, it will affect positively. It is needed a privacy framework and a relationship based in trust.

16.- Will eGov lead us to a big brother surveillance…?
Technology is connecting all of us. Internet of Things will be a good way to test the human capacity to solve this problem. Government should be our protector, but it should not use technology for limitation of citizen rights in this way.

24 October 2012

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