BackgroundMeet Katja, the persona created at Wigo4it that inspired this concept. She is a single mother living in the Netherlands who is busy looking for a job while receiving the last month of her unemployment benefits. Because she has just gotten a divorce, she needs to find financial support for the coming months. She will apply for local social benefits and she will continue to live in this emotional and financial rollercoaster: from feeling relieved of having found a solution for the next months, to being frustrated and uncertain in a complex digital journey influenced by multiple government organizations (employee insurance agency, municipality, tax office, among others). Her income is affected by around 20 different regulations (read more about regulations in this blog written by Larissa Zegveld- in Dutch). Katja has no idea if she can count on income coming month, nor how much it would be. She is also afraid of possible returns or, even worse, building up a debt with the government.
Fragmented interaction with multiple government agencies: users are forced to fill in their data multiple times in different systems, even if the government already has access to their data. They are also expected to know or find out by themselves which specific government organization they must approach based on the needed service or support.
Lack of a financial overview in a financially vulnerable situation: citizens do not know how much money they will be receiving in total from all social benefits being offered by the different government agencies. They are also not aware of how their live events (such as marital status, or one-time additional income) affect their right to those social benefits, fluctuating the amount of money they receive.
Information overload: citizens in this journey are required to search, process and understand information spread throughout different websites and systems that belong to the same or to different government organizations. They are also approached by different organizations in different ways (letters, emails, phone calls) and are expected to reply and/or take action despite the possible confusion due to the effort required in order to process all the information involved.
Overheid Me is a visionary concept created to experiment with future digital journeys supporting citizens such as Katja. The product envisions the integration of a digital identity management solution and multiple government data bases and systems, empowering users with a one government digital experience, following these principles:
Ease of use: Overheid Me envisions an integration with a Digital Identity manager, enabling citizens to decide on and manage their data effectively in their interaction with multiple government agencies. No more multiple filling in of the same data for a government-related process.
Insightful: citizens using social benefits get access to an overview of the amount of money they will (most probably) be getting in advance. They can also check and learn about how their social benefits fluctuate according to changes in their life events (e.g. when finding a temporary job for a few hours).
Personalized: information is adjusted to the needs and situation of the user. Users can check their rights, and evaluate the impact of changes based on their specific situation without having to read multiple information sources. The information provided is not only personalized but also trustable because it comes from the organization which is responsible for implementing the related policies.
The following are methods and key concepts used to approach the creation of Overheid Me:
Journey mapping current and new situations
Iterative prototyping (visual, interactive and tech)
NL Design System
User Testing (concept evaluation)
Overheid Me envisions a trustable platform where all government agencies can provide their services to citizens creating a smooth ‘one experience’ feeling for them. As a metaphor, Overheid Me would be like the Amazon of government agencies: municipalities, ministries and other citizen related services agencies would then become the trusted vendors offering their services through a platform that integrates them all in a one government experience for their clients, the citizens.
The concept has been partially implemented with interactive and working prototypes, becoming one of the first concrete contributions to a shared vision nationwide of a digital government. The challenges and lessons learned so far with this experimental product are being transformed into shorter-term solutions and apps currently being developed by municipalities, VNG, GBI and multiple commercial parties involved in the realization of technology and solutions around a ‘one government’ experience.
Developing this concept from scratch has been a pleasure from a user experience design and innovation perspective. A positive side effect of it has been the expansion of my network in the digital government field. While working on Overheid Me I was not only in touch with citizens in the target group of the solution, but also with professionals in organisations such as Dutch municipalities, Gebruiker Centraal, MensCentraal, VNG, Haagse Hogeschool, (Service) Design agencies, and Consultancy firms, among others.
Overheid Me was presented in the Inspiration Lab on Tour (see report about it (in Dutch), and mentioned in this letter to the chairman of the House of Representatives (in Dutch).
The product made use of the NL Design System. More information about the experience of using this Design System is available in this article (in Dutch).