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Digital inclusion: the municipalities get inspired!

09 April 2021

On Tuesday, March 30, a new series of Smart Lunchs kicked off with a session on Digital Inclusion. With these inspiration sessions, the Smart City Office wants to encourage elected officials and local government employees to make their municipality "smarter". On the agenda: an academic introduction, presentations on the Digital Appropriation Plan for the Brussels Capital Region and the Digital Inclusion Ecosystem, and finally the experiences of some Brussels municipalities.

The session was opened by Périne Brotcorne. This researcher at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve proposed four key concepts that are important for digitization to be as inclusive as possible. She showed the importance of a thorough understanding of digital inequality, and the role that different actors - developers, but also specialists in digital inclusion and user associations - can play in inclusive design of online tools. Good guidance for users is indispensable, both online and offline. Finally, it remains important to continue to offer non-digital alternatives, without losing the quality of the service.

Tania Maamary, digital inclusion coordinator within the CIRB, presented the Digital Appropriation Plan (DAP). The DAP is a plan for all Brussels residents: because everyone needs to be able to learn on a lifelong basis to keep up with new technologies, but also because everyone needs to play their part in implementing the plan. The multi-year plan for the Brussels-Capital Region consists of 4 main lines. Interested in how you are involved in the plan? Click here.

Eefje Vanderlinden of BNP Paribas Fortis came to explain the Digital Inclusion Ecosystem. This network of companies, social organizations and federal and regional governments and administrations wants to put digital inclusion on the agenda. The partners of the ecosystem worked out 6 solutions to combat digital exclusion as much as possible. Ms. Vanderlinden focused on the creation and strengthening of local access points for all. This is where the municipalities can play a central role.

Finally, we had two Brussels municipalities as guests. Philippe Boïketé, alderman for education, housing, parking, IT and administrative simplification, was the guest of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode. Francesco Iammarino, alderman for culture, economic development and animal welfare, came to speak about the experience of Saint-Gilles. Both spoke about their municipality and its Digital Public Spaces (DPS). A lovely collaboration can be seen both between Saint-Josse and its DPS Sapiens, and between Saint-Gilles and its DPS Atelier du Web.

There was an in-depth look at how these DPSs work and the work that is done, but also the challenges that DPSs face. The DPS Sapiens for exemple wants to make the job of the facilitators more sustainable in the long term through structural subsidies. They wish to grow their offer to not only offer guidance in the use of computer tools but also to help in the creation of content, such as writing a resume. This new service will be made possible thanks to the digital writing assistants and the facilitators. 

Regret not being there? Don’t worry! There are two more sessions on the agenda. Tuesday 27/4 we will be discussing "Digital Transformation in Municipalities. Public authorities at the heart of change". Tuesday 18/5 we will close the series with an afternoon on "Renewable Energy Communities. Generating, using and sharing solar energy with your neighbors". You can register at this link.
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