Give a voice to the people
I recently spoke with Tasos Pagakis, a colleague in our Mediterranean regional division, about some interesting findings in a study of the Greek market. Tasos is passionate about the potential of technology to unite, engage and empower whole societies especially in his home country of Greece, so I asked him to write a guest blog about the research findings.
Not long ago I remember queuing for 3 hours in the tax office. They‘ve sent me back to bring a bank certificate and in the end they also needed a birth certificate to certify me (so it was back again to the municipality). Two hours driving, half a day of lost work and aching feet. This experience raised an important question: what would real people say, when asked how technology can improve our lives? And can this be achieved through simple and practical solutions that impact to the needs of citizens, families and professionals?
At Ericsson Greece, we decided to give a voice to the views of regular citizens and ask them how technology can improve the public and private life of the whole country. In two weeks, we got answers to an online survey from 1,040 citizens. We were surprised by the fact that citizens proposed many practical solutions. For them, technology isn’t “infrastructure”, or “big national broadband plans”, but a tool to lead to a better life. Over 90 percent agreed that Networked Society could change public life for the better (for example by eliminating bureaucracy and standing queues, easier access to services from home etc). Respondents’ answers were clear – their expectation is to turn technology into a service tool that will improve:
• Public sector and utility services (e.g. though access platform, improved speed of service and quality of customer issues handling)
• The national economic growth plan (e.g. by creating startups, export communities, marketplaces for Greek-origin products and tourism development)
• Productivity of domestic small-medium enterprises’
• Educational system in both content and delivery (e.g. through access to cloud content, new teaching methods, connection with communities abroad, open access to low or no cost- educational content though e-learning).
• Health services that save time from time-strapped citizens (e.g. through the use smartphones for booking appointments, a medical history database for every citizen and online medical advice).
• Improved public transport systems (e.g. real-time info about the arrival and connection times, e-ticketing for all devices and real-time traffic updates).
• Governance and collaboration between all authorities in the country (e.g. through a system to submit problems and complaints, digital channels to get live feed feedback, e-delivery of public documents and certificates, e-voting, open public consultations, and transparency controls for government).
In the survey, there was no right or wrong answer. It only consisted of many multiple choice questions. The online survey was conducted in December 2013, under the scientific supervision of ELTRUN, the e-Business Research Center of Athens University of Economics and Business, with support by Ericsson.
The findings were presented on in February 2014. They main insight for governments, authorities, and operators: people see technology as the tool for social, public and economic progress for the society as a whole. If we listen to them, we will plan better technology solutions with a citizen-centric mindset. The Networked Society is from the people, for the people and by the people.
The infographic below shares a few of the key findings: