Technology for adapting municipal public service to the challenges of the health crisis

The health crisis has brought about a compulsory digitisation of municipal activity which will help to establish the foundations for defining a new concept of employment at the City Council.

The Third Deputy Mayor for Agenda 2030, Digital Transition, Sports and Territorial Coordination at Barcelona City Council, Laia Bonet, presented the Commission of the Municipal Council for Presidency, Citizen Rights, Participation, Security and Prevention with a report entitled “Digital Transition and Teleworking at Barcelona City Council during the COVID-19 crisis”. A document stating the technological strategy that the City Council has been developing so it can continue to carry out its functions in the face of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 health crisis. The strategy is focused on helping with the management and development of the following cornerstones:

  • Guaranteeing the provision of essential and crucial services for city residents, by ensuring that municipal professionals have workplace and teleworking tools at their disposal.
  • Covering health responses through contingency plans, providing the necessary tools and designing the protocols for the information systems’ continuity.
  • Strengthening assistance for city residents, by speeding up procedures and guaranteeing the availability and use of the Virtual Procedures Office, the free 010 telephone helpline and municipal social networks.
  • Bringing continuity to the other public services provided by the City Council, guaranteeing that all non-essential services can continue to operate in teleworking mode.

The Municipal Institute of Information Technology (IMI), once the state of alert had been decreed, prepared and launched a Contingency Plan with a series of measures for ensuring the capacity for the Council’s employees to work from home and safely adapting jobs. These measures meet the need to ensure a secure connection to the City Council’s network and servers and facilitate access to remote working; to deploying corporate devices for workers who need them; and to making applications available for facilitating team and collaborative work.

The result of the above-mentioned initiatives has enabled us to provide teleworking tools for 9,741 City Council users and all the municipal companies using a computer station, and to increase the number of corporate laptops in operation to 1,785. IMI’s managers have run the processes for enabling users to join the platforms, designed user guides and maintained a remote support team for resolving queries and incidents.

A series of changes have been developed in the running of the council Information Systems, with the aim of enabling remote working as well as secure access to information systems from outside, and specific tools have also been added to improve coordination between the City Council’s various areas. There has been a drive to promote the use of collaborative platforms and video-conference applications such as Webex, the Humhub software to enable teamwork with shared documents and tasks and Localret Meet, which has enabled broadcasts of full council meetings on the YouTube platform. At present, over a hundred meetings a day are being held at the City Council, with over 800 participants.

From the work-organisation perspective at the City Council, the social and health emergency and the necessary lockdown of the population to combat the pandemic have led to a shift towards a compulsory digitalisation of municipal activity. This change represents a significant boost to the Digital Transition process and to the definition of a new concept of Job, which the City Council had already begun to work on with the creation of a work team for assessing, adapting and implementing new management and organisation models for facilitating work-life balance and a better use of time.

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