Digital City Maturity benchmark

The story of building future global cities

As you are probably reading this on your laptop, tablet or in the rare cases a paperback, you have realized that increasing digitization is a change that affects our lives and is present in various ways. Every change offers opportunities as well as threats and the City of Amsterdam was quick in realizing so. But how can a city best organize itself to serve the citizens optimally in a digitizing society?

Digital inclusion and citizen participation

In order to answer the question above, our GovLab team engaged in a project with the Municipality of Amsterdam focusing on two societal aspects especially relevant for the city council: (Digital) inclusion of all citizens, and citizens participation and democracy. The Municipality of Amsterdam has asked the Deloitte GovLab NL team to research the following questions:

  • How mature are Amsterdam and other cities in dealing with both the positive and the negative effects of digitization in the city?
  • What are some best practices on digital inclusion and participation? 

Key findings of the project

By using Deloitte’s GovLab digital maturity model, the team measured to what extent the building blocks of a city are set up in a way that helps a city to navigate the (social) consequences of a digitizing society, both positively and negatively. On a scale from 1-5, all the participating cities in this study scored between the contender (3) and top performer (4), albeit all with their own strengths and challenges. In a nutshell, here are the key lessons learned: 

  1. Successful citizen participation requires a combination of both offline channels and online tools;
  2. (Digital) inclusion can be stimulated using a city’s network of public places;
  3. City organizations can often learn from and collaborate with the private sector on working in a user-centric way;
  4. A clear vision and a coherent strategic plan are important factors for successful digital transformation;
  5. Top leadership advocacy of the digital agenda accelerates the speed of change in the city;
  6. Collaboration with the national government helps to set standardization and scale digital solutions.

View the insights

Maturity benchmark

A personal adventure

For most people January can be a slow month that seems to last forever, but it certainly was not for Aleksandra Arsova, a consultant within the Deloitte GovLab team. She and her team have been working on this benchmarking study for the municipality of Amsterdam where they compared its digital maturity to 6 other global cities and extracted lessons learned from their best practices. 

After conducting a large number of interviews with top city officials from Casablanca, Cascais, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Tallinn, Tel Aviv, and Amsterdam itself, the team extracted valuable insights and spotted interesting projects in few of the cities that led to investigate the matter even further.

First, they visited Tallinn where they experienced a totally digitized society covered in snow, and full of friendly faces. The medieval spirit of the town is still prevalent even though their way of living has become extremely modern: 99% of Estonian public services are available online and citizens can real-time track who, how, and for what purpose their data is being used. All of this has been made possible by a very effective software integration layer called X-road. On top of this, citizens can use the AvaLinn app in order to participate in the process of reshaping the public spaces.

The following week the team wandered a bit more south – all the way to Tel Aviv. In Tel Aviv they experienced firsthand how this city uses a customized approach to activate its citizens. Based on their preferences and offers, Tel Avivians enjoy free benefits through the use of a simple application called DigiTel.

For their final stop a few days later, the team visited the capital of Finland. In Helsinki, the team were surprised by the well-organized city at the heart of a welfare state. A lot was learned about how Helsinki serves its citizens and aims to be ‘the most functional city’ in the world. They use a very inclusive feedback system and is improving the use of physical space in the city via a digital space-sharing service.

“We met a lot of Deloitte colleagues in all of these offices, so if you would like to know more about smart cities in these parts of the world, reach out and I will make sure to hook you up with colleagues who are ready to help” said Aleksandra at the end of the project. “I am confident that the project was a huge success, and as a result we are planning on bringing some of the participating cities together to the Deloitte Digital Summit in the Copenhagen, and see if we can spark collaboration based on our study.”

From here on

The report that has been produced together with the case studies, will be used as an input for the digital agenda of the City of Amsterdam. So, be on the scout for a more digital, fun, inclusive, and better Amsterdam in the years to come!

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