Last year our technicians advised the Madrid City Council on how to deploy participatory budget websites. On the Madrid Decides site, more than 200,000 people from Madrid recently voted on various public projects.
In addition to infrastructure consulting, DIGITAL55 developed one of the most relevant transparency portals, where councilors and senior officials make their agendas and meetings public.
Free public platform code
Leaving aside political opinions on participatory budgets, there is one part of the Madrid City Council’s approach that is worth discussing: the digital platforms developed by its technicians are being published as a free code in GITHUB. Any other city council can download the platform, adapt it, and enrich it with new functional modules to later be shared with other pubic entities. The code Madrid Decides (Consul) can be downloaded here. One of the high ranking agendas that DIGITAL55 developed is here.
The public resource savings from this approach could be enormous. If the supply of public services is similar between entities, the processes and technologies that support those services should also be. Therefore, this collaborative approach makes sense among public entities, both for the development of proprietary platforms and the joint purchase of licenses, in the case of proprietary technologies.
The digital platforms developed by its technicians are being published as free code in GITHUB.
However, the public purchase of technology is precisely the opposite. It is normal to stumble over public tenders that repeat the same project over and over again in municipalities and autonomous communities. A very emblematic case is tourism promotion. Dozens of legal tenders have been published to create websites that reveal the tourist resources of communities and municipalities. A small sample here, here, here, here or here.
Promoting tourism rests on digital sites that all carry out the same functions. It is worth analyzing whether a single technological base, which shares, adapts and scales public entities, is a more economical and efficient alternative than designing and programming fifty different tourism promotion portals.
The case is the same in transparency, good governance, press rooms, tools for management of queries, apps to report incidents and more processes behind the public services provided by municipalities and communities.
It is normal to stumble over public tenders that repeat the same project over and over again in municipalities and autonomous communities.
“It is normal to stumble over public tenders that repeat the same project over and over again in municipalities and autonomous communities.
A unique direction for technology
Companies use technological differentiation to compete for the market, but public administrations do not compete to attract citizens. They are more like a single company that provides its services through branches. Therefore, it makes sense that they work with a single technological direction or a model nearby.
Sharing technology saves resources without restricting the ability of entities to customize their services or innovate procedures. Open bases can be enriched with new functionalities and have sufficient flexibility to create different digital faces.
According to data from the TIC Adjudications portal, public administrations in 2016 awarded more than 700 million euros in tenders related to software, excluding IT consulting and outsourcing services. The principles of economy and efficiency of public investments should be above ideologies and parties. The figures deserve reflection.