Archive for the ‘CiRM’ Category

ISPRAT Studie zum 115 Bürgertelefon verfügbar

Samstag, Dezember 15th, 2007

Seit heute liegt die Studie des ISPRAT Instituts zu einer einheitlichen, behördenübergreifenden Servicerufnummer (115 Bürgertelefon) zum download bereit. Ich bin gespannt auf die Kommentare und das Echo in der Presse.

Options for Government N-1-1 non-emergency public service solutions / Behördenrufnummer 115

Dienstag, Dezember 11th, 2007

The move to establish an easy to remember number (311) for non-emergency government services has lately gained attention around the globe. There are now initiatives underway in Germany (D115) and the UK (101). After 10 years, more and more counties and cities decide to start 311 projects. Yet 311 is far from being available for the whole population in the U.S. if we consider an earlier post of mine (map of U.S./Canadian 311 service center projects). In order to discuss the alternative or future options of 311 I will first take a look at the general options a government can follow to establish the phone as public service delivery channel. Part I will present the five options. The combination of performance management and service centers is mostly excluded to reduce complexity. The models are based on a country with a federal government structure. Part II which will be added in a couple of days will discuss the future of 311 and issues such as performance management.

The central approach
At first glance it is probably the easiest way to set up a central service center for any government. This can be a single, big service center or a number of service centers which are virtually connected. In Figure 1 below a service-center that covers more than one level of government (either of the same level e.g. several cities or several cities and a county) is called “Regional Service Center”. The core aspect of this concept is the central character: Governance, finance (e.g. federal budget) and data bases. While centrality makes many things like setting standards or reducing redundancies easy, data bases are the central challenge of this approach. Not the technology but rather the content. Just gathering and maintaining the data from all levels of governments sounds like a goal that is either unrealistic (if we consider the principle of subsidiarity in a federal state which is many times protected by the constitution) or never ending. Moreover, if we think of the way 311 is used as a tool for performance management and tapping into the local knowledge of citizens there is challenge on how this data gets redistributed to the right sources.


Figure 1: The Central Approach

The 311 approach
I am not going into much detail here. An advantage of 311 is that it avoids the political battles of a central approach or the move to start with a multi-jurisdictional approach. Figure 2 shows the current situation in the U.S. We have mostly 311 centers on the local level. They may have information on higher jurisdictions in their data bases but they are generally not fully integrated in the service value chain. A few Regional Service Centers can be found already. For example, Miami-Dade County has integrated the City of Miami. 34 cities have not been integrated yet. The challenge of administrators in Miami-Dade derives from budget constraints (property tax issue) or the regulatory environment. An additional challenge is to come up with finance and service level agreements that result in benefits for both sides and a sustainable service to the citizens. As one administrators once pointed out to me: “Setting up the call center and data base is easy. Changing the integrated administrations (departments) and preparing them for the change in citizens’ expectation is the real challenge”. Finally, Figure 2 also points to two further issues of this approach. First, 311 results in a lot of isolated and many times redundant relationships (either data or other form of agreements). Second, it is difficult to realize country wide accessibility. Less populated areas, therefore, the municipalities will lack the financial and HR capacity to realize 311 on their own.


Figure 2: The 311 Approach

The Central/311 Hybrid approach
This model (Figure 3) is generally a combination of the central and the 311 approach. Certain information and services that are provided by higher jurisdictions (here: State/Federal) are managed and available from a central unit/access point. This avoids some of the redundancies of the 311 approach. Regional and local service centers may develop at different speeds and provide varying degrees of services. Therefore, political battles are less likely to come up as would be the case in the central model. Service centers are not exchanging their local data or services with other service centers.


Figure 3: The Central/311 Hybrid Approach

The Networked Approach
The networked approach generally builds on most of the components described in the 311 model. The core difference is that all of the service centers build a network. Information is shared widely while each service center integrates government entities based on its needs or plans. Figure 4 shows the complexity of the network and the probability of creating highly redundant activities and relationships. In order for the network to function all members need to establish some form of governance to solve issues of standards and coordination.


Figure 4: The Networked Approach

The Multi-centric Approach
The Multi-centric approach combines aspects of the central, 311 and network approach. It characteristics of a central approach because there are central units/db which provide information/services/coordination for a certain subset of service-centers within one “center”. The service centers can evolve at different speeds and service-depths. They can be local or regional service centers. Therefore, the multi-centric approach starts like the current 311 activities. However, there is a core difference. Within one “center” the service centers are supposed to coordinate their efforts. In addition, there is a central unit (see top left of Figure 5) which coordinates and supports (e.g. good practice sharing, etc.) the overall efforts of all the “centers” and the service centers. Finally, the multi-centric approach also adopts the idea of the network approach. Each center shares information/services with other centers.


