GovWorks Netherlands (GovWorks)

Published on: 25/11/2007
Govworks offers expertise in centrally managed internet sites and information on digital screens. We make information accessible to everyone through using the latest technology, a unique and specially developed system employing the simultaneous use of pictograms and other media. The system can be used by the functionally illiterate, handicapped people, the elderly and immigrants.

Policy Context

It has long been recognised that one of the main barriers people faced in using internet as their main source of information is that it is too difficult in usage and organisations do not help resolving this gap. This is particularly the case in the Netherlands where municipalities struggled and still struggle in communicating with their audiences. Many times a person would have to visit more than one information point to get fully informed and served. These processes are time consuming and therefore considered difficult and non-transparent. GovWorks provides online and off-line solutions that are very accessible and provide a very long range of information in a short period of time, using pictograms, animations, and multilingual simple texts to guide people in there search for information. We implement, host and maintain everything so that we can offer complete solutions for our clients. Our goal is to make processes see through and increase independence of our client’s clients.

Description of target users and groups

Nearly 20% of the Dutch population is of immigrant origin. Over the last 20 years, the Dutch population has become more diverse. This obliges large organisations to communicate with a range of cultures. 15% of the Dutch population has some kind of handicap. Despite this, about 15% of people in the Netherlands live with some kind of disability. This means that many people find it difficult to access public services. 25% of the Dutch population is over 55. 10%-15% of the Dutch population is functionally illiterate.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

Entrepreneurial! GovWorks is a limited company with a Chief Executive Operations and a stakeholder group, used as a sounding board to run past proposals and to foster support for key initiatives. The CEO works together with the sales and marketing manager, a creative director and a project manager. Every 2 weeks there is a management meeting. The CEO and the stakeholders meet every three months.

Technology solution

The technology used for developing and implementing the case are based on open-source/standards. Technology is changing quickly, and to keep up with all new technologies GovWorks has chosen to use open source/standards for software development. GovWorks is using the follow technologies in developing and implementing the case: - Java/ JSP - XML - (X)HTML/ CSS - MMbase MMbase a content management system (CMS)is build in Java, and uses open standards for information exchange (XML) and storage. Perhaps the most important characteristic of MMBase is that it is platform independent. Technology choice: Proprietary technology, Standards-based technology

Main results, benefits and impacts

In more than 150 municipalities we have implemented applications that support civilians in their search for information concerning national, regional and local government. We pay special attention to the needs of special target groups in order to stimulate usage of the internet among these groups. Our applications are used by hundreds of thousands of people in the Netherlands every year. These figures are continuously growing, for many municipalities are recognising the importance of effective communication with target groups that are in need of special attention and care. The methodology developed and used by GovWorks focuses on the needs and demands of the target groups instead of the supply from the market. From start to finish the system requires only three steps. The navigation structure is ‘live event’ based and the language(s) used is (are) low level and to the point.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

Over the last 3 years GovWorks put a lot of time and effort in achieving and maintaining a good and solid brand name in its market. Our efforts are being recognised and adapted by a growing number of municipalities in the Netherlands. So far, in 2007 we have tripled the amount of projects compared to 2006.

Lessons learnt

Lesson 1 - Engage with users through market research to ensure your service meets their needs. Lesson 2 - Internet can be for everyone. Lesson 3 - For many organisations eAccessibility is not a short term necessity for its value can not be expressed by short term economical reasons. Scope: National