Common Ground: The Next Great Leap in Government Innovation

There are many challenges the government sector faces in today’s fast-evolving digital world. Though the nature of these challenges is complex and varied, many of them stem from current methods of data management. The population of the Netherlands alone in 2018 was around 17 million people. That’s a mind-boggling amount of data for municipalities to capture, store, and manage effectively. And we’re talking important, highly sensitive data, the management of which is regulated by strict privacy laws. 

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Data and connectivity challenges 

One of the biggest problems is that most municipalities much of their data locally. Though there is a centralized system for residents’ basic information — the Personal Records Database (BRP) — this only relates to a fraction of all the data that municipalities handle.

When so much data is stored locally, it’s difficult to access and share, and duplication is rife. And it’s important to understand that with duplication comes an increased risk of error, thus making it even harder to comply with privacy laws.

The current system is vulnerable and expensive. Not only does it hinder municipalities in simply running their daily activities, it also stifles innovation. The rapid advancement of technology continues to provide citizens with access to cheaper, faster, and more bespoke services. Municipalities are under greater pressure than ever before to optimize the services they provide. Citizens not only want more from their municipality, they expect it. 

What’s a municipality to do? 

The only way forward is to work together. More specifically, to embrace a new paradigm regarding digital processes and services. To work together, municipalities need to begin a transition to a system that allows for large-scale integration and interoperability. This will empower municipalities to adjust to the ever-changing needs of society with greater flexibility, whilst investing more resources into innovation. 

The answer in the Netherlands is the so-called Common Ground initiative. It was inspired by the software X-Road, which allowed municipalities across Estonia to connect and share data, saving 1400 years of working time every year. A multi-year transition, Common Ground is already being received positively by many municipalities, who understand the true scale of its potential. Common Ground will enable municipalities in the Netherlands to advance from independence to interdependence, positioning them to drastically improve their services and business operations. 

The main objectives of Common Ground 

  • A more flexible, agile information provision; 
  • Reduced costs through the use of an economy-of-scale model (made possible with a municipal “cloud”);  
  • Integration and connection of applications (and therefore data); 
  • Increased data quality, namely through the prevention of duplications;
  • Higher level of innovation in the government sector; 
  • Reuse of software and applications, allowing for joint-investment; 
  • Increased level of information security and adherence to privacy laws; 
  • Maintaining individual municipalities’ right to sovereignty.

It’s easy to see why Common Ground is quickly gaining traction. Municipalities will save time and money, and will be able to give more attention to the more “human” aspects of operations. Citizens will benefit through better services and greater transparency. It’s truly a win-win situation. 

Common Ground and Betty Blocks 

Betty Blocks is a no-code platform that is already creating incredibly positive results within the government sector. It not only enables government applications to be developed much more easily and faster than via traditional coding, it allows for connection to legacy systems, integration with web-services, and reusability. The reusability aspect of the Betty Blocks platform is of particular benefit to the government sector. It means that parts of applications can be reused in subsequent applications. Advanced developers can fully customize ‘blocks’ and then add these to the Block Store for themselves (and others) to use in future projects.  This makes future development even faster!

And, though we’re all about innovation, we understand that innovation must only be pursued in line with the strict guidelines governments must adhere to. Betty Blocks is the first ISO 27001 certified no-code platform, confirming our commitment to security. 

The Betty Blocks no-code platform also supports the objective of Common Ground in terms of flexibility and agility. A no-code platform enables you to experiment with your digital transformation strategy efficiently. You’re able to develop multiple versions of applications quickly in ‘sprints’, constantly getting feedback and checking alignment with business needs.

All signs point towards Common Ground being successfully adopted and implemented by every municipality in the Netherlands. Betty Blocks is here to facilitate that process and help create a future-proof government sector. 

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