Munich: Digital citizen service is being expanded – Munich

Ms Pepper, to whom one would probably have to say “the robots”, looks, nods and spreads her arms on the top floor of the district administration department (KVR). This is how the white artificial figure, a good one meter tall, greets the landlady Hanna Sammüller-Gradl, the IT officer Laura Dornheim (both Green) and Mayor Dieter Reiter (SPD). Perhaps their sweeping gestures with their arms are so friendly because the three announce that they want to advance Pepper’s digital world in the city much faster. There should be more than 15 new online offers from the KVR in 2023, especially for issues relating to residence permits, driver’s licenses and weapons.

There are also two pilot projects: On the one hand, this year it should be possible to register your place of residence from your computer at home, and on the other hand, the city wants to use a chatbot for the first time. Artificial intelligence is used here to be able to answer questions from the people of Munich purely digitally.

The city wants to try this new form of communication for basic questions about the state election, for example after the specific voting date. Hundreds of calls, if not more, would come before every election, said Mayor Reiter. Employees should be relieved of these questions in the future.

Even if this form of interaction is to be expanded after the first attempt with a chatbot, another message was more important to the two speakers: Two people have found each other who want to advance Munich digitally much faster than has been the case so far. “We’ll turn on the turbo,” promised the city’s head of IT, Dornheim. In her house, a team of 70 people works exclusively on improving the citizen service in the district administration department. Your authority already has 102 online offers, said Sammüller-Gradl. The new service for the trade shows how great the interest in others is. There have already been more than 1,000 registrations, deregistrations and re-registrations since this online option was launched in December 2022. “These are amazing numbers.”

Many are not even aware of the online offers

But not every digital offer from the KVR is so well received, which is also why the appearance in the district administration department was so large. Sammüller-Gradl had visitors to her house ask why they didn’t do their job on the computer. “Most of them didn’t even know that this service existed online.” It is now necessary to make the services known. In addition, there was the wish that the digital offer had to be prepared in a more understandable way. Mayor Reiter gave the two speakers carte blanche to be allowed to make a mistake on the way to better digitization. “Trials are also starting digitally, not just with pop-up cycle paths. Innovative ideas,” he wished.

Reiter made it clear that the citizen service will and must continue to function digitally and personally in the authority in the future. But the advantages of the digital offer could be used even better in the future. For this, the quality in the online area must also increase. “Digital 1.0” is often still being worked on in the city, he said. That means, for example: Citizens can download a form at home, but then have to take it to the authority in person. Or the citizens sent their document online, but the employees in the office would then have to print it out in order to be able to process it further, said IT officer Dornheim. “That’s not what we think of as working digitally.” The common vision is the end-to-end digitization from one end to the other.

Federal and state regulations are slowing down further expansion

Sammüller-Gradl and Dornheim also have a few more visions, for example much more digital service in passports. Or leaving the church online. But in many areas, the legal requirements of the federal and state governments prevented the expansion of a better service. Mayor Reiter also called it “somewhat annoying”. The federal and state governments wanted to enable more and harmonize their digital strategies, “but until that trickles through, it’s dragging on”. Some trips to the district administration department will therefore be necessary for a longer period of time, but there you will still not come across many small robot peppers, but real employees. Pepper has only existed once so far, she was only in the agency for modeling purposes. In everyday life, she currently prefers to explain to children in the education department how a media box works.

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