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Article December 4th, 2023

by Nortal

What living in a people-centric digital state means

Digital transformation and citizen participation may seem like a reach for countries at the starting line. Consider how many bloated, bumbling bureaucracies you’ve probably navigated to access public services—it might seem like a stretch. But it’s possible! And necessary, when citizens demand more from the governments they fund.

People-centered processes that encourage citizen participation in government—government of, by, and for people, in other words—is a policy choice. And it’s one that new pioneering govtech is making easier to commit to in the modern era.

But what exactly does this look like in practice?

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A seamless day from start to finish

Let’s fast-forward a few years into the future—2035, let’s say. You wake up to notifications prompting you about the state of your city right away. Useful updates, to boot: perhaps road work has begun near your home; on top of simply being informed of the construction, you’re prompted with suggestions regarding the most efficient transportation options available. This prompts you to perhaps take an environmentally-friendly mode of transport—aligning you as a citizen with your city’s commitment to green goals.

As your day unfolds, easy interactions with the government form a bedrock part of your routine. For example, the school year is starting back up, and it’s time to enroll your youngest child in the system. Your local government might prompt you with proactive notifications about available kindergarten spots—the system anticipating your needs.

But participatory democracy is about more than just your individual day—it’s about how you interact with your wider community. That means active citizen participation in the details of government, too. New govtech makes it easy.

Say, for example, you receive a notification of a draft bill or piece of legislation that you don’t have time to read in full. A bureaucratic virtual assistant might summarize the document and present you with a simple, condensed version, making it easy for you to give informed feedback.

Right now, so much of a person’s day is spent trying to figure out how to navigate the system—and often, work around the accidental roadblocks it sets up. But a people-centered government takes the opposite approach, simplifying itself to work for you. That way, you, as a citizen, have more time to live your life on your terms.

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Making citizen participation easy

Estonia has led the way on this path to digital participatory democracy. At the center of their effort the government’s single digital gateway, eesti.ee, is working to address every citizen’s needs.

A user-friendly digital hub, eesti.ee is the gate to Estonia’s digital state. The service is the key to a state that offers proactive services organized around life events, driving the various citizen participation initiatives outlined earlier. It’s your personal bureaucratic virtual assistant—your individual key to government, right in the palm of your hand.

Estonia’s journey to personalized government hinges on prioritizing and empowering individuals. A thoughtful blend of technology, citizen engagement, and proactive services integrates government seamlessly into your daily life—putting citizens in the driver’s seat when it comes to their community.

How can you achieve the same?

Estonia’s leading the way on this digital, people-centered transformation—and governments elsewhere should take notes. We’ve presented eesti.ee as an example of the Estonian approach. Originally designed as an information portal detailing governmental workings, it’s since evolved into a fourth-gen digital gateway embodying the state’s commitment to user-friendly experiences.

Estonia also embraces the once-only principle for data logging. It’s as simple as it sounds—citizens provide data just once to access all public services, reducing redundancy and tightening control over data governance.

Imagine your interactions with the state as a marketplace in which private and public sectors seamlessly integrate to provide optimal services—from locking in a kindergarten spot to offering legislative feedback.

Citizens take center stage, actively participating in shaping policies and services that impact their lives. Digital transformation isn’t a distant concept—it’s intricately woven into the fabric of daily life. The government guides every road you navigate, family decisions you make, and societal change you engage with.

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Rethinking how public services work

Personal government is a vision that considers the next stage of already developed digital societies to provide more human-centric public services, considering the complexities where traditional digital government approaches do not necessarily provide a straightforward solution.

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