Virtual Capital Warsaw eGovernment Portal

URBACT Conference „eDemocracy and empowerment„, Lille, 2004

Agenda

„Virtual capital” project focuses on providing information connected with the life of the city and is addressed both to the citizens and to the persons interested in Warsaw, both to the institutions and to individuals. „Virtual Capital” portal is a modern, interactive tool allowing to provide the Warsaw citizens with the services of similar quality to those provided by the private sector. It covers three thematic fields: A2A (administration to administration), A2B (administration to business) A2C (administration to citizens).

The structure of the project is based on nine main thematic blocks: presentation of the city attractions, information about the activities of administration, provision of e-services for the citizens, counselling for entrepreneurs, information and services for tourists, news and practical information for the citizens, cultural information, Warsaw address book integrated with an interactive map.

The concept of content presentation assumes the application of module solutions which constitute a closed homogeneous entirety so that their everyday servicing and content management was not dependant on other thematic areas. The common architecture of the service, adopted graphical solutions and the method of content presentation constitute the connection between separate modules. This solution allows to use the synergy effect while building the coherent image of Warsaw.

In terms of technical solutions, the thematic modules management is conducted directly through the departments of the City of Warsaw through the Internet browser, using the intuition interfaces allowing for adding content, its hierarchization and modification of catalogue structure.

„Virtual capital” portal became a popular source of information on the activities of public administration for Varsovians and, thanks to constant dialogue with the citizens, the number of visits to the portal increased from 30,000 to almost one million a month.

The results of surveys indicate that it is also considered to be a credible and reliable source of information about the capital, around 70% of visitors come from Warsaw, which confirms the very precise preparation of the content for the citizens. Studies also indicate high declared loyalty of the users, over 90% of them declared they would visit the website of the City of Warsaw once again. The portal is also positively evaluated by the specialist periodicals. It was awarded the title of „Interesting website” of the WebReporter magazine and the „Website of the day” of the PC World Computer magazine.

Problem addressed

Reports on functioning of Polish official websites show that 63% of Internet users visit sites of offices and public institutions. Visits of public institutions’ websites are mainly of informative character. Half of the visits takes place out of „sheer curiosity” of citizens who view the pages of their city but at the same time realize that if they actually want to get to know anything, they have to go to the city hall in person.
More than half of the respondents are interested in gmina activity on the Internet. However, research shows that the interest of the citizens does not correspond to the frequency of use of city halls websites – the greatest number of respondents have visited websites of the city hall:
1. „only once” (21.8%),
2. „from time to time” 20% of the respondents,
3. „once in a few months” – 20.1%,
4. and only 1% of respondents „everyday”
According to analytics, such discrepancy is related to the fact that requirements of citizens of gmina towards official websites of local offices are higher then what is usually offered by the sites.

The Internet users expect to find on the websites of city halls some practical information on everyday life, as well as entertainment and recreation in their city. The most frequently pointed topics that should be concluded on the city hall’s websites are: culture, local and regional tourism, information on current events in the city, as well as issues connected with the labour market.

Similar problems have been noticed in Warsaw. In a questionnaire prepared by the City of Warsaw, citizens of the capital have indicated the need for an Internet portal of a citywide character, they have also indicated the lack of access to information on everyday life of the city. While activating the project „Virtual capital”, we have defined its vision and aims:
1. „Virtual capital – Warsaw eGovernment Portal” is a modern, interactive tool that creates the image of friendly, professional administration, which uses tools of IT society.
2. The portal shall be made of many different thematic modules, which describe the life of Warsaw, presented as an uniform entirety. Separate modules shall be connected by common architecture of the service, accepted graphical solutions and the way of content presentation.
3. As far as technological solutions are concerned the management of thematic modules shall be done through an Internet search tool with the use of intuitive interfaces which enable to add some content, arrange it and modify the catalogue structure. Departments that are responsible for managing their module directly shall edit the content.