Figure 5: The Multi-centric Network Approach

The multi-centric model is currently the favored approach for the introduction of the project “D115 Behördentelefon / Behördeneinheitliche Rufnummer” in Germany.

Schäuble erhält Studie zum Behördentelefon 115

Montag, Dezember 10th, 2007

Im Rahmen des IT-Gipfels wurde Bundesinnenminister Wolfgang Schäuble die Studie des ISPRAT Instituts zu D-115 übergeben.

Government CRM - Citizen Relationship Management

Donnerstag, Dezember 6th, 2007

While CRM has been researched and applied in private enterprises for years, it has only recently gained attention as a concept for government. Concurrent with the emergence of eGovernment and the general tendency of transferring more and more business concepts into the government domain, articles and studies started to address the topic. Many articles on eGovernment briefly address CRM when referring to aspects such as one-stop government or a multi-channel environment directly or indirectly. Besides CRM, authors introduce slightly altered terms like Citizen Relationship Management (CiRM), Constituent Relationship Management (CRM), Public Relationship Management (PRM) or Citizen Encounter and Relationship Management (CERM) to underline its government orientation and application.

Private sector CRM literature is highly fragmented and lacks a common conceptualization (Zablah/Bellenger/Johnston 2004). It is, therefore, somewhat unsurprising to find the same characteristics in its application to government. Truly sarcastic oberserves might say “garbage in, garbage out”. The literature on CiRM currently lacks a common definition, conceptualization and set of goals. I define Citizen Relationship Management (CiRM) as,

a strategy and set of management practices, enabled by technology with a broad citizen focus, to maintain and optimize relationships and encourage new forms of citizen participation.

Most articles on CiRM review private sector CRM, technological aspects (CRM systems) and expected benefits in government. There is a general agreement that many aspects of CRM are not sector-specific. However, they need to be translated into the context of each sector. Customer segmentation can serve administrators to identify those needing help or who are about to do so. Customer retention strategies can be directed at preventing citizen’s from using a service again. Yet, the termination of unprofitable customers, data mining, broadening the service range and thus choice, the issue of externalities or conceptualizing the citizen as customer are believed to be harder to transfer to government.

Another issue is that term CiRM is applied to describe any citizen-focused initiative or interaction. For instance, public service provision through an online portals are presented as successful CiRM projects. Administrators struggle with the lack of knowledge on CRM, in addition to their discomfort with CRM terminology. Public administrations, which claim to engage in CiRM, connect it to single customer service initiatives, online portals, electronic case management, call centers, physical one-stop service centers and CRM software. However, the literature offers little to no insights into organizational, cultural or process related changes in CiRM initiatives in terms of a holistic understanding of CRM.

King (2007) analyzed the results of the British CRM Pathfinder program (2001-02) and the CRM National Programme (2003-04). The majority of CRM projects focussed on adding CRM capabilities to call centers and one-stop shops. Participating municipalities can be in different stages of a proposed CRM development path which do not build upon each other. Therefore, a contact center and multi-channel environment may be realized without the changes towards a customer centric organization. In addition, there was little evidence for citizen analytics (segmentation, needs analysis), organizational changes (bridging departmental silos) or true multi-channel access. Janssen and Wagenaar (2002) found similar results and concluded that Dutch CiRM efforts are in an “embryonic stage”. Along these lines, in their survey of the status quo of CRM in German public administration, Bauer, Grether and Richter (2002) reported that the CRM elements implemented are far from meeting the holistic concept of CRM. Per-sonalization and a closer analysis of commonly used public services are frequent practices, while segmentation or profitability analyses remain untested concepts. Among the biggest barri-ers to exploring CRM, German administrations mention their lack of human resources and time constraints. In the United States, CiRM is mostly connected to 311 non-emergency number call center initiatives and innovations such as the performance management concept CITISTAT.

Based on some of these facts, I strongly recommend making sure to come up with a clear definition and concept of CiRM before communicating it throughout the organization and attempting an implementation.CiRM is more than a contact center and it is also different to eGovernment although both can certainly enrich each other.

The connected citizen

Samstag, Juli 7th, 2007

The internet made us more powerful as well as making us more transparent. We have access to information anytime, anyplace. We can find, motivate or join like minded people to create something or influence a third party. We also leave our trails on blogs, social networking platforms, newsgroups or buying online. Governments and citizens alike can benefit from this trend.

