By Theodoros Demetriades, Standards Lead
As a team at the Digital Services Factory, we are passionate about creating citizen-centric digital services that serve the needs of the people of Cyprus. One of the ways to do this is by following the Digital Services Factory Standards. But what are these standards, and why are they so important?
First, let’s take a quick look at what those standards are.
A. Understanding User Needs
By understanding user needs, we can design digital services that meet the needs of citizens. This involves conducting research to identify user needs, preferences, and pain points. Therefore, we can create services that are tailored to the needs of citizens, increasing their trust and satisfaction.
B. Leading Agile Teams
Agile teams develop digital services that are flexible, responsive, and adaptable to changing user needs. By having a multidisciplinary team, using Agile ways of working, and iterating frequently, we can continuously improve the services we provide.
C. Choosing the Right Technology
Choosing the right technology is crucial for creating a secure and reliable service that protects users’ privacy. This involves defining what success looks like and publishing performance data, choosing the right tools and technology, making data and functionality available via APIs, and using open standards, common components, and patterns. By doing this, we can ensure that the service is interoperable, scalable, and future-proof.
Benefits of Following Digital Services Factory Standards
By following the DSF Standards, the government of Cyprus can achieve several benefits that will lead to the improvement of government services. These benefits can be grouped into four categories:
1. Efficiency and Cost-effectiveness
Streamlining the development process, avoiding unnecessary expenses, and reducing duplication of effort can help improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness. By doing so, the government can save costs and use resources more efficiently.
For example, government agencies can use a consistent approach to develop digital services. This means that they can avoid wasting time and resources developing services from scratch, as they can use existing components, patterns, and tools. This can reduce the overall development time and effort required, leading to cost savings for the government.
Moreover, by reducing duplication of effort, government agencies can avoid working on the same problem in isolation. Instead, they can collaborate and share information, building on each other’s work to create a more efficient and effective solution. This can also reduce the risk of errors, leading to a better quality of service for citizens.
Furthermore, avoiding unnecessary expenses can help government agencies to allocate their resources more efficiently. For instance, if an agency is developing a new service, it can evaluate whether a similar service already exists and if it can be adapted or reused. This can avoid unnecessary expenses in developing a new service that already exists, resulting in cost savings for the government.
2. Accessibility and Inclusivity
Digital services need to be accessible and inclusive for all citizens, regardless of their ability or background. Making sure everyone can use the service and creating a secure service that protects users’ privacy is crucial in achieving this goal. This can promote social inclusion and reduce the digital divide.
For example, a digital service that is designed to help citizens access government benefits should be accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities or those who may not have access to the latest technology. By following the DSF Standards, the team can ensure that the service is designed to be accessible and inclusive for all citizens, with features like text-to-speech, closed captioning, and easy-to-use interfaces. Additionally, by ensuring that the service is secure and protects users’ privacy, citizens can feel confident in using the service and providing sensitive information, regardless of their background. This can help to reduce the digital divide and promote social inclusion by ensuring that everyone has equal access to government services.
3. Data Management and Sharing
Making data and functionality available via APIs and using open standards, common components, and patterns can improve coordination and collaboration across different government services and departments. This can lead to better services for the citizens and enhance data management and sharing.
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
APIs allow different systems and applications to communicate with each other in a standardized way. This means that data and functionality can be easily shared and used across different services and departments. This can help eliminate duplication of effort, reduce the risk of errors, and improve the speed and efficiency of data sharing.
Open standards, common components, and patterns
Using open standards, common components, and patterns means that different services and departments can use a shared set of tools and resources. This can help to ensure that they are working towards a common goal and can avoid the problem of each department developing its own solutions to the same problem. This can lead to better consistency and quality of services, as well as cost savings for the government.
Coordination and collaboration
By improving coordination and collaboration, the government can provide better services for citizens. For example, if a citizen needs to interact with multiple government services, the government can ensure that these services work seamlessly together to provide a smooth and efficient user experience. This can also help to ensure that citizens do not need to provide the same information multiple times, leading to a better overall experience.
Improving data management and sharing can enhance the accuracy and reliability of data used by government services. This can help to ensure that services are based on accurate and up-to-date information, leading to better decision-making and service provision for citizens. Overall, making data and functionality available via APIs and using open standards, common components, and patterns can lead to better government services and enhance data management and sharing.
4. Transparency and Accountability
Defining what success looks like and publishing performance data can increase transparency and accountability. This allows citizens to provide feedback on how to improve services and hold the government accountable for the services they provide.
For example, suppose the government of Cyprus has launched a digital service to provide information on public transportation schedules. By defining what success looks like and publishing performance data, the government can set clear goals for the service, such as reducing wait times or increasing user satisfaction. This data can be made public, allowing citizens to see how well the service is performing and providing feedback on how to improve it. If the service falls short of the defined goals, citizens can hold the government accountable for improving the service to better meet their needs. This increases transparency and accountability and ultimately leads to better services for the citizens of Cyprus.
In a nutshell
Following the Digital Services Factory Standards is key to improving government services in Cyprus. By doing so, we can create accessible, easy-to-use, and secure digital services that serve the needs of citizens well. Moreover, by helping the public and private sectors adopt these standards, we can contribute to the wider goal of digital transformation in Cyprus.