Smart City

#NewPerspective on delivering services to residents

“Residents play a crucial role in our Smart City policy.”

Carl Nijssens, digitalization councillor, Sint-Truiden

In Sint-Truiden, digitalization is the cornerstone of this policy.
The city is known as the centre of the flower and fruit region. But it will soon reap the benefits of a smart policy which will result in state-of-the-art services for residents and businesses.
The challenges:

  • the city had to start from scratch
  • it needed to invest heavily in basic infrastructure with new servers and equipment
  • it had to convince residents that the digital policy is a bonus

Therefore, some ‘quick wins’ were created in the short term through which both residents and businesses could enjoy concrete advantages.

Free WiFi and mobile apps

The city of Sint-Truiden offers free WiFi in the Grote Markt (Main Square). But Shop & The City is also popular, a digital loyalty card for anyone who shops in the city. Carl Nijssens, “You can load points in the shops via your QR code. Each month, there’s a car to be won.” There will also be a handy booking and ticketing system for sporting and cultural events.

“The jewel in the crown is the My Digipass citizen reporting system,” says Carl Nijssens. “Residents can easily carry out notifications and get access to online municipality apps via a mobile device. They just have to upload their ID details via their smartphone once. Sint-Truiden will soon be the first Belgian city where residents can identify themselves while mobile.”

The e-counter makes life easier for citizens

Another mobile identification app is for requesting documentation via the e-counter. Mayor Veerle Heeren, “Suppose someone has forgotten to apply for a birth certificate, they’ll soon be able to do it on their mobile from a terrace in the Grote Markt. The document is immediately sent as a pdf.” There are endless uses for the e-counter.

“A test sample of residents later became ambassadors for communicating the concept to the general public,” says Carl Nijssens. And he lists the benefits for all parties. “Residents can apply for documents 24/7 and no longer have to wait for a long time at the counter. Their satisfaction increases. And our city services can work more efficiently.”

Essential partnerships

The key success factor in this story is help from the right partners. ICT coordinator Jef Rayen, “Our infrastructure is there. Now we need to evolve into a Smart City. Proximus is helping us in various areas, such as monitoring energy consumption, business TV, text parking, secure shopping, etc.”

For Mayor Heeren, 2016 must be the year of digitisation for residents. “We have already achieved a great deal, but there’s still more in the pipeline. This includes other policy areas, such as the reconstruction of the Grote Markt. Sint-Truiden is a city in transition. We want to build the city of the future for the children of today.”

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