Please provide a brief summary of the initiative including the problems/challenges it addressed and the solutions that the initiative introduced (300 words maximum)
The Government of Catalonia has launched the gencatGRAM application to record all the data and activity from the various active digital channels linked to the Government (social networks, websites, applications, etc.) within one environment. All the data have been open, so that citizens can be able to consult the information distributed in the official channels on the various platforms. The new tool, which can be consulted online through the website http://activitat.serveisdigitals.gencat.cat, enhances transparency and critical evaluation by citizens and other governments. It is a decisive step towards attention to the public based on the principles of open governance, inclusiveness and participation. Because of these principles, society must monitor the work of governments and administrations, and determine the effectiveness and validity of the resources and instruments created.
GencatGRAM is part of the Government of Catalonia’s 2017-2018 Open Government Plan that gathers together all public policies aimed at consolidating, improving and strengthening open government in Catalonia. It establishes five areas of action: transparency, open data, good governance, citizen participation and cultural change, with over 100 actions to develop them.
Implementation of this plan and gencatGRAM also matches the Catalan government’s efforts to establish an online presence that is coherent with its innovative, multi-channel public service strategy. The Government of Catalonia is a pioneer in the use of digital communication tools and in producing reference manuals, such as the Social Networks Guide of the Generalitat of Catalonia (2010) and the Twitter Manual for Governments (2017).
a. What are the overall objectives of the initiative?
Please describe the overall objectives of the initiative (200 words maximum)
1. Gathering in a single environment data on social media, mobile apps and, in the future, transactions, websites, messaging services and any other Catalan government digital channels previously only accessible to their service managers. Subsequently including phone and on-site channels.
2. Building apps, dashboards, data sources for research, widgets, web components and other services and data stored in gencatGRAM.
3. Optimising the government’s digital public services and encouraging service managers to learn from the most successful profiles.
4. Fostering critical assessment on the part of the public regarding the effectiveness and validity of the resources used and thus favouring participation in public decision-making.
b. How does the initiative fit within the selected category?
Please describe how the initiative is linked to the criteria of the category (200 words maximum)
GencatGRAM fosters the consolidation of inclusive and participative public administration. Indeed, one of its goals is to promote cross-organisational cooperation and a culture of public participation in the Government of Catalonia. The idea is for the application to help develop strategies that combine data generation with the ability to impact on the public and provide citizens with information relevant to their involvement in participative processes, stable participation areas and any other participative channels.
Thus, gencatGRAM represents a form of understanding the relationship between citizens and government based on open public information, using collective intelligence and co-creating public policy, while also being accountable to the public.
The initiative should improve people’s lives, notably by enhancing the contribution of public services to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the realization of the SDGs
a. Please explain how the initiative improves the delivery of public services (200 words maximum)
With gencatGRAM, data from social networks, mobile applications and in the future, procedures, websites, instant messenger and any digital channel, are included in a single environment and made transparent. To date, they had only been accessible to those responsible for these services in the ministries and agencies concerned. At the same time, it also shows that the primary consumer of a government’s open data is the government itself, since other accounts can use this information to enhance their presence and learn from other more successful profiles, as well as to find interesting content to share with their audience.
GencatGRAM thus demonstrates the Catalan government’s aim of consolidating and spreading transparent public policies that improve the quality of democracy and public services ensure the accountability and ethical behaviour of the government and everyone who works or collaborates with it and foster permanent, two-way dialogue with the public.
The initiative must impact positively a group or groups of the population (i.e. children, women, elderly, people with disability, etc) and address a significant issue of public service delivery within the context of a given country or region.
a. Please explain how the initiative has addressed a significant issue related to the delivery of public services (200 words maximum)
An open government is one that provides citizens with the information it generates, listens to them, fosters their participation in the life cycle of public policy, sets quality standards and systematically assesses their compliance.
In addition, an efficient public service is one that can share, and also be assessed through, the same environments as the public: digital channels.
GencatGRAM overcomes these two traditional deficiencies in executing public services. It is a new model for its relationship with the public, which is more widely decentralised and distributed than the more vertical classical model that has predominated in recent times.
b. Please explain how the initiative has impacted positively a group or groups of the population within the context of your country or region (200 words maximum)
GencatGRAM not only ensures transparency in the Catalan government’s digital services, but also favours participation in decision-making by people or groups that are normally excluded. In this context, the application encourages the interaction of these groups with intermediate publics, such as civil organisations and experts in public participation. Through such intermediaries, the Catalan government can listen to and involve citizens in the design of public policy through participative processes to draw up strategic plans, master plans, usage plans and territorial plans.
