Check out the recording and supporting slides for the webinar Location Enabled Public Services
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Structure of the presentation
- Location enablement: context and definitions
- Opportunities and challenges for the public sector
- Location enabled public services demonstrated: deep dive into case studies
- Key takeaway messages and conclusions
Summary of the webinar
The webinar on location-enabled public services focused on demonstrating a growing momentum of location-enabled public services by exploring the context, opportunities and challenges for the public sector.
The webinar on location-enabled public services focused on demonstrating the growing momentum of location-enabled public services by exploring the context, opportunities and challenges for the public sector.
On the one hand, data availability, volunteered information, and improved processes provide unprecedented opportunities for public services. On the other hand, we see that data maturity, interoperability and other challenges must be addressed.
To best demonstrate these trends, the webinar started with the context and definitions of location enablement. The presentation started by defining location data and linking it to location enablement. Location enablement is about “getting access to and integrating location data and information to improve processes”.
To demonstrate such growing momentum, the following elements were highlighted:
- that most public sector information already has a spatial component and
- the potential that the spatial/location dimension has in deriving new insights, tools, services and improving those that already exist.
By adding some policy context, focusing mainly on Digital Europe and a technical context, explaining the relevance of Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs) and other existing and emerging assets, it was demonstrated that the necessary tools for location enablement are already there.
Second, the webinar highlighted the public sector’s opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, there is potential to improve services, increase efficiency, enable collaboration and engage more with the public. On the other hand, to get there, it is crucial to consider the need for open data, standards and interoperability, trust, privacy & data protection, and strengthening the technical capabilities of the public sector to realise the ambition of location-enabled public services.
Third, the webinar provided concrete use cases for the audience to better understand what location-enabled public services may look like in practice. First, brief examples were given for a few sectors: transport, construction & urban planning, social services and environment. Then, the presenters moved on to two in-depth case studies.
The first case study presented was “Locally volunteered data for better services: the case of FixMyStreet”. FixMyStreet is an open-source software that allows citizens (at the local, regional or national level) to report problems and automatically forwards the report to the relevant authority to fix the problem. It was built by a not-for-profit social enterprise to develop digital technologies that help people be active citizens.
The FixMyStreet case was selected because it demonstrates the opportunities to employ a collaborative approach and user-centric design. It is an example of a case engaging the public, increasing efficiency and delivering cost savings, and providing a service in which location data is relevant, available, and brings added value.
The second case study presented was “Open data for better public services in practice: Transport for London (TfL)”. The case study provides a prime example of how publishing open data creates a virtuous circle that benefits those using and delivering transport networks in the Capital Transport. A Deloitte study from 2017 on TfL was used as the primary source of information. In 2007, TfL made available their data as Open data to be freely used, re-used, and redistributed by anyone to support operational service improvements, increased transparency and innovation, and the development of new customer-facing products and services. The intention was to challenge existing ways of working.
The Transport for London (TfL) case illustrates in concrete terms some key success factors of location-enabled public services and how public-private partnership can lead to significant improvements of services for all stakeholders involved. It was highlighted that the collaborative approach between public and private stakeholders resulted in access to new (citizen-generated) data. The ecosystem has led to increased efficiency, substantial cost savings, improved service quality and added value for all stakeholders (private, public, citizens).
Key messages and conclusions
To conclude, four messages were highlighted. Namely:
- There is growing momentum for the uptake of location-enabled public services due to their availability and potential to improve existing services and products and boost new ones.
- To meet the needs of tomorrow, collaborative approaches to design and user-centricity are fundamental. To achieve this, the correct prioritisation and performance indicators must be applied.
- By capitalising on the availability of data, software, hardware, volunteered information and processes, there are significant collaborative opportunities, cost efficiencies and service quality improvements to be made.
- There is a need to improve interoperability between services and across borders, improve data maturity, focus on trust, privacy & protection in policy, and strengthen technical capacities to minimise the gaps in the local, regional, national, and cross-border contexts.
The link between location interoperability, digital transformation and innovation was an overarching theme throughout the webinar. Location interoperability was highlighted both as part of the context of SDIs and existing tools for location enablement across public services but also as a key challenge to overcome. It was emphasised that standards and interoperability remain a key challenge and a necessary tool to capitalise on current opportunities. The index from the Location Interoperability Framework Observatory’s 2020 report was presented to show the maturity level of location interoperability.
 Vandenbroucke, D., Vancauwenberghe, G., Boguslawski, R. and Pignatelli, F., Design of location-enabled e-government services, EUR 30220 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2020, ISBN 978-92-76-18939-8, doi:10.2760/860082, JRC119730.
 Deloitte, “Assessing the value of TfL’s open data and digital partnerships,” (2017).