General background

The Internet service of the City of Warsaw was visited around 30,000 a month, which confirmed our opinion that the expectations of citizens do not match the information services provided by the public administration. „Virtual capital” project was developed in order to efficiently provide information to the citizens.

Educated, well-informed people who understand the transformations taking place around them function better in the society than uneducated and uninformed ones. Information technologies may potentially ensure wide and cheap, in comparison with traditional technologies, access to information, providing a chance for better education and better information on all issues important for the quality of personal and social life. Therefore, they may contribute to the constant development of both individual citizens and the whole society. Moreover, the citizens have the right to see how the public administration is functioning, on what it spends money and how it fulfils its tasks. Administration is obliged to provide this information in the standards developed in the private sector. Those two statements constitute two main axioms for us while launching the project.

Aim of the project:
1. The essential aim of the project was to create a tool that would make it possible to provide administrative services, of quality equal to that of the private sector services ,through Internet to the citizens of Warsaw.
2. Creating of „e-office” open 24 hours/7 days a week.
3. Using the best solutions of business sector for providing services.
4. Gathering, in one place, information from official sources, and units subordinate to the City of Warsaw, as well as from organizations and social circles that enable to achieve and analyze selected, condensed information that ease the process of decision making.
5. Creating of an integrated way of content presentation, making use of the synergy effect while creating a consistent image of Warsaw.

Policy Context and Strategy

The aim of the project was to improve the operating of the public administration and to lower the costs of its functioning, due to the implementation of modern information technologies. The automatization of the majority of procedures is to facilitate the access to the administration for every citizen. The additional effect, which will be achieved in this way, is the complete transparency of the functioning of the administration, its structures and tasks it performs. Due to the implementation of the project, the supervision over the public spending will considerably improve as well as the effectiveness of administration, without the need to increase employment. Objectives proposed in the „Virtual capital” project are closely correlated with European and national initiatives in the field of information society.

The European Union, while noticing the necessity to develop the knowledge-based economy and the building of information society, pointed to those two factors as the most important fields ensuring the increase of competitiveness of Europe in the global world. The most important document adopted in this field is the Lisbon Strategy – the set of programmes which are to make the European Union economy the leading world economy by 2010. The essence of the Lisbon Strategy is the pursuit to better use the existing EU potential of labour, knowledge, capital, scale of operation etc, – through the deregulation and marketization on the one hand and the active building of new competitive advantages on the other. This aim is to be achieved by the pro-development disbursement of public funds – for research, education, information society infrastructure.

In Poland, at the national level, the activities for the benefit of information society are conducted in various ministries. „ePoland Strategy for the development of information society in Poland for 2001-2006”, prepared on the model of the European programme „eEurope” is the leading document in the field. The document presents the analysis of needs in the field of the access to information, its scope, means of its transmission and provision as well as outlays necessary to achieve the objectives set in the action plan. One of the main objectives of „ePoland” strategy is to undertake activities aimed at the use of information and communication technologies in order to increase the transparency of the functioning of the public administration sector. The main objective is the transparent State – Citizen relation. Administration using information society technologies is to serve the citizens through its accessibility, confidentiality, credibility and quality – equally on the territory of whole Poland and in relation with information resources of other countries.

Specific objectives

Work on the „Virtual capital” project was divided into four stages, in accordance with the stages of technological development of such projects:

0. Creation of the new image of the service. The building of a new City of Warsaw portal was assumed, which was to indicate the directions of the development of information society projects in the city (front office). The main assumption was the necessity for Warsaw to reduce the backlog in this field and – finally – to achieve a leader position among local government Internet services. Project was launched in September 2003.

