How to use instruments of e-democracy at the local level: the Riga example

Digital technologies can be at the service of communities, with e-government as a clear example. To help Ukrainian local authorities in harnessing the potential of e-government, our member Dainis Turlais (LV) of the Riga City Council, shared the experience from Latvia’s capital city during a roundtable organised in Ukraine by the European Liberal Forum and the German liberal foundation Friedrich Naumann.

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His city of Riga serves as a good example: it is the European capital of free wifi since the summer of 2014 with three wifi points per km2. Its Information Technology Centre, a structural unit that deals with all matters regarding information and communication technologies in the Riga city council, aiming to create and maintain unified ICT support for employees, enables them to provide fast, qualified and efficient services for citizens and entrepreneurs.

There are many examples of the impact of such e-services. The mobile application for the Riga municipal police – an easy way for inhabitants to contact police and emergency services, send image or video files to report any violations of the law – received for instance 5 146 calls or notifications in 2015, a figure that skyrocketed in 2016 to 12 423 calls or notifications, or a 141% increase due to its low threshold for reporting!  The percentage of electronically signed internal correspondence has also risen from barely 5% in 2009 to almost 60% in 2015.

Investment in ICT and e-services equals investing in good governance

Riga clearly uses its ICT to transform the public service delivery and hereby promotes good urban governance. This allows an easier administrative structure, transparency and more flexible local regulations tailored to the citizen’s need.  Investment in ICT and e-services therefore equals investing in good governance: it enables administrative capacity building, clients’ needs and ideas can be implemented in new e-services, and services offered reflect the demographic changes and economic development.

The roundtable took place on 11-12 March 2017 in Dnipro, Ukraine. For more information, contact the ALDE Secretariat.