Civic Agency in Public E-service innovation

The above quote from Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winning film ‘I, Daniel Blake’ from 2016, eloquently pinpoint show large groups in today’s society experience digitalization of the public sector. The film portrays Daniel Blake’s struggle against bureaucracy, and how he finds himself on the wrong side of the digital divide, hampered by his lack of digital skills, since public e-services is the only available communication channel to the authorities.

A main problem in digital transformation of the public sector that stands clear from public sector research: there. is a lack of user involvement in development of public e-services.

This problem is related to a digital divide regarding use of current e-services, where marginalised user groups lack digital skills, and it also blocks the potential in developing future services based on the emerging availability of open public data.

The CAPE – Civic Agency in Public E-service innovation – project addresses these issues, regarding both improvement of current e-services, and releasing the potential in user-driven development of future services. In response to the above problem, the CAPE project will develop and implement Civic Innovation Centres (CICs), a novel innovation facility, where citizens engage in two main activities: (1) co-design of improvements to existing public e-services, and (2) co-design of new service innovations, based on open public data.

The CICs will be hosted in public libraries, as an integrated part of their existing facilities for citizen engagement, in order to tap into the immense resource of active library visitors. By analysing and documenting innovation activities, the CIC:s will also develop research knowledge related to best practice, innovation processes and solutions, as well as knowledge on drivers and enablers for successful digital transformation and its long-term impacts on society, thus allowing for the building of a shared repository as an open resource for public sector service innovation.

The CIC concept is scalable through the existing network of public libraries, providing a powerful infrastructure for sharing the repository. Consequently, it will have international impact as a base for developing an understanding of the processes and outcomes of adoption and adaption of digital technologies, and drivers and enablers for successful digital transformation of the public sector.

Project members

  • IT University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • Aalborg University Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • Ballerup Library (Denmark)
  • Malmö University (Sweden)
  • Malmö City Library (Sweden)
  • Aalto University (Finland)
  • Helsinki City Library (Finland)


Jakob Chortsen

Jakob Chortsen

Senior Communications Adviser
Bodil Aurstad. Photo: NordForsk

Bodil Aurstad

Special Adviser