Civil-servants Empowerment for Multi-media Service Delivery ICT (CEMSDI)

Published on: 13/09/2010

CEMSDI is a 24 months pilot project regarding the building of the capacities of civil servants and other practitioners that form part of the service delivery chain in five European territories. It focuses on local areas, so as to empower these practitioners to implement inclusive eGovernment action targeting socially disadvantaged groups, as well as to acquire new skills that improve their competence in the management and use of ICT as a tool for the modernization of their organisations and the delivery of public services..

The combined use of different communication channels to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public and local services addressed to citizens and local business is a key aspect of the project. CEMSDI will carry-out and learn from five specific pilot actions in five EU countries (Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain and UK). These pilot actions mainly address civil servants of local governments serving 8 000 inhabitants or less and shall validate the training and empowerment methodology created by the network of eGovernment experts created within the project. The Digital Local Agenda is the instrument that shall be tuned to reach the project objectives.

Policy Context

The project forms part of the empowerment process of local and regional authorities in Europe launched in 2005 by the EISCO conference (Declaration of Cracow) and further developed in Hameenlinna (EISCO 2007) and Naples (EISCO 2008).

The Digital Local Agenda Manifesto (Hammenlinna) and the European model for the Digital Local Agenda (Naples), were subscribed by top executives and opinion leaders of the main European networks of the different levels of administrations (ELANET, CEMR, eris@,EUROCITIES Knowledge Society Forum, e-FORUM and IT4ALL), underlining the urgent need to create a learning environment at European level for capacity building of civil servants. The said agenda was also adopted by the II World Summit on the Information Society of Cities and Local Governments (Bilbao, November 2005) and by the actual Global Alliance for the Information Society and Development of the United Nations as a key instrument to fight the digital divide in the five continents.

Description of target users and groups

The main beneficiaries of the capacity building and empowerment action delivered by the project are:

  • Civil servants from local/regional governments involved in decision-making and implementation of eGovernment services, that can design and implement inclusive eGovernment on the socially disadvantaged;
  • Civil servants working in decentralized offices, institutes or agencies of the national government that are also related to ICT-enabled public service delivery in local/regional areas (i.e. cadastral units and units dealing with housing problems, job centres, taxation agencies, social services state agencies, agencies focusing on young people or immigration, offices dealing with pensions, chambers of commerce, etc.);
  • Practitioners from associations, agencies, institutes, local networks and enterprises created by local/regional administrations as part of their strategies for governance, service delivery and inclusiveness of people in danger of social and digital exclusion in their territories;
  • Practitioners from SME's and/or non-profit organisations collaborating with these administrations in multi-channel service delivery and/or addressing socially disadvantaged people to help them in using ICT-enabled public and local services, or that have the potentials for this. It is especially the case of sub-contractors of specific services and organisations promoting public services through horizontal subsidiary actions (citizens' organisations helping administrations and their territories to perform, usually in the field of social, cultural and development services).

Description of the way to implement the initiative

By adopting the service solution proposed by CEMSDI users will be able to access a learning environment and a web portal specialised in training and empowerment of civil servants, make use of products and eLearning objects tagged in the repository of the relevant platform, have instruments for assessing their own situation and performance regarding inclusive eGovernment, retrieve guidelines and advise based on good practices in this field and on the results of the five pilot actions envisaged.

By joining the virtual community of practice, civil servants and other users will be able to grow not only in their knowledge and competences regarding management and usage of ICT to improve governance and service delivery, but will also have access to training/empowerment modules or services on inclusion policies towards the socially disadvantaged that allow them to prepare projects, strategies and roadmaps for their own territories, stimulated by a European learning environment and framework where other eGovernment experts collaborate.

Technology solution

In order to achieve the goals of the project, an e-learning platform and an ad hoc WEB portal will be set up. This will be a place where civil servants can share their experiences and best practices, and ask for information and problem solving. The platform will also be the place where the continuity of learning will be granted: next steps for the pilot actions in the learning process will be defined according to the issues emerged in the sharing of knowledge in the forum spaces, and new contents and practices will be developed. Also, in a second phase, a learning path shall be designed through the use of simulation, where civil servants can experience some typical situations and learn through the interaction with the application.

As some of the partners already have their own learning platforms, complete interoperability will be ensured. More specifically, a Moodle based platform will be developed, where every partner can find learning materials and forums for developing communities of practice. Learning materials will be developed with a particular attention to interoperability and accessibility in order to be suitable also for other platforms through the full compliance with the most popular standards such as SCORM and IACC. One of the most significant features of the portal will be an on-line repository where European success stories and lessons learnt will be made available to the learners.

Localisation of the contents will be a particularly important issue as civil servants working in small local administrations will obviously need to work in their own languages, but the training models and the main issues to be dealt with should be as homogeneous as possible across the different pilots.

Technology choice: Standards-based technology

Main results, benefits and impacts

The main features of the project are:

  • a network of eGovernment experts from different European countries, which have been pulled together by the Consortium partners and the European networks supporting the initiative, to create a common framework and learning environment in which the training and empowerment activities are planned and implemented;
  • a community of practice that will be formed during the lifetime of the project to bring together the human capital dealing with eCapacity Building in the public sector accross Europe (and worldwide), integrate their experiences and build new initiatives that bring forward the methodology developed by the CEMSDI pilot actions, customising relevant techniques, products and instruments to their own territories;
  • a core group of organisations from countries that have launched Digital Local Agenda processes, which shall be responsible for the scientific and technical coordination of the CEMSDI solution;
  • a cluster of innovation ICT-based centres specialised in eLearning and content provision for multi-media training and empowerment services. They shall be invited to look at the solution proposed by CEMSDI and to join the community of practice for further development and integrations of product/services and research work in this area
  • five pilot sites in Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain and the UK where the CEMSDI methodologies and instruments will be implemented, assess and validated;
  • a cluster of potential users/countries for the future implementation of the CEMSDI solution after the project end that will participate from the beginning in the process of integrating the different experiences and methodologies into a common instrument and in assessing its implementation and results through the validating pilots;
  • a relevant manual with guidelines for implementation of capacity building and empowerment actions regarding governance and the use of ICT in order to simplify and adapt the experience gained for new initiatives. The Manual shall also contain good practices in this field identified throughout Europe and possible strategies and roadmaps for take-up;
  • a set of relevant policy recommendations for the national associations of local and regional governments and for their European networks drawing on the development of the Digital Local agenda as tool for empowerment of civil servants;
  • a web-portal of the project supporting CEMSDI and its community of practice, in collaboration with other important European hubs, such as the ePractice portal (that will be used for this purpose after a relevant agreement) and the broadband portal managed by the network eris@.
  • 1a coordination team with the necessary expertise in managing the complexity of European projects involving pilot actions and networking and that shall survive the lifetime of the project for follow-up implementation.

Lessons learnt

The CEMSDI project has been implemented a few months ago and, as a result, it is early to make a list of lessons learnt.

Scope: International