MAGDA 2.0 platform (MAGDA)

The MAGDA (Maximum Data Sharing between Agencies) Platform provides one common Web services platform

for the Flemish Government’s 190 agencies and 13 departments. MAGDA allows access to authentic sources of citizen and enterprise data, harnessing reusable technologies and applications that can be easily adapted to different government administrations, from the regional to the local level, and increasingly also to the federal level.

As a result, MAGDA allows agencies to deploy new citizen-focused Web-enabled services swiftly and seamlessly, improving service delivery to its citizens. With data centralized and accessible from one place, all communications with citizens are focused and deliberate, minimizing correspondence and duplicate requests for information. Citizens simply have to enter their personal data once and can expect their information to be consistent, up-to-date and complete across all of the agencies with which they interact. The MAGDA platform thus enables once-only data collection via the national eID card, and is the core infrastructure on which the Flemish government can progressively add new services and applications.

Example: Citizens log on to Flemish e-government services and applications using their national electronic ID cards, so that their personal data can be retrieved from the state registry of natural persons. For example, if a citizen is applying for benefits such as a bus pass, the application can automatically retrieve the necessary identity and family composition data, allowing users to complete their tasks quicker and with less red tape.

This information, and more, is available on: http://www.arents.be/documents/MAGDA%20SOA%20platform.pdf

Description of target users and groups

The primary objective of the project was to avoid the unnecessary burdening of citizens and businesses, by repeatedly asking them to supply the same information. The target user groups of the MAGDA platform are thus the different ministries and agencies in Flanders, as the platform has enabled them to improve their service delivery by asking citizens and businesses only once for same information.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The implementation of the MAGDA platform is a joint effort between the regional Flemish government and a private sector company. As such, the government is responsible for the overall strategy, functional design and system architecture, whereas the development itself is outsourced to the private sector.

Technology solution

The development was carried out using proprietary software, however the service interface makes use of open standards (XML, CSV). Furthermore, the platform was developed taking into account local and regional interoperability requirements.

Technology choice: Proprietary technology

Main results, benefits and impacts

The main results, benefits and impacts were:

  • Reducing the administrative burden for citizens and businesses, and improving the service delivery of public administrations.
  • Raising awareness of the importance of data, the re-use of existing data, and the exchange of data.
  • The project has shown the importance of focusing on the back-end (underlying systems and processes), and not only on the front-end (service delivery channels), as previous attempts to create a ‘one stop shop’ portal, neglecting the integration of the back-end, were very complicated and costly.

The reduction in administrative burden for the year 2013 is excepted to be around 97,7 million EUR. 

Return on investment

Return on investment: Larger than €10,000,000

Track record of sharing

There is strong potential to learn from this experience. Belgium has been a real forerunner as regards to the ‘once only principle’, which now ranks highly on the EU political agenda.

Lessons learnt

  • The introduction of a data exchange platform, accessing authentic data sources, requires a step-by-step approach. Consequently, development of data services should focus on key business needs first, and therefore on ‘key data’ that can be easily re-used by numerous administrations.
  • The use of a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) is more than just a technical approach, but a veritable mind-set. When developing a new service, it is critical to respond to customer needs. As a result, different technical means (Web services, FTP) should be offered in order to provide access to data, and the data services should be adapted to the technical capacity of customers. This approach may be more costly but it is critical to adapt the data services offered to the needs and possibilities of clients.
  • Setting up an adequate governance structure proved to be very important, as organisational (e.g. change management) and legal issues (e.g. privacy protection) were greater than technical ones. The MAGDA platform solved this issue by bringing its customers together in an advisory board in order to determine what data services should be developed first.
Scope: Local (city or municipality), National, Regional (sub-national)
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