1. Publication of information about the official matters In order to ensure the efficient functioning of the portal, the decision was made to base its editing on the WCM (Web Content Management) software. This software was to facilitate adding information to the portal directly by the city employees, who do not have to posses special IT skills. Works on the system based on open source solutions continue from the first half of 2004. Thanks to this fact, it is possible to place the information on current Warsaw City Council activities, dates and agenda of its sessions, planned draft resolutions and the annexes accompanying those draft resolutions. The whole process connected with making administrative decisions was documented: from the initial stage of drawing up a resolution to the presentation of opinions during the process of its adoption. The information base on the content of administrative acts issued by the City authorities was created.

2. Possibility to conclude transactions with the help of Internet, but without interaction After reaching this limit (having the visual part and the tool for efficient content management at the disposal) the decision was made to focus on the successive implementation of e-services. In the second half of 2004 the eWOM (Electronic Citizen Service Department) was launched, which provides the possibility to download the forms from the portal and the description of 234 administrative procedures divided into clear live events categories. On-line Public Procurement Book, which contains the register of tenders announced by the City and its subordinate units, was also launched.

3. Interaction between the user and the application By the end of 2004, it was assumed that the first interactive e-services will be launched, which will enable electronic contact with the administration office, given that the applications of the administration office match the user. In this way the registration of a company, the exchange of driving licenses and the service of changing municipal flats are performed.

4. Comprehensive concluding of transactions through the Internet, including the payments By the end of 2005, the launch of the last stage – full transactionality realized through the Internet – was planned. Back office systems are to be integrated and the administrative processes structured.

Implementation

„Virtual capital”, because of the scope of topics it covered and due to its promotional function, focused on open presentation and friendly public administration, required simultaneous work on several projects at the same time. Thus, the best solution was to built a service consisting of module construction which enables independent build up of individual thematic groups (which present both subject matters – realized by individual Offices, and object matters – realized by thematic groups of editors).

The accepted concept of content presentation assumes the use of module solutions which are reserved homogeneous entirety, so its operating and management of the content presented does not depend on any other thematic areas. Separate modules are connected by a common architecture of the service, accepted graphical solutions and the way of content presentation.

This solution allows to make use of the synergy effect in the creation of a coherent image of Warsaw through the presentation of synthetic, integrated information included in the whole service on the one hand and, on the other hand, through wide and detailed development of thematic modules which constitute the project.

The structure of the project also envisages the development of independent – but functioning within the integrated city portal – subprojects. Those subprojects may be identified through their integral interfaces. Subproject may consist of several elements and may be implemented in several stages (pilot project, which serves to determine the target functionality of the system, demo version, final version). Subprojects are implemented in several steps or working sets. Each working set includes a relatively independent part of works aimed at achieving some of the objectives and specific results.

As far as technological solutions are concerned, the management of thematic modules is in the direct competence of the City of Warsaw through Internet search tool with the use of intuitive interfaces which enable to add and edit content, to define links between documents and sets of documents, to arrange them and modify catalogue structure, to attach files – both predefined and the new ones. Departments that are responsible for managing their module directly were to edit the content themselves.

Such conclusions determined the type of tools used. It appeared impossible to built a static portal with the application elements entered on request, thus it was necessary to use the technology basing on web content management (WCM).
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Impact

An anecdote has it that three experts were asked what a good product is. One of them said that a good product is the one, which fulfils all appropriate norms. Another stated that a good product is the one, which sells best. The last expert said that a good product may be recognized by the fact that through constant improvement it still better meets the expectations of recipients. While developing the „Virtual capital” portal, we try to address the expectations of citizens and even anticipate them slightly.

