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IE and Software AG present the 'Analysis of the Development of Electronic Municipal Government in Spain

Madrid, 17 October 2005. According to the Analysis of the Development of Electronic Municipal Government in Spain, undertaken by experts from Instituto de Empresa and Software AG as part of the activities of the Software AG - Sumaq Alliance Chair in e-Government, the implementation of municipal e-government services is not being developed in a strategic manner in Spain, and growth in the field is unordered and inefficient.

The study was presented at Instituto de Empresa on October 17 at an event that included addresses by Santiago Íniguez de Onzoño, Dean of Instituto de Empresa, José Esteves, professor at Instituto de Empresa and Director of the Software AG – Sumaq Alliance Chair in e-Government, Christian Barrios Marchant, Senior Vice-President for Southern & Western Europe Region and Latin America, Chairman of Software AG España and Portugal and Member of the Board of Software AG and Roberto Armiño, Managing Director of Software AG España.

The Chair, which was created to promote training, research and strategy consulting in the modernisation of the computer systems of public administrations in Spain and Latin America, seeks to extend the study to all the countries in Latin America to discover the level of implementation and development of e-Government services at municipal level in the region and to share the best practices and experiences started up on both sides of the Atlantic.

In order to prepare the report, the authors of the study assessed the level of maturity of the municipal e-services in 91 Spanish towns and cities, at different stages of development, with over 75,000 inhabitants. They also took into account factors such as the GDP, the population and the number of homes with Internet access and ADSL.

The report distinguishes five stages of development of municipal e-services, based on levels of progress: Presence, with municipal websites offering forms, information on plenary sessions, search engines and web maps; Urban Information, which includes services such as street plans and information on municipal transport; Interaction, where local authorities provide services such as on-line suggestion boxes and telephone directories; Transaction, which is more developed and provides digital certificates, making on-line payments and monitoring procedures; and finally, e-Democracy, which involves citizen participation through chat forums on municipal matters and pages adapted for the disabled, among others.

Based on these classifications the authors of the report have drafted a ranking of Spanish towns and cities according to their level of municipal e-services. The ranking is headed by Barcelona, Vigo and Leganés, the only towns and cities to show a ‘very high’ level of development. The study also reveals a big difference between the services offered between towns and cities in the same region, which according to the authors means that synergies between them are not being used to improve e-services.

‘Star’ services

According to this report, 53.8% of the towns and cities under analysis provide all the e-services considered basic, 81.3% provide urban and interactive information, and only 16.5% provide citizen participation services over the Internet. Accordingly, at present, the ‘star’ e-services are the on-line suggestion boxes, the publication of forms, the digital street plan and information on transport services.

The report points out that the provision of e-services for electronic government does not depend on the GDP of each region, but there is a direct relationship with the size of the population of the town or city: the larger the population, the more sophisticated the services provided. The study also states that a more widespread use of the Internet and ADSL in the regions means a wider variety of transactional e-services and urban information available.

‘In Spain, many towns and cities are trying to offer services over the Internet, but very few of them do so strategically,’ says José Esteves, professor at IE, Director of the Chair and author of the report. For him, ‘this unordered growth leads to citizen dissatisfaction and generates inefficient services.’ For Esteves, ‘in many cases, although there is an electronic service, it is still necessary to use the telephone or personally travel to the town hall offices to finalise the procedure. And that is not logical. These services should make it possible to complete procedures 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, accessing public administration from anywhere over the net.’