Now we have statistics for the Generalitat’s social media!

pexels-photo-186461Is it now beyond question that social media is the most accurate way of gauging the needs and concerns of citizens? At the Generalitat we’re convinced so. That’s why, for some time now, we’ve been working on putting the trends seen on social media into statistical form. We want to use them to assess the opinion of citizens about our public services. This will help us make better decisions when it comes to improving and innovating.

In this context, a pioneering project has just been announced to include the data and activity on the Generalitat’s social media accounts in the Annual Statistical Action Programme for 2018 (PAAE 2018). The programme corresponds to a new statistical production and dissemination model that is now common in leading European countries. It also improves access to information, both for citizens in general and for researchers in the social sciences, and promotes the evaluation of public policies.

The reuse of statistical information for scientific purposes has been encouraged with the inclusion of social media data from the Generalitat’s official channels in the PAAE 2018. Researchers in the social sciences have long been demanding access to official and reliable data to analyse the performance of public administrations on social media and their relationship with other public actors (citizens, businesses, organisations, etc.). Now the Generalitat has responded to this demand, thus facilitating a better understanding of and improvements to policies and public services.

In this way, the Generalitat has taken a decisive step towards a new approach with citizens, which is more decentralised and horizontal than the classic more vertical model that has prevailed until now. This is because, by making the data public, citizens themselves can assess whether public services are achieving the objectives for which they exist and decide whether or not to restructure or abolish them.

The PAAE 2018 will take into account variables from three social media platforms:

  1. Twitter. The following will be compiled: published tweets and retweets, retweets and mentions, users who have retweeted and mentioned the corporate accounts, and followers of the corporate accounts.
  2. Facebook. The following will be compiled: published posts, those with a ‘Like’, those shared and the comments posted, users who have ‘Liked’, shared and commented on the corporate account walls, and followers of the corporate accounts.
  3. Gencat blogs. The published posts will be compiled, together with the visits and comments posted, and the users who comment on the entries.

Now, how are these data processed? The General Directorate of Citizens’ Services is the body in charge of collecting them centrally, anonymously and in a standardised manner. It does this automatically through gencatGRAM. This is a new infrastructure that draws data from the Generalitat’s digital citizens’ services channels through an application programming interface (API). GencatGRAM not only provides the data that will be taken into account in the Generalitat’s Annual Statistical Action Programme for 2018, but also feeds the digital services activity website, which is open to all citizens. By linking gencatGRAM to the Generalitat’s official statistics, the General Directorate of Citizens’ Services has raised their requirements to ensure suitable, exhaustive, higher-quality data.

This new model for the collection-processing-dissemination of social media data fosters the empowerment of citizens. However, it must also be read internally, as the main consumer of open government data is the government itself. This means that the corporate accounts of the Generalitat can use this information to improve their presence and learn from other more successful profiles, as well as to find interesting content to share with their audience.

In summary, all this brings us increasingly closer to a citizens’ service based on the principles of open governance, transparency, and critical evaluation by the citizens themselves. Do you think developing and providing standardised descriptions of the Generalitat’s statistical actions on social media mean we are coming closer to the public administration of the future?

Link to DECREE 191/2018 of August 28 ratifying the Annual Statistical Action Programme for 2018.

Towards a society of data and algorithms

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From a device display through to a forum on service innovations. This could well be the concluding assessment of the most recent edition of the Mobile World Congress (MWC18). The event has definitively shifted from being a mobile trade show to a space for considering the uses and objectives that software developments should be aiming at. Indeed, this year it was shown that in the creative process one first needs to think about optimising services for people, and then about the technology that can make this possible.

From this perspective, new features for mobile devices have taken a secondary role to the apps that are expected to improve people’s lives in the very near future. From tele-assistance to 5G-connected medical interventions and even initiatives to eradicate poverty, the fields of healthcare and social services are those that are set to benefit the most from the applied innovations presented at MWC18. Predictive algorithms were also a key feature. A good example of this is the system developed by the UAB Computer Vision Centre to estimate the number of people in large crowds by means of both static and moving images, with a much lower margin for error than has been achieved to date.