Within the last 20 months, the number of visits to the portal increased from 30,000 to around one million a month. Varsovians like to visit official Internet service of the city, and they also like to use the information provided there on a daily basis. The interest in particular modules of information presents as follows:
· Our city – 34.9%
· News – 18.4%
· Tourist information – 9.8%
· Address guide to Warsaw – 8.3%
· Cultural Warsaw – 8.0%
· City hall online – 7.8%
· electronic Inhabitants Attendance Department (WOM) – 4.3%
· Information for citizens – 3,7%
· English version – 1.9%
· German version – 1.4%
· French version – 0.6%
· Spanish version – 0.5%
· Russian version – 0.4%

In order to meet the expectations of users in the best way „Virtual capital” portal in monitored by the „gemiusTraffic Professional” tool. Data in the „gemiusTraffic” research are obtained thanks to calculating scripts placed in the code of websites linked to the research. Information on page views are transmitted through the Internet to Gemius calculation center. Registered page views constitute the basis for calculation of indicators of the number of visits and the users. „GemiusTraffic” study uses cookies technology, which allows for the identification of Internet users visiting the monitored websites without infringing their anonymity. Identifier tied to the cookie is read at every page view. Thus, subsequent page views can be grouped into visits attributed to the Internet users. On the basis of those main indicators „gemiusTraffic” calculates a number of figures which in a more precise way describe the traffic on the website. The study allows for detailed analysis of particular visits by the Internet users on a given website and the presentation of clickstreams of an individual user. The study also gathers technical data, such as the versions of used Internet browsers or operating system. Information from the websites covered by the study is stored in the database. On their basis the website record is being updated in real time. The study was awarded a certificate of IAB Polska.

The aim of the study was to learn the Internet users’ opinions concerning official Internet service of the City of Warsaw, to identify its strong and weak points, to check the level of users’ satisfaction with the current form of the service and to recommend the method of increasing the number of service visitors. The analysis of the study results is a complex process, where it should be remembered that during the evaluation of the portal not only the number of users is taken into account but a combination of other indicators: the scope of the website, the characteristics of its users, visit duration and depth, the frequency of returns etc. The aim of the study is to learn the number and the demographic profile of the users and the way in which they use the portal.

Most of the visitors on the Internet service of the City of Warsaw visit it for private reasons (44.5%).Around one third of users combines private and professional motives for the visit, finding the content useful from both of these points of view. The smallest percentage of users declare they use the service solely for professional reasons.

The largest percentage of visitors (43.2%) declare curiosity as the reason for visiting the website. Curiosity is the main reason mostly for those users which visited the website for the first time (49.2%) and those which rarely visit the website – once a week or less (36.9%). In the latter case it demonstrates the loyalty of the users, who visit the service in order to learn what new appeared on the site. The second main reason for the visits on the „Virtual capital” portal is the wish to use the „News” section.

Overall evaluation of the content of the City of Warsaw portal is positive – as many as 60.1% of users assess it as „rather good” or „definitely good”. Users visiting the website for professional reasons have assessed the site 6.7% better than private users (total number of answers „rather good” and „definitely good”). The content of particular sections is generally more positively assessed that the overall content of the service – it results from the fact that it was assessed by the persons who visited directly this section and knew it better than the content of the whole service.

Reliability is what users expect first of all from the service. It is a word associated with such an institution as the City Hall. Users also want to be up to date with what is happening in the city. The most important features of the service indicated by the surveyed persons are the following:
· „Reliable information on Warsaw” (70.8%)
· „Reliable information on the official matters” (65.4%)
· „Updating the information in real time” (62.1%)

The fact that 16.6% of users declare there is nothing lacking on the website means that „Virtual capital” portal is well prepared and that it provides required content.

From among the service users 20.6% cannot define what information is lacking on the website. The fact that it is the most often pronounced statement means that the Internet users, when forced to give a spontaneous answer, are unable to present the plan for the service development. Needs concerning the changes appear only when the users actively use the service and then they lack certain information or functionalities on the website.
The visitors to the service, which visit it for professional reasons, slightly more often declare the need for online contact (53.9%) than private users (49.1%). In both groups „The possibility to collect required forms through the Internet” was indicated as the most attractive idea.

