Sofia Municipality is in the Alpha Phase of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Digital Innovation Initiative
The Sofia team continues the regular consultations with the experts from FutureGov – a UK-based change agency that provides Sofia with technical assistance as part of the city’s participation in the Digital Innovation Initiative 2020-2022. The Initiative aims to help European cities deliver high-impact digital services, and share lessons learned with cities around the rest of the world.
The Digital Innovation Initiative will take place over a 2-year period and consists of 4 phases. In mid-October we completed the first phase of the 2-year project – Discovery, and started to work on the second, Alpha phase.
Innovative Sofia and Sofia Green coordinate Sofia’s participation in the project and work with FutureGov to deliver services transformation, focused on Life Events. We are also working with internal departments of the Sofia Municipality to secure the validation of the ideas and to promote the need for a new way of designing and delivering services to the citizens and the business.
Life Event – Based Services
The term ‘life event-based services’ stands for a series of administrative services started up by a particular event in a citizen’s life. This can be the birth of a child, buying a property, marriage or divorce, change of citizenship, etc. Such events usually lead to a series of occasions for citizens to seek services from the city or the state administration.
By using life events as an organising strategy we aim to achieve better resident-centred services; improved efficiency of municipal processes and systems, and additional capabilities developed within the municipality.
OUR JOURNEY SO FAR
During Discovery our team focused on understanding how organising services based on Life Events might work for Sofia as a whole. We formulated and started exploring our hypothesis that by digitising redesigned resident-facing services and categorising them by ‘Life Events’ we will improve residents’ awareness of, access to and experience of using such services, and will achieve an improved relationship between residents and the local municipality
After initial consultations and interviews, the life event ‘Moving to or within Sofia’ was chosen as the focus area as it is both a focus of interest for many citizens (and gives access to many potential research participants), and covers a large number of municipal services.
We carried out extensive research including desk research and 37 in-depth interviews with citizens and municipal colleagues. We discovered 4 key areas to explore further across a range of services: 1. Awareness of services, 2. Investigation of what to do and how, 3. Preparation to access service, and 4. Access to services.
In the Alpha phase we needed to further narrow our focus down to a particular service, as it would allow us to better understand the entire citizen journey, and to identify what is needed to scale life events in other service areas.
We started looking more specifically at ‘Address Registration’. As a compulsory service, ‘Address Registration’ (current or permanent) is an area that citizens in general seem to lack awareness about. The service is available online, although our Discovery phase findings suggested not many people were aware of this and some people perceived the procedure as complicated.
In this phase, FutureGov are leading the Sofia team through a design process to:
- Better understand the service: the overall processes, the experience of the citizens and the administration related to registering a new address, and the opportunities for change and
- To develop solutions to address these opportunities. We are at the stage where we are using what we know about the service to come up with ideas that we can start to test
Alpha is the phase where the concepts and assumptions developed in the discovery phase are being tested; different designs are being quickly iterated, cases for potential impact are being developed together with a plan for how to progress further. The focus of this phase is not testing how the ideas work, but which ideas are worth carrying toward the next phase – Beta.
Look out for our next blog next week, where we will give an update on what we’re learning and the ideas we are currently testing in Alpha!