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The National Digital Program of the Government of Israel

Improving Government Services to Citizens and Reducing the Bureaucracy

The enormous influence of the government on the life of its citizens is reflected not only in public goods but also in the services it provides. These services affect each and every one of us and require continuing communication and a close interface with the government.

Innovation in the information age has not yet permeated the government and the public sector in Israel, that are perceived as heavy-handed and outdated, and interfacing with them is sometimes cumbersome and involves bureaucracy in order to receive information and services.

As part of the National Initiative, the Government ICT Authority and ministries, in cooperation with the Bureau, are advancing measures to transform government services into digital and high-quality while creating the necessary supporting infrastructures. The government will act to adopt the “Citizen in the Center” principle that will place increased importance on the needs of citizens and their satisfaction, and will contribute to improved, personally customized, convenient and simple services. To achieve this, the government will provide its services through the new website that was designed with an emphasis on quality and reliable service. Government services will be viewed from the perspective of the citizen or the business receiving the service, rather than from the perspective of the office providing the service, in the aim of simplifying the interactions with the various government offices.

To improve service to citizens receiving government services, along with maintaining information privacy and security, an integral identification platform (Single Sign On - SSO) will be advanced. This will enable convenient, unified and protected identification in engaging with online government services and is necessary in order to remove barriers that currently limit the development of this field. The identification method will be determined while balancing the clear need to improve service with the ability to optimally protect information and systems. To the extent possible, identification will unified throughout the systems.

Designing a unified and secure government identification platform that will protect the information transmitted through it will eliminate citizens’ needs to remember dozens of passwords for the variety of existing government services. A smart ID card will also be advanced that will serve as the primary means of identification for citizens when using online government services.

Eliminating the “Fax Age”
(headed by the ICT Authority) 

Government Resolution no. 2008 requires every government entity to provide citizens with a digital tool, including email, for transmitting inquiries and documents as an alternative to the fax machine. The decision to add more digital tools as a means of communication, in addition to the fax, is in line with efforts to improve government service to citizens and reduce bureaucracy.

Digitization of Local Government and Advancing “Smart Cities”

Integrating digitization into local government activity falls under the broad definition of “Smart Cities” and encapsulates the extensive potential to improve citizens’ quality of life. The Smart Cities field encompasses a host of issues, among them:

As the Smart Cities field touches upon a wide range of areas, a huge number of Smart City projects worldwide are advancing initiatives pertaining to sustainability, service provision, opening data to the public, IoT and Big Data, just to mention a few.
For example, the Internet of Things field, with the use of sensors, enables the production and smart management of information, for decision-making and to improve services to residents and businesses. This can result in improved quality and execution of municipal services such as garbage collection, watering and lighting, while reducing costs and resource consumption.
The digital revolution underway in Israel in recent years in all areas of life has also reached local government. Information and computing systems are the strategic infrastructure of local government and they must enable accessible and efficient service to residents, local government management, transparency, and improved decision-making. Numerous changes in many areas have taken place in recent years, both technological and organizational, however, alongside the host of developments and improvements, many challenges remain.
Local government in Israel faces many problems, among them the absence of a single public entity responsible for digitization, multiple entities involved in decision-making in their activity areas, and difficulty setting a uniform and binding policy. There is also great disparity between the 257 local government authorities, and while the digitization level in strong local governments is high, in many it is low – 22 of them do not even have a website. Therefore, digitization of local government and online access to their services holds considerable potential that will translate into improved quality of life for their residents.
The Bureau will be the expert entity and the leading government entity in the Smart City field, serving as a source of information, experience and guidance for local governments and relevant entities, while providing tools for formulating a digital strategy in this field, developing necessary infrastructures and advancing projects according to the needs of the specific local municipality.
As part of the National Initiative, three main components will be promoted in order to advance local government in Israel into the digital age, in cooperation with local government, the Interior Ministry and additional entities:
The first component pertains to creating an infrastructure of digital human capital in local government in Israel.
To this end, two key training programs were established in the aim of exposing participants to the advantages and opportunities in the transition to the digital age, providing knowledge and tools for carrying out the transition, accelerating the design of a digital strategy for the specific local government, and initiating and carrying out digital projects by the program participants. Through the program, it will also be possible to build a network of digital change leaders for continued shared learning and for creating collaborations for continued development of the field in every local government.
The first program is the “Digital Leaders” program, intended for management level employees in local government, as well as for outstanding senior employees from central government and the third sector who interact extensively with local government. These individuals seek to make an impact and create a change in their areas of responsibility, and the program will give them tools for executing the digital transformation in their local government.
The second program is “Digital Accelerators”, for middle management in local government. The program aims to develop a learning, understanding and implementation based approach through which each of the participants can return to their local government and accelerate and implement the digital change.
Besides these two training programs, further avenues will be considered in the future to expand digital human capital, for example by encouraging the introduction of digital and technology personnel into local government and expanding the role of the IT manager in local government.
The second component is accessibility of horizontal municipal digital platform solutions to local governments in Israel
. The aim of this component is to provide a uniform minimal foundation that will enable the local government to improve and provide residents and businesses operating in the local government access to services, with an emphasis on local governments that are unable to establish or purchase the necessary systems.
In this framework, the Bureau will act to provide funding solutions that include basic systems for service provision, for example: a website, a municipal application, online forms, a Facebook page and public information sharing systems. The Bureau will also act to advance integration and implementation of advanced systems such as CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and GIS (display layers of geographic information). It will also act to provide consulting and integration services to local government for characterizing the necessary adaptations in line with the needs of the specific local government.
The third component will include promoting advanced digital projects in local government to help them progress towards achieving the goal of a Smart City. In this component, digital solutions suited for the needs of a specific local government will be implemented, underscoring projects that leverage the opportunities of the digital age for advancing the strategic goals of each and every local government.

This will include advancing innovative projects in Regional Clusters as “Digital Clusters” (a Regional Cluster is a corporation whose aim is to promote regional collaboration among neighboring local governments in the periphery). These projects will be based on the digital strategy program that will be formulated by every cluster. The projects will be selected according to the regional orientation in the Regional Cluster’s areas of focus, for example – transportation, garbage collection, tourism and employment. The benefit of focusing on the cluster as a unit is the ability to take advantage of economies of scale and collaboration, and to concentrate on the periphery in Israel. To date, in order to formulate a digital strategy and implement innovative digital projects, the five clusters in Israel have been budgeted in the amount of three million NIS per cluster.
Besides these three components aimed at advancing the digital transformation in local government, the National Initiative will support the development of IoT and Smart Cities, while promoting Israel as a beta site of municipal innovation. Steps will be taken to create an ecosystem for Smart Cities, among them establishing innovation centers and conducting Hackathons to address challenges facing local government.
Owing to the combination of the readiness of technological infrastructures and a series of government resolutions, an opportunity has emerged for a significant digital transformation in local government as part of the National Initiative. This transformation will include promoting innovation, accessibility to and streamlining public services, sharing government and municipal information and knowledge, increasing economic efficiency, providing distance social services, and accessibility of digitization to peripheral populations. The Bureau is currently in the process of formulating a strategic digital program for digitization of local government that will encompass the activities of the central government, local government and additional organizations.

Beer Sheba - Digital City
(in cooperation with the Beer Sheba municipality)

This initiative serves as a national pilot for a digital cities model. The project will advance a variety of innovative pilots in education, social services and health. It will be conducted in cooperation with the public as part of the decision-making process, while encouraging the use of open information to improve public goods and services.