Users, visiting the service for professional reasons, much more often consider attractive the online contacts which will allow them to save time for concluding official transactions.
· „The possibility to collect required forms through the Internet” (5.6% more)
· „The possibility to familiarize oneself with detailed descriptions of transactions concluded at the City of Warsaw” (5.6% more)

The possibility of making payments through the Internet seems to be similarly attractive to both groups. From the point of view of a private user, the most interesting idea is the possibility to use e-signature – 3.6% more of them indicates this possibility in comparison with the users, visiting the service for professional reasons.

Socio-demographic data

Among the surveyed persons, who visited the service of the City of Warsaw, there is more:
· men (52.2%)
· users who completed university education (30.2%)
· professionally active (77.3%)
· administrative and office workers (23.7%), experts (17.4%) and directors or managers (12.4%)
· from the trade and services sector (24.7% of those, whom the question concerned) and local government administration (20.3% of those, whom the question concerned)
· from Polish companies (79.7% of those, whom the question concerned)
· living in Warsaw (71.2%), including living in Warsaw from the date of birth 61.3%.

There is approximately equal number of users from various age groups, however, with the slight overrepresentation of users aged 25-34 (30.6%). It is quite unusual since the Internet users aged below 25 usually constitute the overwhelming majority. In the case of the City of Warsaw website, the profile of users filling in the questionnaires is different due to the content of the website (it is often too serious for the average user, who mostly seeks entertainment).
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Results

„Virtual capital” portal became a popular source of information on the activities of public administration for Varsovians and, thanks to constant dialogue with the citizens, the number of visits to the portal increased from 30,000 to almost one million a month.

The results of surveys indicate that it is also considered to be a credible and reliable source of information about the capital, around 70% of visitors come from Warsaw, which confirms the very precise preparation of the content for the citizens. Studies also indicate high declared loyalty of the users, over 90% of them declared they would visit the website of the City of Warsaw once again. The portal is also positively evaluated by the specialist periodicals. It was awarded the title of „Interesting website” of the WebReporter magazine and the „Website of the day” of the PC World Computer magazine.

The most significant conclusion of the study is high declared loyalty of users – above 90% of them declare to visit the website of the City of Warsaw again. At the same time, the users expect reliable information on Warsaw and the most interesting topics for them are those which concern current live of the capital city. The users find it necessary to create a city portal, which would cover in full the needs for information on Warsaw.

According to researchers who study Internet resources non-standard for Poland, i.e. information on age of the visitors, is also very interesting. There is approximately equal number of users corresponding to specific age groups, however users – age 25-34 are the largest representation (30.6%). Profile of service users is different from the Poland-wide profile due to the content of the Capital City website (it is usually to serious for the regular user looking first of all for entertainment). The researchers noted that the largest group of users who are from Mazowieckie Voivodship (73.6%) confirmed accurate addressing of content towards target groups interesting for the City of Warsaw. The number of users in that voivodship who were answering the questionnaire was similar.

The overall opinion on the service is positive – 60.1% of users find the service „rather good” or „definitely good”. Users visiting the website for a business purpose have assessed the site 6.7% higher than private users (total of answers „rather good” and „definitely good”). The fact that 16.6% of users find everything they need on the website means that it has been well prepared and that it provides required content.

According to the analysis users of the City of Warsaw service want the service to be of Warsaw-wide character. Information being presented should touch the whole spectrum of problems concerning citizens of Warsaw.

1. News Headlines
Web site presenting current news, announcements, Mayor’s Ordinances, resolutions and information on sessions of Councils, information on tenders and organized public tenders. This site contains also internet version of Municipal Gazette.

2. Our City
This part includes basic information about Warsaw, its history, city’s official symbols, famous people having connections with Polish capital. We also present current statistical and economic data on the city. There you can also find practical street map with names of the streets and broad gallery of Warsaw pictures. We also make available multimedia materials: films, wallpapers, screen savers. The biggest interest of the visitors arouses dynamic street map (GIS).

