The activities of ReSPA are
funded by the European Union


17 04.20.

COVID-19 Western Balkans Digital Collaborative

First ReSPA Western Balkan online collaboration platform to support region in overcoming Covid-19 pandemic crisis

ReSPA has organized a Zoom meeting on 16 April 2020, in regards to helping WB countries cope better amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of the meeting was to establish an online collaboration platform which will support WB digital service teams, and even multidisciplinary teams to detect and overcome key challenges. 
During the meeting, more than 40 senior civil servant professionals from the WB countries highlighted the most important issues in their countries that need to be addressed.
Some of the key issues were  framed around response of the Governments to extraordinary situation caused by COVID-19: development of online platform for the online studding, digitalization of the issuing isolation certificate to citizens at crossing border during the crisis, digitalization of the process of distribution bilateral transport permits to freight carriers, organizing the development of a new  dedicated website for communicate the public about the Covid-19 crisis, modalities of teleworking i.e. working from home, relying on open data while making strategic and operational decision in public administration, optimization of existing one stop shop services in order to include all current clients’ needs, etc. 

Affinity mapping of the key challenges among WB countries

Discussing similarities vs. differences within WB countries related to growing needs and still present significant number of completely unknown areas caused by the current situation, attendees jointly concluded that they are facing almost the same challenges. They decided to put in place common priorities that need to be overcome. 
In upcoming days, ReSPA will highlight the most important common challenges for all of the WB countries and will propose mechanisms of support provision with its partners (such as CHHS) and experts engaged.

EU and USA experiences in crisis management as a guideline for WB countries

Boris Koprivnikar, Senior eGovernment expert gave a brief overview of identified challenges by giving an insight into Slovenian experience followed by evidence-based suggestions. 
He underlined the importance of supporting distant work and learning with strengthening existing systems and support decision making and disease monitoring with data gathering but with special attention to personal data: “Now we have an opportunity to demonstrate how important and useful are digital systems and boost up their use, so we have to strengthen and upgrade existing systems also for future use. Building trust in eServices and carefully managing personal data according to GDPR directive is an investment in digital development”. 

Tamara Srzentić, Deputy Director, Office of innovation, California Health and Human Service agency (CHHS) shared her personal experience as a part of the team who developed Coronavirus response website in California / USA. 
She provided an overview of what has been done in California/USA highlighting response efforts, initiatives, and solutions in the following areas: covid19 website and digital services and platforms, data dashboards, modeling and insights, as well as indicators and initiatives taking place to modify the stay-at-home order. 
She highlighted her teams' lessons learned, best practices and partnerships with civic tech and private industry partners that could also be leveraged in Western Balkans: “We are bringing together WB digital service teams to share, learn from and support one another during this challenging times. We hope that this space will help create a connective tissue between the WB countries, USA, and European partners and our efforts, allowing us to share challenges we are overcoming, as well as identify possible shared goals or initiatives that could be done in collaboration with one another in response to COVID19. We are building a safe space where we hope everyone can be bold, and honest about their struggles, as well as how they want to support one another in meeting this challenging moment.
There are many track and trace technologies that are open source - it looks like this is a huge need cluster that we could be looking into and addressing as a collaborative” Tamara highlighted.  

ReSPA's support to public services digitalization as a solution to move forward WB countries during the Covid-19 pandemic and in a post-virus world

The COVID-19 global pandemic largely impacts the way we live and work. Now more than ever it is obvious that digital transformation is essential in order to recover and move forward. Only those economies that adjusted their digital technology and communication can cope through the crisis, recover fast after it’s done, and make visible progress in the years that come.
“Being aware of the importance of the digitalization of public services, ReSPA will provide a different form for intervention to support WB countries in order to overcome detected challenges, by organizing webinars, mentoring and coaching sessions, online working group meetings, in-country support and peer-to-peer learning. This very first kick off meeting gave a lot of food for thoughts which will enable ReSPA Secretariat to make decision for the follow up activities in a holistic and inclusive manner.” said Goran Paštrović, ReSPA Programme Manager, at the end of the meeting.