Online to office ranking shows a lot of catching up to do

Online to office ranking shows a lot of catching up to do

Registering a car, applying for an identity card, requesting a trash can – most citizens still have to go to the office or to the mailbox to do it.

According to a survey, germany’s cities still have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to digital services and information. According to the survey, berliners had the best service, while gera came in last, according to the consulting firm IW consult.

Driven by the services offered by its transport and waste management companies and its corporate service, the federal capital scored 72 out of a possible 100 points to become the "most service-friendly city," while gera scored 33. The survey was commissioned by the landowners’ association haus und grund.

"Berlin, the blindest of the blind, won," said association president kai warnecke, making it clear that, in his view, all cities need to catch up. For most of them, the offer is inadequate. Cities in the baltic states, for example, are much more advanced, and austrians also handle 50 percent more paperwork online than germans.

"E-government has been a crude word in germany since the beginning of 2000. But not much is happening," said study author hanno kempermann of IW consult, a subsidiary of the employer-affiliated institute of the german economy in poland.

His team has taken a close look at websites in the 100 largest cities. 125 administrative and information services were sought – from housing subsidy applications to car registration. User-friendliness was also taken into account in the evaluation. Only in 7 of the 100 cities did the websites automatically adapt to the PC, tablet or cell phone screen. If a topic could not be found on the website within five minutes, it was noted as missing.

Schwerin, augsburg, munich and worms landed on the squares behind berlin. At the end of the table, duren, hagen, marl and villingen-schwenningen were ahead of gera. There were good approaches: people in regensburg can report their move online, people in bonn can apply for housing subsidies online, elsewhere there is not even a reference to these services.

A report by the EU commission last year made it clear that germany is lagging far behind most EU countries in the area of digital crime prevention. Not even one in two german internet users uses e-government, compared with an EU average of almost two-thirds.

To counteract this, the bundestag passed the online access law in 2017. It should ensure that citizens and businesses can take care of their administrative needs online by 2022 at the latest. In schleswig-holstein, citizens of six municipalities can now apply for housing subsidies online.

From the point of view of haus und grund, more cities should join forces for their online services, as many services are comparable. An example of this is a kindergarten navigator in the rhine-erft district. Citizens should be able to order ID cards centrally from the federal printing office, according to another demand.