Hierarchical government structures are the dominant model for public service delivery and meeting public policies. Although desired outcomes are mostly realized, this set-up turns out to have various downsides. Results are a silo like, inward-looking culture, slow decision making, change awareness or knowledge diffusion. While the latter also led to an institutionalized disconnect from citizens it can cause system failures when information and decision making transcends organizational and jurisdictional boundaries. Hurricane Katrina, the Avian Flu, various non-prevented terrorist attacks are such representative cases.

In addition, public administration has become continuously more complex. Economic, social, political and technological developments in the past decades have lead to a growth of the administrative apparatus, its size, power and obligations. Market-based reforms have optimized agency operations and privatized public services through contracting-out (i.e. Public Private Partnerships) or completely conferring them to the private sector. Hence, public managers and policy makers have to work within a sphere of multiple stakeholders and understand interdependent relationships for service provision, regulation and policy making. Knowing whom to hold accountable and a general understanding of this complex system is important for legislators as well as for citizen.

What can governments do?

1. Access
2. Dialogue
3. Transparency
4. Internal change

Governments need to provide access to its services and information by the latest channels (i.e. counter, call center, web portal). Additionally, pervasive municipal WLANs are part of the idea. However, access also means share as much data as possible that was kept within the organization in the past. It is important however to structure and phrase internal information when giving citizens access as they might not be accustomed to the terms, language or procedures. In general, constituents can come up with creative ways of adding value to that data by analyzing or linking it with other information. Google Maps mash-ups like Chicago crime watch are a good example. At the same time it is important that citizens can share their information with their government and fellow constituents.

Dialogues help governments to understand the emotional, social, cultural and government contexts that shape citizens experiences. In an iterative dialogue of equals people can learn from each other. Governments are doing this through focus groups, neighbourhood councils and the like. A centralized call center and number like 311 make it easier for citizens to start that dialogue. In the future, governments could also provide platforms where citizens and governments can form a network on government related topics. Many times though governments cooperated symbolically (Etzioni 1958: 261) usually causing citizens realizing the lack of impact returning to passivity.

By sharing internal knowledge or allowing citizens to track their public services governments create a lot of transparency. In fact they governments loose a level of control while at the same time adding value by decreasing their burden through information requests, using citizen’s input to improve internal efficiency, eliminating gate-keepers or changing daily management. Let’s take the impact of New York’s 311 implementation for example. If any engineer, architect or builder wanted to meet with a DOB building inspector, which was necessary to begin a project, they would have to use the services of an expediter, a person whose job it was to interact with City employees and to facilitate the permitting and inspection process. Each of these expediters had a relationship with an employee in the DOB. As such they were gate-keepers. Typically, expediters would book numerous appointments each day in case they were hired; they would then cancel appointments at the last minute if they did not need them. A building inspector would therefore have his calendar full for several weeks in the future, meaning that anyone not using an expediter would be forced to wait weeks for an appointment. Transparency combined with better access changed this. Now citizens are randomly assigned to an inspector so that nobody can maintain special relationships. Expediters are no longer useful or necessary. The inspectors are working at full capacity and have to meet certain performance criteria (i.e. response time, closing time).

Finally, internal change is necessary to provide an environment and infrastructure to make the above happen. Sustainable, top-level political leadership is one of the key success factors.

Cross boundary collaboration and eGovernment: PNG Working Paper

Samstag, Februar 10th, 2007

Administrative and political leadership need to use their growing understanding of
eGovernment to come up with strategies that help them crossing the boundary between organizatonal units for better collaboration and coordination. My PNG working paper “Crossing the boundary - Why putting the e in Government is the easy part” reviews the current status of eGovernment projects and research from around the globe and offers additional insights in how to overcome these challenges.


Figure: Modified Gartner eGovernment Hype Cycle

Government Social Software - SNS in Japan Part IV: Connecting the cases to the literature

Donnerstag, Februar 1st, 2007

Today’s post ends my entry series on the use of local Social Networking Services by Japanese municipal governments.