3. City Hall online
City’s authorities put great emphasis on transparency of public administration actions, that is why within the official web site was also launched Public Information Bulletin (www.bip.warszawa.pl), fully online official journal of Warsaw.
We were obliged to do so by the act on access to public information and obligations towards the citizens who have the right to know how local administration acts and functions, how decisions are taken, by whom and why.
This site is prepared simultaneously in all Departments of the Office, appointed clerks are responsible for placing content directly in their modules. Realized this way, dispersed structure is presented as a uniform web site.

4. eWOM – Electronic Citizen Service Department
The site also houses ‚electronic office’ (www.wom.warszawa.pl) – open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, providing the citizens with information on administrative services.
The web site is prepared for the introduction of a system enabling fully electronic provision of public services, and systems providing self-service access to departments responsible for e-services for citizens, in accordance with assumptions of e-government programmes.
Each of the above-described procedures includes detailed description (information sheet) of conduct, list of necessary documents required to settle the matter, information on charges, realisation dates and ways of appealing against administrative decision. Procedures are also attached with necessary forms and applications that can be downloaded. Completed printed application forms should be submitted in the office in person.
When regulations connected to electronic signature come into force it will be possible to settle matters directly on-line.
At present instructions of 253 administration matters, divided into live events are being published.
By the end of this year it will be possible to on-line register a car. At present we are testing an application performing function of ‚electronic clerk’ – helping step by step to fill in a complete car registration application form. It is based on detailed information sheets of procedures and divided into several stages of entering the data. The data are verified at each stage of registration and may be revised. The form filled in that way is ready for submitting.

5. Register of Public Tenders
Openness of actions of the Warsaw City Office is also ensured by the Register of Public Tenders available on-line. The register of tenders announced by the city and its units was published in the internet. The interested persons may browse the currently updated list according to various criteria.
City’s web pages also include list of outlets that were granted licences on alcohol sale.
There will be more and more information in the web on permits, licences and concessions granted by the Warsaw City Office.

6. Information for companies
Information for Warsaw businesses and investors interested in Warsaw. Apart from a entrepreneur handbook discussing issues connected to operation of a company, in this part of the web site there is also information about European programmes directed to SME.
There is also detailed presentation of Warsaw’s investing potential, city’s economic indices and investment offers.
In October 2003, Warsaw as the second city in Poland, made possible on-line registration of economic activity. Now just one visit to the Office is enough. The available on the web pages, economic activity register definitely simplified the procedure of business registering. To register a company you just have to on-line fill in the form and wait for confirmation of registration

7. Tourist Guide-book
Tourist guide-book is directed to tourists. It tries to guess their needs and data they expect to find. Thanks to the guide-book tourists planning to visit Warsaw may precisely plan their journey. This part of city’s web site includes address bases, walk routes proposed by guides, descriptions of historic monuments, city’s street map, and map of stops of public transport. Everything is supplemented with photographs and albums presenting the city and its nearest surroundings.
There is also a real hit – Virtual walks through the Old City, 35 3-D panoramas showing in detail historic monuments listed in UNESCO’s Word Heritage book and a unique panorama – view of Warsaw from the inaccessible for visitors 35th floor of the Palace of Culture and Science.

8. A Guide-book for Citizens
A guide-book addressed mainly to the citizens of Warsaw. It includes guidance relating to safety issues, addresses and ways of contacting Police and district constables. Current information on planned public gatherings.
Consumer information site, educational site. Broad information on social issues, including directed to the disabled persons. Job guidance, information for employers and jobless. There is also information on city’s functioning In European structures.

9. Little Citizen of Warsaw Site
It presents to the children in an attractive way the history of Warsaw, legends connected to the city. It also offers games, colouring books and other attractions. The pages are showed round by cartoon characters.
On interactive, masterfully designed pages you can also find encyclopaedia including terms concerning the history of the city and its famous citizens; it is composed from comments and drawings of the children.
There is also a small artist’s column with colouring books, a program for creating portraits and competition drawings. There are arcade games for children, a calculator, school time table and a calendar. The site teaches and amuses.

