The digital era begins today

On December 1, the government’s new digitisation strategy begins in earnest and is expected to save the nation’s councils hundreds of millions (Photo: Colourbox)

By Christian Wenande

In Denmark, the first day of December traditionally hails the start of the much-anticipated Christmas marathon. It’s a jovial time of roasted pig, snaps, miserable weather and of course the 1,001 renditions of Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’.

This year, however, the arrival of December looks to the future and celebrates the past.

Today begins the digitisation of the public sector as part of the government’s ambitious strategy plan to phase out the old paperwork-riddled communication between residents and the public sector.

The goal is to have 80 percent of all relevant public-sector communication digitised by 2015.

And as the first digital wave crashes onto the beaches of the public sphere, a number of areas, such as registering to move, applying for childcare and health insurance cards, will only be possible online.

Instead of filling in paperwork, people will use their NemID digital signatures to complete the requests online. The switch is expected to save the nation’s councils upwards of 350 million kroner a year by 2015.

“Obligatory digital self-service means that people who can help themselves online must do so. If online self-service is to be more efficient, then it must be cheaper for the councils while being easy to use for the public,” Astrid Marie Starck, a spokesperson for KL, the national association of local councils, told Version2 news media. “If we don’t have online self-service options that work, it won’t be cheaper for us to get the public to use it.”

People who don’t own a computer or have NemID needn’t worry, because council service centres, Borgerservice, will remain available despite the digital shift.

“There has been a lot of focus on making sure the elderly do not feel ignored and it’s important to underline that people can still come to Borgerservice or call and get the same service as before,” Starck told Version2.

The first wave of digitalisation was ratified by parliament earlier this year and the second wave, which is due to be implemented in December 2013, will be decided in the next spring, according to Digitaliseringsstyrelsen, the agency responsible for implementing the shift.

Factfile | Digitisation

In ‘wave 1’ of the digital changes, residents will be able to do the following online:

• Change of address
• Order a new health insurance card and EU health insurance card
• Apply for child care
• Register for a school and after-school centre
• Pay student loans (SU)
• Pay for hunting licences, hunting tests and firearms tests
• Book a camping site or activity within the area of the national nature agency, Naturstyrelsen
• Register for enrolment in youth education and the supplication to further education

The ‘wave 2’ proposal, set to be implemented in December 2013 residents will be able to do the following online:

• Apply for public assistance
• Apply for aid for funeral service
• Choose a doctor
• Apply for free day care
• Notify local council of rat infestation
• Announce engagement to be married
• Apply for a passport
• Apply for a copy of driving licence
• Apply to lease a property
• Unregister from national register of people
• Apply to remove a name and address from a public register
• Apply for after-school care
• Request a statement of criminal record
• Report a stolen bicycle
• Apply for a name change
• Register a birth
• Request a burial or cremation
• Submit paternity declaration
• Submit a preliminary income assessment form
• Request a printed tax return
• File an extended tax return
• File an overseas tax return
• Report other forms of taxes
• Appeal a decision
• Apply art subsidy
• Submit an environmental complaint

Courtesy: The Copenhagen Post