Even without knowing the respective research and terms interviewees made the correct assumptions about social networks or tell stories reflecting results of social networks and social support in disaster literature. Drawing for example on the narrative of the family that was helped by many strangers after a the mother of a sons friend (weak tie) wrote about their flooded house in her “Gorotto Yatchiro” blog which supports Granovetter’s weak tie and Burt’s structural hole role in non routine activities (2004; 1983). Those interviewees who joined the local SNS found new friends on the platform and expanded their social network as concluded by Tindall and Wellman (2001). Furthermore, Soiga NPO is a great example how an organization, once brought into existence for one set of purpose (environmental activities), can also aid others for different purposes described by Coleman, thus constituting social capital available for use (1988). The NPO’s blogs were considered a trusted source and can provide an alternative to the mass media which is regarded by many individuals as a more credible source of risk information than government (McComas, 2001). A centralized approach to the provision and publication of local information might not be fine-grained enough to cater to the viral and capillary spread of word-of-mouth information anyway. This informal interaction can only be supported by recognizing the peer-to-peer nature of local interaction which is distinct from the conventional many-to-many, few-to-many, or one-to-many broadcast nature of other online interaction (Foth, 2006). In the past this role was taken by neighbourhood organizations which are already impacted by demographic and cultural change (young generations are not really interested in joining).
Finally, if the majority of the population would be represented on local SNS platform, sociograms could provide snapshots of networks and interaction structures. From these types of diagrams government and citizens can visually identify emergent positrons and clusters of interaction. By examining these patterns of mediated and unmediated interaction they could gain an added perspective on communication structures that underpin explicit community processes as well as those that support affective, less instrumental behaviors (Garton, Haythornthwaite, & Wellman, 1997). Privacy might be a concern for citizens of course. At the moment, local SNS can serve the functions of managing and building social networks. In disasters it covers the areas of “observe and report” and “warn and inform”. Along the lines of La Porte, I argue that the design and rules of the network constrain the character, use and content of member roles and exchanges and the network (1996). Consequently, local SNS could support the community and government beyond its current scope.

Sidenote: As I heard this week MIC is planing to extend their local SNS pilot with 10 other cities. I will keep you posted.

Government Social Software - SNS in Japan Part III: Some observations

Donnerstag, Januar 18th, 2007

In today’s entry I would like to make some comments on the two Japanes local government SNS case studies I presented earlier.

Mr. Kobayashi, the member of Yatsushiro’s IT department, has a key role for the future development and functionalities of the SNS platform. He started this local SNS completely on his own, inspired by the rise of private social networking platforms and personal interest in technology. His government membership and high level of personal involvement ensure the sustainability of “Gorotto Yatchiro”. By comparison, “Ococo Nagaoka” is managed by an actor outside of government. The NPO, although well connected, has less leverage on the level government support and involvement. Government officials reportedly evaluate success by the quantity of users which influences their willingness of support. Therefore, “Ococo Nagaoka” is in a critical state (only 600-700 users).

Many online activities (i.e. exchanges) are depending on a critical mass for others to be attractive, a criteria which has not been met in both cases (1%< of the total population) and both mostly exclude older generations. In addition, both are competing with big platforms like Mixi.

If the local SNS has more users, the load on technology and burden on involved managers will also grow. Mr. Kobayashi would not be able to monitor user behavior without further help if that happens. Although officials claim to learn something from citizens, there is nobody checking the information in the citizens’ blogs.
Mr. Kobayashi is right when pointing to the importance taking a gradual approach of getting more users and introducing the platform. However, government marketing is not helping much and poorly done which reminded me of discussions with administrators who were wondering about the slow user uptake in their eGovernment projects.

Although Mr. Kobayashi added the map feature, functionality and design of existing platforms led to an early framing of his understanding of the possibilities and limits of local SNS. The lack of feedback by other people in the creation process is certainly a reason why its use in disaster or the government citizen relationship is not fully exploited. Administrative members would also be more willing to join, add content and engage with the citizen if there would be a considerable and visible amount of support by executive level administrators. Again, Mixi and Gree formed their perception of SNS so that in their words local SNS is mainly a way to interact with the public and offer it a way to interact with each other. They miss the aspect of building social capital.

Moreover, MIC should have planned a longer pilot phase since the tendency of a slow user uptake was already visible in the data for Yatsushiro. Central government is still influential in Japan so MIC could have also done more to inform and motivate the public and administrators alike.

Government Social Software - SNS in Japan Part II: Nagaoka City

Samstag, Januar 6th, 2007

The following describes my findings from Nagaoka city. Follow the highlighted area to read the first part about on government social software in Yatsushiro.

Nagaoka is a city located in the center of Niigata prefecture spanning from the northern coast inland of Japan’s main island Honshu. Just like Yatsushiro, Nagaoka merged with a couple of surrounding cities and towns between April 2005 and January 2006 increasing its population by approximately 100.000. Nagaoka was completely destroyed during Second World War and always had to cope with some form of disaster (earthquakes, snow, flood). This fact left its distinctive mark on the now roughly 283.000 people living in Nagaoka and is a reason why the Phoenix was chosen as a symbol of the city. The recovery of the Chuuetsu earthquake (More on the geophysics) in October 2004 is still taking place in some mountainous areas. The community is said to be better connected in those rural areas than in the city. According to city officials internet penetration is now at 60%. During the earthquake the internet and basic mobile messaging were the only communication channels working.

