Increasing public sector efficiency through knowledge management
The work of immigration officials in Milan and homecare workers in four Finnish municipalities has become more efficient since the start of this year when the IST project KIWI began testing a knowledge management system aimed at turning civil servants into collaborative knowledge workers.
The Web-based and mobile-accessible KIWI platform enables the acquisition, integration, analysis and sharing of distributed information in multimedia formats, overcoming many of the problems caused by the complex communication and workflow processes that exist within and between government departments. The trials at the beginning of this year have led to the adoption of the system at the Italian and Finnish pilot sites, with public administrations in other European regions currently interested in testing the platform.
“Public administrations in general have shown themselves to be very keen on the KIWI solutions as they have seen the benefits of the adoption of the platform,” explains KIWI scientific coordinator Emilio Bugli Innocenti at NETXCALIBUR in Italy.
According to Alberto Savoldelli, the administrative coordinator of the project at AIP in Italy, those benefits can be summed up as “efficiency, transparency and quality of service within administrations, and between administrations and citizens.”
Most significantly, the platform can effectively be used in any area of government, as clearly shown by the trials.
Trials underline the benefits
In the Prefecture of Milan, KIWI was set up to create a collaborative environment between 45 regional immigration workers, police officials and employees of the Interior Ministry to better manage immigrants’ residency permit requests stemming from the introduction of a new law governing family reunification. Since the various departments had to effectively start from scratch in handling thousands of petitions, the scenario was an important testing ground for KIWI.
“All the necessary information was put into a single workflow process within the platform, making civil servants more efficient in handling their tasks,” Savoldelli notes. “Given that immigration management involves many different administrations from the Interior Ministry to police, and regional and local authorities, the system overcame the communications problems that existed previously. We noticed that civil servants reduced the time it took them to process requests, something that evidently results in cost savings for administrations and an increase in the quality of services they provide to the public.”
The residency requests of around 3,500 immigrants were managed by the system during the trial, although many more have been handled since.
In Finland, the KIWI platform showed similar benefits, albeit in very different circumstances. In the four Finnish municipalities, the system was used to provide information access and exchange to 30 home care workers looking after 130 elderly people. “It consisted of giving home care employees access to the information they need when they need it, providing them with support when they are out in the field and allowing them, for example, to improve their diagnosis of ailments and better manage patient care,” the administrative coordinator says.
The KIWI platform explained
The KIWI platform is built around two central sets of components – knowledge warehousing tools and mobile groupware. The former is essentially an intelligent Web-services database that handles content management, user profiles and the gathering, organisation and extraction of information from all relative sources. The latter tool set represents the communication and collaboration heart of KIWI, providing messaging, group networking and community services to civil servants over wireless devices in a variety of multimedia formats from video and images to text and audio.
“Combined, the two elements create a platform that assists public workers in their day-to-day activities by giving them access to information at anytime, anywhere,” Savoldelli notes, emphasising that it overcomes the geographical and communication barriers that have existed to date between dispersed public workforces.
“The KIWI solution leverages the relationships between public administrations’ organisational processes, people and technology to collect and share the right information with the right people at the right time in order to improve productivity and quality of service,” adds Bugli Innocenti.
Though public administrations are generally considered to be lagging behind the private sector in their adoption of knowledge management solutions, there is nonetheless a trend toward improving workflow processes within the scope of moves toward e-government, the coordinators say. There are several key differences in the knowledge management systems needed by government offices, however.
“Public administrations require customised, dedicated systems that reflect their organisational structure and their work processes,” Savoldelli explains. “From a technological and methodological viewpoint, the difference between the private and public sector lies in designing systems that fit into the way public administrations operate and the way they handle information exchange.”
The Italian and Finnish trials showed that the KIWI system amply covers those needs, leading other public administrations to consider adopting the system.
“Public administrations in Europe and even Asia have asked to trial the KIWI services and agreements with them are under discussion,” Bugli Innocenti says.
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Emilio Bugli Innocenti
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Source: Based on information from KIWI
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