With regard to digital public services in particular, gencatGRAM enables citizens to monitor government and administrative activity on the social media, websites, mobile services and other digital public service channels, assess their effectiveness and decide whether to continue investing public resources in them. Later on it will also be possible to include phone and on-site services.
The initiative must present an innovative idea, a distinctively new approach, or a unique policy or approach implemented in order to realize the SDGs in the context of a given country or region.
a. Please explain in which way the initiative is innovative in the context of your country or region (200 words maximum)
GencatGRAM provides a single interface that stores the content of all the government’s official social media channels along with interactions with the public. At the same time, it enables these data to be viewed publicly and transparently.
Such a space for monitoring and transparency has never been implemented anywhere else in the world. It meets a need detected by the Catalan government to analyse citizens’ interests and demands, expressed through the government’s digital channels, and adapt public services accordingly. The public interest-based distributed presence over digital channels, as opposed to the classic presence that replicates organisational structures, helps bring government closer to people’s real needs. With this new model, citizens feel they are being listened to and are involved in governance.
Thus, it shows that the digital spaces and platforms appropriated by the public are places where decisions can be made collectively, eliminating physical and social barriers.
b. Please describe if the innovation is original or if it is an adaptation from other contexts (If it is known)? (200 words maximum)
GencatGRAM is an original application by the Catalan government with regard to the diversity of channels from which data is gathered and analysed.
In other parts of the world there are experiences that affect only web channels. Good examples of these are the United Kingdom and United States governments. These institutions provide data on activity on their websites via public portals where data from their online monitoring tool (Google Analytics) can be consulted and viewed.
GencatGRAM adapts this idea to all public service channels provided by the Government of Catalonia, thus offering citizens a better service while fostering transparency and participation. Initially it will contain all the data from the digital channels with phone and on-site channels to be included at a later date.
c. What resources (i.e. financial, human , material or other resources, etc) were used to implement the initiative? (200 words maximum)
The initiative is fully funded by the Catalan government. The central public digital services unit, part of the Presidential Department's Directorate General for Citizen Attention, is the coordinating service for the project. This central unit consists of 12 experts whose tasks include conceiving and designing the software that gathers data and displays it online.
Consultancy and help in development tasks have been provided by an external technology provider (DXC Technology) to the value of €100,000. This provider has carried out all the corrective and developmental maintenance for the system (such as adding new social networks and information on activity from other channels) through its current corporate application maintenance contract.
The initiative should be adaptable to other contexts (e.g. other cities, countries or regions). There may already be evidence that it has inspired similar innovations in other public-sector institutions within a given country, region or at the global level.
a. Has the initiative been transferred to other contexts?
One of the strengths of gencatGRAM is its adaptability and transferability to other contexts. Indeed, a number of public organisations have already expressed an interest. One of the keenest administrations is the Basque government, which has already adopted other projects in the Catalan government’s strategic plan, such as the Social Networks Guide of the Generalitat of Catalonia.
The Catalan model is a benchmark for other governments and has also been supported by private organisations, corporations and companies. The most emblematic of all these media is Twitter. The company has not only worked with the Catalan government in producing guidelines to help public administrations use the social network successfully, but has also recognised the utility and viability of gencatGRAM by facilitating access to the API that gathers their data.
As well as inspiring other organisations, the Catalan government observes regional and international trends and leading public service models. These efforts strengthen the transparency of Catalan institutions and facilitate benchmarking with other governments and regions.
The initiative should be able to be sustained over a significant period of time.
a. Please describe whether and how the initiative is sustainable (covering the social, economic and environmental aspects) (300 words maximum)
GencatGRAM is a highly sustainable initiative in social, economic and environmental terms for all the reasons mentioned so far. This is mainly because it is the general public, or civil organisations that defend their interests, who have the capacity to analyse and assess whether the channel (social media, website, messaging service, mobile app, or others) is providing the results for which it was set up. It should now be very difficult to hide the real impact of the service and whether the public intervention (with the creation of the channel or the service it offers) is truly justified.
