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Short description / Current status and future steps / Lessons learned:
= Case description =
The Citizen Spot is a multiservice physical counter where a specialized mediator assists citizens in accessing a portfolio of online public services and further teaches them how to perform it autonomously thereafter. The digital services provided are essentially those already available on various online platforms and on the ePortugal.gov.pt, but that citizens may not feel confident using by themselves, ranging from civil registration documents to the request of the European Health Insurance Card, land registry with the Tax Authority, social security and tax services, and so on.
At the moment there are 572 of these Spots spread nationwide, but not only, each one of them delivering 255 public services. They’re located in the Portuguese biggest cities, as well as in the most remote areas of the country, but also in Brussels, Paris, and São Paulo.
All the existing service counters of the Spots are equipped with a double computer screen system. One screen is to be used by the mediator and the other one is for the citizen to be able to see everything that is being done by the mediator. This system allows the citizens to follow and learn the steps being taken by a trained mediator, empowering them to overcome the digital divide and fully take advantage of all the digital government services and benefits.
The vast network of the Citizen Spots has been enlarged in the last years, and its concept has also been evolving. Alongside with the traditional Citizen Spots model, now there’s also the Mobile Citizen Spot (MCS) and the Solidarity Citizen Spot (SCS). The first one is basically a Spot assembled on a van that travels to remote areas taking the initiative to the most inhospitable places, while the SCS visits daycare centers, nursing homes and residential structures for the elderly. The SCS is nothing more than a mobile kit, constituted by a computer and a print, operated by a trained mediator who is expected to visit the abovementioned facilities in a regular way in order to engage and empower a group that is normally neglected when talking about Information and Communications Technology (ICTs).
With the Citizen Spots, Portugal is fighting digital exclusion. The population is now more engaged in the use of digital services and also more aware of its benefits, which in turn reflects in a greater reliance and trust in the State, as the provider of those services.
Also, the Administrative Modernization Agency (AMA) is the central authority coordinating the project, but local authorities have the responsibility of managing most of the Spots, so the initiative reinforced a collaboration dynamic between central and local authorities. And apart from the daily management of the Spots, since the services provided are the responsibility of several different entities (Tax, Social Security, Registries, etc), the initiative also has a significant role breaking silos, and enabling the coordination between these different authorities. They had to find a way of integrating their services in an interoperable way, which they did.