Election 2019: Technology to improve relations between citizens and the administration

The political parties fighting the local elections in 2019 answer questions posed by Para Una Xabia Sostenible based on the EDUSI project

Question 7

We must work towards an electronic government focused on citizen attention. Overcoming language barriers 

The aim is to continue improving the use of ICT and technology to improve relations between citizens and the administration, improving public information and overcoming "linguistic barriers" that separate older people of foreign origin. Do you think there has been progress? 

How can this be improved?

Compromis reply

Valencian society has been multilingual since the Middle Ages and will continue to be so in the future. The efforts that have been made the last four years since the Generalitat in the education system, the administration and the public media in the last legislature are in the sense of ensuring that Valencian people speak and write fluently in Valencian, Castilian and a foreign language, which is usually English. So for the moment if we perceive an advance, but that, like all major transformations, it will surely take time to notice.

At a local level, we do not believe that it is a matter of technology as much as of coexistence. In Xàbia we have entities in which people of different origins and nationalities coexist; we have good examples of collaboration such as language courses for the unemployed by our citizens of Central and North-European origin; theatre and cooking workshops in English at IES N.1 or cultural initiatives such as Amics del Museu, where different languages ​​and knowledge are put at the service of culture and heritage. In this sense, and in line with what is done in a large part of Europe and we have already commented previously, we propose to have a more fluid relationship between administration and civil society; we need people of reference with different origins, languages, profiles and interests that help citizens in administrative procedures, look for work or start a business. This person-to-person contact seems to us the most important: technology is a help, but it is important that there is a person on the other side.

Undoubtedly, in this decade we have made progress, with the Ciutadà Assistance Office, the New Town Hall or the Help Desk, but many challenges remain. To make a modern Administration we lack resources, younger staff and to invest in training: in languages ​​but also in management and adapted to new needs. One of our star proposals is to hire support staff to unclog the Town Council, especially in hiring, which includes aspects such as electronic administration. We have a lot to do and we hope to do it together.

PSOE reply

Our administration has improved a lot in that sense. We have the OAC (Office for the Attention to Citizens) which centralizes any management with the administration in a fast and agile way.  And a transparency portal has been installed on the municipal website, to find out requirements for and status of procedures at any time, as well as relevant documentation for citizens. There is also the Xabia Connecta app which allows anyone, just with your mobile phone, to report urban damage, track the status of your complaint, etc. Also the OAC includes is the Help Desk, which is provided in different languages, in addition to the Administration officials who are Castilian and Valencian. And in different areas of the Town Hall, as in the mayor’s office an effort is made to attend to people in English and German.
We are aware that Xàbia must be a great project of international coexistence and that language can never be an obstacle.

Partido Popular reply

Xàbia is a multicultural municipality and the lack of information for citizens is the cause of the lack of integration. Therefore, both the municipal website and the information on cultural, sporting and fiscal activities should be in Spanish, Valenciano and English.

It should give an important boost in the improvement of digital communication with citizens. The City Council must use its knowledge to promote the participation of citizens in the efficient and sustainable use of information and communication technologies.

Electronic self-management should be encouraged; they have to carry out immersion courses to self-management, as well as create points of assisted self-management in the three urban centres, in the Port and in the Arenal they could be located in the Tourist Offices, with a citizen attention office (OAC) in the old town.

Xàbia should be integrated into the Spanish Network of Intelligent Cities (RECI) to promote economic, social and business progress in cities through innovation and knowledge, based on information and communication technologies (ICT).

Ciudadanos reply

We must invest, immediately, to be a one-click administration, to improve decision-making and that the municipal administration, among others, offer solutions and not obstacles, and for this, it is essential that we guarantee trilingualism in all administrative procedure and means of communication with the Town Council. The municipal website must also be in English and in an understandable language. In an eminently globalized world like the one we are in, we do not want linguistic barriers of any kind, nor in a web page that should be for everyone.

In addition, we understand that there is a long way to go. We want ICT to bring the citizen to the Administration in many aspects, not only we encounter barriers at the linguistic level, but also bureaucratic and with excessive delays in communications. From Ciudadanos we would ensure that the Town Council is on the side of citizens through fluid communication channels, through social networks so that citizen attention is given individually to any complaint or doubt. As well as, we will promote and value our products and services, to explain in a clear and simple way through the municipal website, where it is invested, where is the collection of the Town Council as well as to raise awareness about the care of our environment, our natural wealth and the importance of combating climate change.

Podemos reply

I believe that great improvements have been made in communication, especially with foreign residents, but I also believe that much remains to be done. Transparency is not only a matter of language: I speak four, but many contents of the "Transparency Portal" of the City Council are very difficult to discover (know where they are) and sometimes to understand (especially in the area of urban planning, I challenge you to do the test). In Podemos we advocate introducing a summary of these contents in simple language, legally non-binding, so that citizens, regardless of their level of education, can easily understand what is happening in the town hall.

The other side and application of ICT is participation. In matters of such importance as the auditorium, the municipal swimming pool or the coastal path "Senda del Litoral" (the much-needed restructuring of the Primer Montañar area), I think it is acceptable to ask the opinion of the people, an easy task with the new technologies. And this does not mean, as the mayor said recently in public, to delegate the responsibility to assembly decisions, but citizen participation.

Ciudadanos por Jávea reply

The implementation of new information and communication technologies (ICT) applied to the administration is no longer an option that a municipal government team has, it is a legal obligation.

The challenge lies in citizen attention and transparency, and there is still a long way to go. For new technologies to be effective, it must be based on a solid communication project that reduces the bureaucratization of procedures and makes them accessible to citizens. and if the elderly or foreign citizens, whether tourists or workers, need personalized assistance, it must be provided. Language must not be an obstacle, nor excessive bureaucracy.

Regarding transparency, I would add that the citizen wants to know what is going on in the Town Hall, and to know in real time what the Mayor's Office decides, what the Governing Board agrees, and not to be told the number of visits by the Mayor or his agenda. In fact, any citizen to the website of the Town Hall, Portal of Transparency, the phrase that repeats itself is: No s'han trobat elements (no items are found). Alcaldia expenses: No s'han trobat elements - Plans and programs of objectives: No s'han trobat elements - Full Minutes 2019: No s'han trobat elements - Blessed Transparency

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