Five Dutch municipalities have decided to fund the development of an open source application that allows citizens to organise their appointments with city services through the internet.
The application is one of the first decisions taken by a co-operative of the cities Amsterdam, Den Haag, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Almere. These are among nine cities that last October began GovUnited, a co-operative to share IT experiences and increase purchasing power. Other cities are expected to join GovUnited in the coming months.
GovUnited just posted a tender for the development of the software program. Peter Douma, who at GovUnited manages the application estimates the web-based application should be ready within the year.
The application 'Op Afspraak' ("consultation by appointment"), should enable citizens to make appointments with any city service department simply by visiting a website, at any time or any place. The application should be cheaper and easier to use than making an appointment by phone, writing a letter or visiting the local service desk.
Douma says the programme will at first handle those services that legally require a citizen to contact the local government. It should also be useful for those who simply want to make an appointment with a local department.
For city councils, the application is expected to reduce queues, ease staff planning and improve contacts with clients. Service departments will have a better idea of how many people will visit them and what these visits are for. Before an appointment is booked, the application should help make sure that expertise needed for a certain service request is available.
According to Douma, the application needs bridge existing calendaring and planning applications and combine these with relevant forms needed for making an appointment. Identification and authentification is handled by DigiD, a system that allows governmental services to authenticate the identity of a person who applies for a transaction service via internet using a login and pincode.
"It will be built with a subsystem to handle information about driving licenses, identity cards, passports, funeral-services and support for service desks of social security departments", says Douma. The application should be able to connect to standard collaboration tools such as Novell Groupwise. Douma says 'Op Afspraak' shows that the five municipalities have a strategic vision. "It makes dealing with the local government more effective, for both parties involved."
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