Key points form sessions - Simpler, smarter and innovative public services

System-level innovation

How can we approach innovation in complex, interacting, often highly regulated systems (healthcare, taxation, immigration, education, …)

Where does the innovation incentive come from?

  • Encourage innovation from within the system
  • Facilitate collaboration between system agents and outside companies/entrepreneurs

What are the hurdles to system-level innovation?

  • System complexity
  • Legacy
  • Regulations (must in many cases be made more consistent and/or simplified)
  • Workload (sufficient latency/flexibility must be provided to spark creativity)

How can digitalization be used to facilitate innovation?

  • Real-time information
  • No multiple reporting
  • Simple transfer of data between units, once formats and definitions are standardized

Important prerequisites

  • Simplicity/agility (don’t try to fix a complex system with complex changes)
  • Lateral coordination, inter-agency approach
  • Strong leadership

Moderator: Kristján Leósson


Innovation online

The session innovation online started with three presentations; one on the many opportunities with information technology in the public sector, one on the use of intelligent information in transportation with efficiency and cost reduction as the goal, and one on e-petitions for law amendments in Latvia. The discussions were lively and an expert on the use of information technology in medicine was involved along with the ministers.

  1. One major discussion point was regarding openness of data. In order to use information technology as efficiently as possible in public services, a significant amount of data need to be available. In some cases the software developers can derive new data based on the available data and users can add data. Not all data can be open due to privacy issues which is a limitation. However, it was suggested in the discussion that legislation should be „forward looking“, in order to not be restrictive regarding future opportunities of data use.
  2. In the medical sector, privacy is a major concern but the reality in that sector is that information technology needs to be increasingly used in order to reduce cost and improve services. One such example was mentioned to design a patient portal where the patients would register measurements, e.g., in relation to hypertension. The medical doctors would monitor the results online and notify individual patients when a problem was observed. Such a system would be both cost-efficient and beneficial to society.
  3. Participation of young people in democracy was discussed. It is clear that young people these days are much more involved in social media as compared to older people. Electronic voting is something that is currently attractive to young people and has demonstrated an increase in the participation of young people in recent elections when compared to previous “hard copy” elections. Furthermore, it seems that young people these days are not as concerned with privacy issues.
  4. The e-petitions in Latvia are an excellent innovative example for the use of information technology in public service. If 10.000 citizens support an e-petition in Latvia, the parliament needs to discuss it. During the last five years, seventeen such petitions have gone to the parliament and eight have been passed as law amendments. This e-petition example is something that could be considered by other nations to open the government.

Moderator: Jón Atli Benediktsson


Smart cities

I. What are Smart cities?

  • Today 78 % of European citizens live in cities and 85% of the GDP is generated in cities.
  • Cities are central in key challenges for Europe´s society and economy – jobs, growth and investment, innovations and energy efficiency to name a few.
  • Smart city is a good example of how governments, national and local, use technologies and innovation to help grow the economies, reduce costs and engage with its citizens -  in short to make public services simpler, smarter and more innovative.

II. But how do cities become smarter?

  • Political leadership is essential.
  • Applying information technology in all fields – we need to capitalise on the fact that countries in Northern Europe are in the forefront in ICT infrastructure and services.
  • By breaking down the walls between state and local governments and between governments and the industry.
  • By simulation of behaviour – recreating the things you´re interested in (traffic- infrastructure – city planning – autonomous vehicles – interaction of many systems). By cooperation between different public bodies, both state and local.
  • By breaking down the silos of traditional ways of doing things. For example new methods in waste collection operations.
  • By using social media and crowdsourcing to encourage general participation of the citizen.
  • By setting up state of the art government Digital Service.

Moderator: Ragnhildur Hjaltadóttir