10. eApartment – municipal apartment change service
Poland’s fist on-line service making possible changing municipal apartments, whose aim is to help in adjusting municipal resources to citizens’ needs.
By means of a special form including basic information about an apartment you can put an ad in it. Persons looking for flats may specify their requirements: size, metric area, city district, etc. The offers may be searched in the whole city as well as through the district filter. By means of the internet it will also be possible to contact the person interested in the flat change.
Clerks designated for this purpose will help (in running as well as in searching for offers) persons who do not have access to the internet.

11. Healthy Warsaw
Service prepared for the Health Policy Office, presenting health issues. Apart from information on current activities of the Office, realized programmes, investments and plans, the service will make it possible to familiarize oneself with „Health Map of Warsaw” – address base of the health care units.
There will be also another important and sought-after information, namely list of units being on emergency service.
A large part of the service was devoted to prevention issues. Successively, it will be enriched by guidance within the scope of health protection, in blocks assigned to particular seasons of the year.

12. Cultural Warsaw
„Cultural Warsaw” broad guide-book, whose most important element is updated every day repertoire information on cultural events taking place, information on cultural institutions and cultural units. Caring about the topicality of the cultural offer we worked out a system making possible entering those data directly by cultural institutions co-operating with us. As for the merits, the works are supervised by Culture Department.
Interactive and intuitive calendar makes it possible to plan one’s free time. The events are divided into legible categories facilitating searching and familiarizing oneself with details of the invitation. Each information includes data, place, information about prices, detailed description of the event.

13. Warsaw Address Directory
The directory contains information necessary in everyday functioning of the city and those that are useful for everyone who visits Warsaw.
It is divided into clear thematic categories: administration and institutions, city’s services, health protection, science and education, media and news, culture and arts, tourism, sports and recreation, and leisure. Additionally, there are some links to interesting Warsaw web sites.

Learning points

Local government is based on the participation of citizens in the governance. Citizens should not only know the programme of city authorities activities but also believe that this activity meets their needs and interests. In large cities maintaining contact between the authorities and citizens is especially difficult. Therefore, the Warsaw authorities put great emphasis on the possibility to use information society solutions in the relations between the administration offices and the citizens. Social distance is too large. Therefore, what people see around them is important for the building of confidence of citizens to their authorities. The wide use and adaptation of telecommunications and information tools, systems and techniques in everyday life became our priority. The abstractive notion of „information society” became the symbol of modernity, creativity, freedom and prosperity as well as the synonym of interactive dialogue with the citizens. Citizens’ right to information on the activities of administration is treated very seriously and extended Internet projects developed by the City of Warsaw serve this very purpose.

Transparency of the activities of administration is a very important factor for us, which results from our basic axiom: citizens have the right to know how the public administration functions, and the administration is obliged to provide this knowledge on the level of quality similar to the services of the private sector. The responsibility to present this information rested directly on the Promotion Department, responsible for the image of Warsaw on the Internet.

According to the information policy conducted by the City of Warsaw, on the official city portal „Virtual capital” the whole process connected with making administrative decisions is documented: from the initial stage to the presentation of positions during the process of their adoption, the information on the content of administrative acts adopted by the city authorities is presented as well as the documents concerning both the city authorities and the local government bodies.

In order to widen the adopted principle of presenting complete information on the activities of authorities performing public takes, we pointed to the necessity of launching such procedures also in the districts. Currently, both on the Warsaw portal and on the Internet services of the districts, detailed information on the activities of current term councils are provided. In order to make available the archive information concerning the previous terms in office, the decision was made to successively transform the archives into electronic form and to publish them on the Internet.

Online Public Procurement Book also contributes to the transparency of activities. The register of tenders announced by the city and its subordinate units is also published on the Internet. The interested parties may search the constantly updated list by different criteria. The websites of the city also provide the list of establishments which received a permit to sell alcohol.