The technologies that enable these stellar services on show at MWC18 are no secret: Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT). What do they have in common? On the one hand, their objective: to interconnect objects and humans. And on the other, data; their raison d’être. Because any IoT or artificial intelligence app inevitably needs to collect and analyse data.

It is in this area that public administrations have a fundamental role to play. Which? Probably their most important mission in this respect is to guarantee equal access to data. The idea is that everyone, regardless of their socio-economic situation, is able to use, process and re-use public data in order to innovate in goods and services, take more efficient decisions, and improve all kinds of processes.

In the immediate aftermath of the MWC, which this year was more high-tech than ever, we can confirm that we are embarking on a fourth industrial revolution that will give rise to a society of data and algorithms. Now is the time, therefore, to create spaces for sharing ideas within public organisations which must ensure equal opportunities for accessing this society. For some years now the Government of Catalonia has been implementing a decisive policy to open up data and promote its re-use; and now, almost certainly, its task will be to ensure that open data does not become another digital and social gap.
You are all very welcome to participate and share your own ideas and experiences and how you think public institutions can better promote equality in accessing data.

What should digital government in the EU be like? Send us your ideas!

eu-2293403_960_720On the website, until 21 June, you can post your innovative ideas that could help to draw up the document that will define European Union (EU) policies in this respect.

The Lisbon Council, on behalf of Estonia’s EU Presidency, is preparing a document in the form of a ministerial declaration on the political future of the EU regarding digital government (eGovernment). It is set to be approved by the EU Member States on 6 October this year.

It is an efficient way of gathering all kinds of feedback about the preliminary document that can be sent to the Member States. All you need to do is click on the dialogue box next to each proposal or send an email.

This stems from the realization that the Malmö Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment (2009) has not been as effective in reducing the political distance between citizens and their governments as expected, primarily in terms of trust and participation. Overall, progress has been made in eGovernment: digitalisation of procedures, interoperability, open data (Directive ISP 2013), digital identity and signature (eIDAS Regulation), privacy and data protection (GDPR on personal data protection), electronic invoicing, etc. However, people have not experienced the radical change that was forecast in the Malmö Declaration. For example, the number of European citizens who shop online has increased from 36% to 55%, yet those using public services online have only risen from 18% to 28%.

The proposals for the EU ministerial declaration in October are roughly as follows:

  1. The single-click principle: a digital environment for the whole EU, primary records, interoperability, development of common standards, algorithmic transparency, etc.
  2. Open government: open data by default, open data with higher quality, development of sets of static data for open services (standardized APIs), co-design (co-creation, co-production) in digital services and infrastructures, general participative practices, and global leadership in open government from the EU.
  3. Identity and security: interoperable digital identity systems by 2018 which are also valid for the private sector, attention to technological advances such as blockchain technology, data storage security, and data control by citizens.
  4. Other measures: planning actions and setting specific, measurable and comparable targets; experimenting to produce fast prototypes; implementing cross-border pilot schemes; legislating intelligently based on fast experiences and artificial intelligence; opening up procurement processes to new players; demanding digital skills from management personnel in order to take the right decisions; and others.

The debate is already on the table. Don’t miss this opportunity to put forward the ideas and actions that you believe will guarantee Europe’s digital transformation and get it progressing at the necessary speed.

Be sure to read the Government of Catalonia’s Twitter Manual for Governments!

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Twitter and the Government of Catalonia have jointly published the Twitter Manual for Governments, a reference guide that provides techniques and ideas to help governments and public authorities around the world operate effectively on this social media platform.

The manual offers specific resources for institutional account managers to optimize content and interaction. It explains why a Twitter presence is important and how to draw up a specific communication strategy. It provides answers on what to post, when to tweet, how to interact with the public, how to react to criticism and how to measure effectiveness, among other issues.

Since 2009, the Government of Catalonia has been working to develop a Twitter presence in line with its innovative, multi-channel strategy for public services. Its experience may prove to be of great assistance to other governments. For this reason, the manual describes a number of flagship examples of the Government of Catalonia’s Twitter presence and reflects the model of collaborative and innovative operation organized by its professionals. Thus, the experiences described in the manual are not just intense and educational, but also pioneering.

Read it, share it, reuse it. This manual will help institutional Twitter account managers around the world improve the messages they post.

Ready to put these ideas and resources into practice?