Blog post

When Government Does Not Understand Simple On-Line Needs

By Andrea Di Maio | July 06, 2012 | 1 Comment


This morning I was driving near one of the major processing sites of the garbage collection company in Milan, and a truck came out of the site, without giving any priority to the cars on the main street, including mine. I was driving rather slowly, so I managed to pull the brakes in time to avoid a collision. The driver yelled at me, waving his hands in an ominous way, then drove away.

I decided I would flag his behavior to his company, which is owned by the Milan local government. When I was home, I checked on the web and found a single client service” email address for the company. As I wanted to copy the local police or at least the relevant local government folks, I looked at the portal of the City of Milan. Following the usual “contact” link I was taken to a page offering four different interaction channels:

  • certified email, a tool that has been made mandatory for businesses but not yet for individuals, which is meant to replace official paper communication and requires registration and payment of a yearly fee
  • registered email, which requires priori registration on the portal or use of a regional service card to get access credentials
  • videochat with a call center operator
  • or filling a complaint form

Now, it is great to have all these channels, but all I wanted was to CC somebody from the city government on my email to the garbage collection company. Unfortunately email addresses seem to be a very rare commodity, and communicating with the city must be deemed so important to require significant investment on the citizen’s part.

I wonder how much effort must have gone into conceiving and implementing a multi-channel strategy to then let down people on the simplest. It goes without saying that Milan has jumped on the open data bandwagon too, but I have little hope that this will make it really more open.

By the way, I checked whether either of them had a decent Facebook page: I couldn’t fine any, but maybe I should have invested more time to figure out.

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1 Comment

  • Buongiorno,
    what You observed is the same as here in Germany: the public service entities are hiding themseves behind high walls in the castle to get not in contact with citizens or economy. In German there is the word “Trutzburg”. You may look at them along the Rhine River 🙂

    It would be interesting if Gartner could do a benchmark a) why central Europe is so totally different to US or UK, where communication between citizien and public service is much easier, and b) how much the Continental-Europeans have to pay more for their elaborated distrust.

    If you have someone around you who speaks more German than I Italian than You may eventually want to take a loo to
    where I desribe some of the problematic ways of public service in Germany to close their electronical interfaces to the citizens.

    Grazie mille