„Electronic office” operates within the portal and is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It provides the citizens with information on administrative services. eWOM (Electronic Citizen Service Department) is being prepared to implement the system allowing for fully electronic provision of public services and self-service access to departments responsible for e-services for the citizens, in accordance with the assumptions of e-government programmes.
Each of the described procedures contains the exact description (information card) of the process, a list of necessary documents, information on fees, deadlines for the conclusion of the transaction and the methods of appeal against an administrative decision. Necessary forms and applications to download are attached to the procedures. The printed out application should be submitted personally at the administration office. When the legal regulations connected with the electronic signature enter into force, it will be possible to conclude transactions directly online. Currently, the instructions of 253 administrative matters are published with the division to life events.
In October 2003, as the second city in Poland, we launched an online registration of companies. Apart from the special Internet service for entrepreneurs, it was another facilitation for the representatives of the SME sector. Now only one visit at the administration office is sufficient. The economic activity register base, available on the websites, considerably simplified the business registration procedure. In order to register a company, it is enough to fill in a form online and wait for the confirmation of the registration. During the filling in of the form, the interactive help files marked with icons may be used. The way of conduct during the registration was described with the procedure information card, which gives the legal basis, determines the required documents, the responsible unit, the amounts of necessary fees and the deadlines and appeal procedures.
In December 2004 we launched online registration of vehicles. The application (performing the function of „electronic clerk”) available on the Internet helps to prepare a complete application for vehicle registration step by step. It is based on detailed information cards of procedures and is divided into several stages of data insertion. On each stage the data is verified and may be complemented. The application prepared in this way is ready to be submitted.

The rates of rents for business premises rented from the city are also published on the Internet. This fact was highly assessed by the circles dealing in the transparency of public life. It was equally positively received by Warsaw entrepreneurs. In the Warsaw portal, there appeared also the first in Poland Internet service which allows for the exchange of municipal flats and aims at supporting the adjustment of public housing resources to the needs of citizens. With the help of a special form containing the basic information on the flat, an offer announcement may be published in the portal. People looking for offers may determine the parameters of the flat: size, district etc. The offers may be searched in the whole city as well as through the district filter. The person providing the offer may also be contacted through the Internet. Persons who do not have the access to Internet are assisted (both in the placing and searching for offers) by the clerks designated for that purpose.

We also launched the service with the information concerning the taxes and local fees imposed on the entrepreneurs running a business, which contains among others the list of the Warsaw City Council resolutions, determining the tax rates and the templates of declaration forms, the list of bank accounts, on which taxes and local fees should be paid and the fiscal fee with the division into districts. There is also the template of the application for the certificate of having no outstanding tax contribution or of the amount of outstanding tax.

In a special thematic block, the templates of documents (including the templates of financial reports) are provided for non-governmental organizations applying for grants. Our service for NGOs also publishes the announcements and address bases of Warsaw non-governmental organizations.

Although we operate an increasing number of systems allowing to improve the contacts with citizens, the questions which exceed the functionality of those systems appear in the everyday work of the administration. We notice that in order to find the answers to them, it is necessary to combine various types of information and providing it to the interested parties so that they could find the most useful information from all sources.

Today both the citizens and the entrepreneurs assume in advance that the level of services offered by the service companies is high (friendly and polite attitude to the customer, the provision of one service through several channels, comfortable and fast indirect service in several customer service centers, providing information and concluding transactions through the Internet, telephone, mobile telephone). They expect the same from the administration. They require the local government to provide services of the quality equal to that provided by the private sector.

Therefore, we considered the necessity to implement CRM (Customer Relationship Management) application, which supports the contact with the customer and contains both the modules of management and the servicing of citizens, to be a strategic solution. We want the system to direct the resources and methods of operation in order to improve the services to the citizen and to focus the services on his needs.
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