The application of information and communication technologies to the public administration has generated many advantages for citizens, from easy access to information to the completion of procedures outside of traditional office hours. In addition, this transformation has also brought about a simplification of the processes. We analyze all the benefits that electronic administration has for citizens, made possible by electronic signature.
The digital transformation has taken place in very diverse areas, among them in the Public Administration, which has adapted its way of relating to the citizen to the current technological innovations, with all the benefits (and also challenges) that this entails for everyone.
The European Commission defines the Electronic Administration as “the use of ICT in Public Administrations, combined with organizational changes and new skills, in order to improve public services and democratic processes and strengthen support for public policies”.
During this process, all physical places become virtual “places”, simplifying and eliminating many obstacles and difficulties characteristic of bureaucracy. Therefore, the on-site office becomes in the virtual headquarters, the signature on paper in electronic signature, and the table of parts in an electronic record, and so on.
The importance of the digital signature
This change of paradigm on how we understand the functioning of the Administration has been possible thanks to the implementation of the digital signature and authentication, two tools with which we have been working on viafirma and creating solutions based on it, knowing its wide range of advantages what it offers.
In the first place, thanks to the digital signature, any citizen can carry out any procedure and attest to their consent without having to leave their home and go to the nearest office. In this way, the Administration becomes an entity that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Thanks to this, the citizen is not restricted by a limited office hours to which he cannot always go because of labor issues or other responsibilities. It is not only a matter of necessity, but of convenience and speed. Procedures that used to take several hours can now be completed simply in a few minutes from home.
Cost savings for all
All this also ends up having an important cost saving, since there is no need for the citizen to travel anywhere. According to the report “Efficiency and Savings with the Application of Accessible Technologies in Public Administrations”, prepared by the National Center Foundation for Accessibility Technologies (Centac, by its initials in Spanish), the implementation of digital administration will save 134,358 million euros from the year 2011 until 2020.
Saving does not only happen for the part of the Administration (which in the end ends up affecting the citizen to be able to devote more economic resources to other activities and services), but it directly reverts to people. According to Emilio Garcia, president of the Association of Public Professionals of Information Technologies of the State Administration (Astic, by its initials in Spanish), a procedure that previously cost € 80 can be done for only € 5 electronically.
Digitization also brings the reduction of environmental impact, something that affects us and benefits everyone as a society. Thus, the savings in paper and other types of costs derived from the displacement have a positive impact on the environment.
ICT and its implementation in the Administration help to reduce certain social barriers for groups with special needs (from people with difficulties or some type of disability to those who live in rural areas and do not have easy access). In fact, it is really important that disabled people see facilitated the procedures that must be performed obligatorily.
This type of facility also produces an increase in citizen participation, through digital suggestion boxes or satisfaction questionnaires, fostering an interactive and more positive relationship. Thus, the relationship between the two becomes more direct, transparent and close. According to the European Union, 62% of its citizens believe that electronic services are beneficial.
These characteristics fit with the philosophy of the universal signature, which is based on the principle of technological neutrality, one of the most important freedoms of this century for which the European Union bets.
The objective of the universal signature is that it can be used from mobile devices and computers, regardless of the operating system and browser that is used and without losing effectiveness or having a worse user experience.
To all this, it must be added that electronic processes have the advantage of traceability and security, which makes the system more secure and transparent. Authentication is a process that uses solutions such as Viafirma Platform to identify the user through digital certificates such as electronic ID, which guarantees technological neutrality and trust.
At what point is the Electronic Administration?
The European Commission published in 2016 a study (“A turning point for the development of Electronic Administration in Europe?”) About the state of the Electronic Administration within member countries of the European Union. It analyzed several key aspects such as the focus on the citizen or transparency, also taking into account details about each region such as its population or its gross domestic product.
According to the study, Spain is in the category “in progress”, that is, it is a country that “shows a clear evolution in the digitization of their Administration, but they face external factors that hinder its full introduction, such as the level of use of electronic services”.
The Electronic Administration also has challenges to face, such as the insufficient penetration of information and communication technologies (ICT). Even so, according to Eurostat data, 45% of Spaniards have ever used e-Government, slightly above the European Union average.
The eGovernment has an eminently positive effect on citizens and demonstrates the importance of using solutions that facilitate and simplify processes and adapt to social and technological reality. In addition to fewer formalities, they can be done remotely, when and where each one wants, without the need to go to an office with a restricted schedule.
In addition, this process of transformation brings with it many advantages of digitization, which suppose a cost saving for all the parties and a general benefit in the impact for the environment.