Government use of technology should be people-oriented, expert argues

Maurício Pimentel is a director at Instituto Cidades Inteligentes

Published in 22/06/2022 - 19:42 By Daniel Mello - Curitiba

The use of technology by governments should be people-oriented, says Instituto Cidades Inteligentes Systems and Innovation Director Maurício Pimentel. Founded in 1998, the organization develops technology solutions for public agencies and city governments across Brazil—including Curitiba and Londrina, in Paraná state; and Osasco, in São Paulo.

“[We aim to] replace the idea of delivering technology to the government as a tool that only serves bureaucracy, the red tape, the execution of public service, with technology directed at the citizens,” Pimentel said in an interview to Agência Brasil, at the institute’s booth in the fourth edition of innovation and management event Viasoft Connect.

In Brazil, technological solutions around automation and process digitization are still more focused on facilitating public management than people’s lives, Pimentel argued. “When you walk around in a Brazilian city, you see that technology almost always serves bureaucratic purposes fairly well, but not the citizens.”

This needs to be changed, he pointed out. “A system controlling budget execution—an internal government matter—needs to bring benefits to the citizens,” he underscored. Common services like tax payment and medical forms must be made easier with technological solutions, he went on to say.

Despite emphasizing the need for innovations in Brazil’s reality today, he mentioned the example of Estonia, an Eastern Europe country that managed to facilitate people’s lives in a wide range of bureaucratic procedures. “They were able to automate a number of processes, from licensing to opening up companies.”

Inequalities

In addition, the institute director noted that social inequalities should be addressed with the use of digital devices. “The municipality is not a startup; it cannot set a target audience. The municipality has to serve everyone all the time.”

Pimentel underlined the need to foster the education of people little familiar with recent technological tools, like the elderly. “The new illiterate—the digital illiterate—can read and write, have a job, a successful career, but haven’t caught up with technology,” he remarked.

Once this challenge is overcome, he argued, solutions may come in a more democratic way to the poor areas in big cities. “Mobility is a solution path—technology delivered to your cell phone. Anywhere citizens may live, they have cell phones, and therefore access,” he said.

*The reporter traveled at the invitation of Viasoft Connect.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Nádia Franco

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