Experiences of the Dutch public sector in shaping the future of cross-border electronic identification
81 Dutch municipalities have opened up their online public services to European citizens. Citizens of up to 32 European countries can use their own, trusted, electronic identification (eID) to request services such as a parking permit or birth certificates through the website of the participating Dutch municipalities. All of this, before the eIDAS legislation becomes effective in September 2018.
Being part of the largest cross-border regulated electronic identification project in the world, each participating municipality has had to prepare their organisation for eIDAS. Accepting European eIDs requires changes beyond the IT architecture developed by Connectis and implemented by the four portal suppliers Dimpact, Lost Lemon, SIM Groep and Kodision. These organisations take care of the technical implementation of eIDAS. Municipalities are faced with user-focused decisions: which services to offer to European citizens, how to prepare staff for questions from future customers, but also how to optimise the website journey for these new, often non-Dutch speaking, users.
81 municipalities, 81 stories
Together, the participating municipalities represent over 20% of the Netherlands. With a mix of large cities and small villages spread across the country, their reasons for wanting to be a front-runner in eIDAS are diverse. For municipalities such as Leudal and Coevorden, their close proximity to the German and/or Belgium borer was a strong motivator. Expat hotspots Voorschoten and Wassenaar open up their online public services in order to provide their expat citizens with the same service level as their local, Dutch, citizens. Becoming eIDAS-proof is an essential part of their vision for the future. Municipality Waterland mentioned that being a small municipality, they wanted to show that they can be one of the frontrunners when it comes to innovation. ‘We realize we are a small fish in a large pond. Looking beyond the Dutch borders enables to expand our reach’, says Harm van Dommelen of the munipality of Waterland.
eIDAS as part of digitisation
A common factor amongst the municipalities is their focus on digitisation. For many of them, becoming eIDAS-proof is just one of the many initiatives that they embrace. The municipality of Urk took digitisation to the next level, when they introduced the ‘Wedding App’ through which their citizens could ‘book’ a time and setting for their wedding. Digitisation goes beyond the technical implementation. In order to truly take advantage of the digital features available and know how to separate services that can be handled fully digital, from complex services that require personal human contact. ‘Introducing online public services requires the set-up and proper governance of new processes’, says Hans Lammers of the municipality of Enschede.
Practical implications of becoming eIDAS proof
Opening up your services to a potential customer base of hundreds of millions European citizens is serious business. Hence, the expectations are high. Municipality Hoeksche Waard counts on a rise in the amount of event permits requested. Municipality Ede expects that their international community, consisting of students, expats and tourists, will actively use their digital environment. Gemert-Bakel expects an increase in the amount of re-location forms submitted and passport requests. Velsen uses eIDAS to attract more students, expats and seasonal workers in the coming 10 years. These expectations indicate that the knowledge about the implementation of eIDAS is growing. ‘I see there is a growing interest in the topic. Articles on eIDAS are being placed on social media and in professional journals. Our municipalities attempt to support this movement. When we are eIDAS proof we will approach several local and regional media organisations’, says Erik Hoorweg of the municipalities of Voorschoten and Wassenaar.
Communication is key in shifting user behavior
While the international attention to the eIDAS regulation and matching initiatives grows, the question exists how long it will take for European citizens to knock on the virtual doors of the participating municipalities. Armed with an instruction video, leaflets, quick reference cards and a FAQ page, www.eidas2018.eu allows for the message to be spread. Starting from explanations of what an eID is and what eIDAS entails, the communication materials allow participating municipalities and European public administrations to enlighten European citizens about the possibilities of eIDAS. ‘From the user perspective, our ambition is to make it as transparent as possible which services can be requested with an European eID. Users need to know how eIDAS work and how they can reap the benefits’, says Elvera Meuwissen of the municipality of Leudal.
Decision-making about the future
Due to the current uncertainty on the expected usage, there are also municipalities that have decided to wait with their decision-making process until European citizens can actually login to their services. With the IT architecture up and running, they now look to to other participating municipalities for inspiration. ‘Exchanging experiences and insights allows our municipality to reap the benefits of eIDAS’ says Patrick Jonkman of the municipality of Almelo. Knowledge sharing forms an essential part of the implementation for participating municipalities. Being a front-runner in eIDAS requires flexibility to currently match the requirements of the environment. Now and also when other European public administration become eIDAS-proof.
Interested in more stories from participating municipalities? Click here for access to 30 reference stories.