Before Nagaoka introduced the local SNS platform, it had a web bulletin board besides its official city website. Citizens showed the same frustration with the language and inappropriate behavior of some users which led many to abandon the platform. The city’s local SNS called “Ococo Nagaoka” was introduced in mid December 2005. As it is based on “Open Gorotto” I will not go into detail about its functionality. By now (December 2006) there are 600 registered users compared to 300 at the end of the MIC test phase in February. Only a few forums around casual topics like food eco-tourism can be considered active. The local SNS was marketed through publications in city newspapers, banners and section on the city website. In contrast, Mixi has 2000 members just for Nagaoka.


The process that ultimately led to the Nagaoka local SNS started in 2004. Soiga, an NPO, originally founded for environmental activities in April 2004 used a blogs and RSS to inform the public when the region first experienced a severe flood in April and earthquake in October. They provided faster information than government which received wide media attention, especially when they took over communication after Nakanashima government was operational ineffective through flooding. The NPO tried to convince government officials later that year to start an official government blog but their idea was rejected because nobody saw any need or importance in it. Thereafter, the head of the NPO was asked by MIC to join a newly formed working group on local SNS. (Furthere information in Japanese) The group consisted of academics, members from MIC and members of local administrators among them Mr. Kobayashi. They formed two groups to cover the theoretical and implementation/system aspects. First, they all looked at Mixi and Gree as the majority of them had never heard of SNS or used it before. To get the funds, the official project goal was officially about improving civic participation in Nagaoka and Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward. Although they could not think of a different kind of use, improved information sharing in disasters was a secondary object. MIC covered the costs (¥ 1,500.000) for the local SNS pilot phase whereas the NPO was asked to manage it and work together with local government. Running costs are at around ¥ 30,000 per month.

When Nagaoka’s local SNS started, many sections except for information policy did not understand the SNS concept and why Nagaoka was chosen. In fact, of those interviewed, many admit that they are still wondering what SNS is all about, why they should put their information online and how it could be further utilized for government. Many immediately joined Mixi to get a feeling for SNS. Perceptions of local SNS vary. The dominating view is that local SNS provides a convenient location for communication and information sharing for citizens and government. In the past neighbourhood associations (NA) were the link between government and citizens. However, most leaders and people in the NA are now very old and lack knowledge or interest in the use of IT. Some interviewees think it could complete or add value to real-life relationships. People could help each other more by learning more about each other, what they could do for the community and as a result rely less on government. One mentions a group that started discussing how to have a nicer city and improve economic growth which members first got to each other through the local and later offline. A member of the disaster section adds that it is strengthening the community by building broad networks between the newly merged cities. Sceptics think that there are more dominating means of communication like mobile phones. A council member who uses multiple blogs and the SNS, thinks that the level of impact on the community of the local SNS is very low. To stress this point he compares his networks on Mixi (112 contacts) and the local SNS (12 contacts). In general though, SNS helped the council member to interact with the younger community.

Currently the members of Soiga (Japanese only) are working on an updated version which should be online by early 2007. The biggest change lies in the use of the Google Maps API. They are as well talking about online advertisement space and how to attract more users to the platform. Significant changes to “Open Gorotto” can only be introduced if they are implemented by Mr. Kobayashi or someone with his skills.

Germany announces 311 solution: einheitliche Behördenrufnummer 115 (Bürgertelefon D-115)

Dienstag, Dezember 26th, 2006

Citizen Relationship Management - at least the contact center aspect of it, has made its way to Europe. The other day I have been in touch with somebody from Sweden which is looking into the matter. Dutch ministries also showed some interest. Apparently, the same is true for Germany. Shortly before christmas Angela Merkel, the German chancelor, announced the “Behoerdennotruf” (could be translated public agency emergency number) while participating in the “1st National IT Summit” between government and IT industry representatives. The N-11 type contact center would be available through the unified number 115 and available 24/7/365, probably realized by 2009/10. It is supposed to be modelled after New York’s 311 solution. The results of a first survey among citizens showed mixed to negative opinions towards the initative. I think the term coined for the initiative is misleading for many people after reviewing some of the discussions on blogs and boards.

A feasibility study is planned to start in March 2007 by the ISPRAT institute, a collaboration between industry and academia (Hertie School of Governance, Frauenhofer, WHU). The institute was founded by Harald Lemke, CIO of the Germany’s federal state Hesse. Industry members include Cisco Systems, CSC, Deutsche Telekom AG, Fujitsu-Siemens-Computer, HP, IBM, McKinsey & Company, Microsoft and SAP. You can find the research proposal here (Unfortunately in German only).