One example is the case of the social media. The reports are especially useful in advertising campaigns, press conferences or for emergencies and encourage improvement of communications in the future, as they enable the a posteriori analysis of certain data that goes unnoticed while the event or emergency is ongoing. When it is detected that the activity or the quality of the service of an account is not sufficient, the Government of Catalonia holds a meeting with those that manage it to assess possible improvement actions, and if not achieved, to close the account.
In the end, assessment of the Administration should serve to identify the public policies that work, know their impact and know in what measure this is attributable to the same problem or the intervention of the public Administration. In many cases, for an adequate assessment, results of the public intervention should be compared with the situation in the event that the intervention had not taken place. Additionally, with the information obtained, it is possible to make, for example, forecasts of action or to plan campaigns. This direct, constant feedback favours the total sustainability of gencatGRAM.
b. Please describe whether and how the initiative is sustainable in terms of durability in time (300 words maximum)
GencatGRAM was designed with a 20th-century application approach, using a service-orientated 3-tier architecture expressed through REST APIs. In this architecture, the presentation logic is implemented via an SPA application model; the business logic is implemented in the web tier in a servlet container; and the data persistence level is housed in the MongoDB database.
The system was designed for scalable growth, both within the Catalan government and in other organisations that might be interested in it. The reuse and capacity of scalability is based on the use of open technology frameworks, such as Angularjs (https://angularjs.org), SpringBoot and the MongoDB database. This database permits an integrated partition system, replication and sharding options that provide an easily horizontally scalable system.
Furthermore, gencatGRAM’s modular composition helps avoid lag due to obsolescence caused by applications and systems with highly centralised architectures. Thus, making the corresponding forecasts in the form of app evolutions that meet implementable needs based on feedback from use becomes more feasible.
The initiative should have gone through a formal evaluation, showing some evidence of impact on improving people’s lives.
a. Has the initiative been formally evaluated?
If yes, please describe how the initiative was evaluated? (200 words maximum)
There has been no formal external evaluation of the initiative because the aforementioned application serves precisely to evaluate the impact of digital channels of the Catalan Government. As said, gencatGRAM empowers citizens and civic organizations to be the ones who evaluate the usefulness of digital channels —and in the future telephone and face-to-face services— that the Government opens. Thus, the best assessment is made by the prescribers of this disruptive service.
b. Please describe the outcome of the evaluation of the impact of the initiative (200 words maximum)
c. Please describe the indicators that were used (200 words maximum)
The initiative must demonstrate that it has engaged various actors such as from other institutions, civil society, or the private sector, when possible.
a. The 2030 Development Agenda puts emphasis on collaboration, engagement, coordination, partnerships, and inclusion. Please describe what stakeholders were engaged in designing, implementing and evaluating the initiative. Please also highlight their roles and contributions (300 words maximum)
GencatGRAM has been developed in a participative, cross-organisational way, gathering ideas and initiatives and agreeing on actions with expert public agents and the competent bodies in specific fields of open government. Initially, the Secretariat for Transparency, Open Government and Public Contracts of the Ministry of Transparency and Foreign and Institutional Relations and Affairs, the Presidential Department and the Catalan government ministries in general were involved in the project, due to their presence in all the previously mentioned public service channels.
Externally, a number of institutions interested in policies of transparency, participation and open government were also involved, including Amical Wikimedia, Civio Foundation, various universities (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, University of Girona), local councils (such as Sabadell, Gavà and Mataró), provincial councils, Localret and the Open Administration of Catalonia Consortium, among others. The collaboration began some time ago, when a body called Catalunya Dades was set up to operate as an antenna to ascertain open data needs and how to cooperate in increasing its effect.
a. Please describe the key lessons learned, and any view you have on how to further improve the initiative (200 words maximum)
As gencatGRAM grows, its use will be extended:
• To civil organisations linked to the world of transparency, access to information and accountability.
• To political parties and trade unions.
• To academic researchers analysing the public sector and government.
• To all kinds of experts interested in the demands of society in general and the degree of satisfaction with public powers.
Thus, with the addition of the Catalan government’s public service channels, a critical mass will be obtained that optimises the operation of the application.
At the same time, different actors with the potential to become involved will perceive its usefulness and impact as it becomes consolidated as a living project that provides a global service for transparency, accountability, responsibility, and, in short, co-governance of Catalan society.