Digital transformation in public administration – COVID 19 created the sense of urgency

Research output: Working paper

Abstract

The corona crisis sums up the advantages and disadvantages of digital tranformation. All digital achievements and deficits become apparent within a very short time - for example in the areas of work, education, new media and technical infrastructure. The pandemic seems to be the needed “sense of urgency” that is required to transform public authorities into learning organizations, being resilient towards changes in workplaces such as the implementation of new digital technology that may change particular processes and structures.
Companies, politics, administration, infrastructure, they are all lagging behind digitization since years. Digital transformation is mandatory in almost all areas of life and business for Europe’s economy and society.
The Corona crisis demonstrates what the digital backlog means for Europe’s economy and society. Within a very short time, it exposes the deficits and achievements of digitization in Europe’s public authorities: Public authorities are responding to the corona virus by offering their employees to work in their home office in order to reduce the spread to insulate (Stettes, 2020). Until the crisis, many public authorities were reluctant to introduce home offices: in 2014 the proportion of companies that enable at least individual employees to have home offices was 22 percent, in 2018 it was 39 percent (Bitkom, 2019). However, in public authorities the number of individuals’ working from home was far lower than in companies, simply because the technologies to offer such remote work conditions were not in place. However, due to the recent pandemic the public authorities had to send their employees home. Thus, public authorities started to invest generously and quickly in laptops and other digital communication and collaboration technologies. However, in addition to the right technology, which in many cases either has to be procured or implemented correctly, a corresponding corporate culture is also required (Stettes, 2020). Thus the question is: Can public authorities be turned in learning organizations, and their employees adapt flexibly, maintain work processes and thus avoid an economic fiasco?
Data was gathered during intensive cooperation with the LAs of nine European cities and their wider stakeholders in the H2020 CIVITAS SUITS project. Supporting Urban Integrated Transport Systems (SUITS) is a four-year research and development project, aiming to increasing the capacity of small to medium cities to plan and implement sustainable mobility measures. The project addresses the ongoing major transformations in the transport sector which requires LAs to work in new ways, with new partners, regulations, new modes of transport and notably, with innovative information and communication technologies. In the course of the project, the nine cities of Kalamaria (Greece), Valencia (Spain), Alba Iulia (Romania), Rome and Turin (Italy) and West Midlands (UK), Palanga (Romania), Stuttgart and Dachau (Germany) have embarked on a change journey to foster sustainable mobility. The impact of the recent pandemic was the subject of various discussions with city partners in workshops and interviews each lasting around one to two hours.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusSubmitted - 6 Jun 2020

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