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1. The use of ICTs for citizen-centric services in the public sector
In the last decade, public administrations are being pressured for public service innovation toward a more personalized, outcome-driven, participative, efficient and collaborative model (IDA, 2011; Peedu, 2011). The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) could help the public sector to achieve this aim, changing the roles played by citizens from “end-users” to “partners” and “co-producers” of information and services (Johnston and Hansen, 2011; Huijboom et al., 2009). This way, governments will need to fundamentally change the way in which public services are provided (Chan et al., 2008), involving citizens in the heart of the value chain (Tuomi, 2002) and expecting them to provide insight and knowledge and thus improve public services.
However, the ability of citizens to participate in public e-service development is much limited (Holgersson and Karlsson, 2014). The rise of smart cities and the development of new and emergent technologies (ETs) are promoting public participatory spaces for enhancing collaboration in problem-solving issues and innovation (Meijer and Rodríguez Bolívar, 2016; Rodríguez Bolívar, 2018; Alcaide Muñoz and Rodríguez Bolívar, 2019), improving service delivery and facilitating citizen engagement (Obedait et al., 2019; Viale Pereira et al., 2017).
Despite the great significance of the future implementation of emergent technologies and the calls for studies to analyze the impact of these technologies in improving citizen-centric services into the smart cities' framework, little research has been conducted to analyze the use of these technologies to reform public service delivery. Papers included in this special issue have been driven to respond to this call making a great advance in the knowledge.
2. Emergent technologies in providing citizen-centric services
The recent technological advances and the emergence of new technologies represent new challenges for governments around the world and a new opportunity to transform the way governments engage with citizens, involve them in the make-decisions process, shape public policies, design strategic projects and redefine services public (Engin and Treleaven, 2019). Focusing on the implementation of ETs in public services, they are expected to bring benefits for improving public services and social life (Olofsson and Mali, 2019). Given that, these could have a substantial impact by influencing the internal efficiency of the public administration as well as improving the quality of the public services (van Noordt and Misuraca, 2020).
Although there is previous research that has focused on the implementation of ETs in public services (Harrison et al., 2019; Valle-Cruz, 2019), the challenges surrounding its implementation, its impact, its consequences and much more still need to be addressed and cleared (Lindgren et al., 2019; van Noordt and Misuraca, 2020). In this sense, politicians, public managers, policymakers and civil servants are not clear about the potential that the implementation of this type of technological advance could have, what influence it could have on public management processes, on the provision of public services, on interaction with citizens and so on (Lindgren et al., 2019).
This uncertainty and challenges that public managers, politicians and policymakers must face suggests not only the need for more research but also efforts to improve their knowledge and ability to use them in creating public value successfully. Hence, the special issue on “Emerging technologies for providing public citizen-centric services” is presented here, an appropriate and timely result trying to clarify some challenges in this area of knowledge.
3. Main findings about ETs impact on public services in this special issue
Among the articles that make up this special issue, we can find papers that deal with disruptive blockchain technology as a solution in the current pandemic environment to verify the country visit trail and disease and treatment history of the passengers who arrive at the immigration counters located at various national borders and entry points (Pandey and Litoriya, 2021). Similarly, a research study indicates that this technology has a great potential for public management using a referring model of blockchain's systematized functionalities through a conceptualized matrix (Rainero and Modarelli, 2021).
On the other hand, there is an article which focused on how the cities are faced with the challenge of achieving system pluggability in the service integration due to numerous actors and systems needed for smart urban transformation. It shows both the structure to manage changes and main urban transformation and the alignment of the business with the underlying information from the perspective of the stakeholders. In addition, it describes how service integration of different pervasive platforms provides digital services for smart urban transformation (Bokolo et al., 2021).
Also, there are papers seeking to understand citizens' perception of smartphone-based city management apps and to identify facilitators and barriers that influence app adoption and use. The findings highlight that city management apps are primarily perceived and used by citizens as handy and efficient tools for the provision of information and public services (Wang et al., 2021).
Closely related to the above, there are three papers analyzing m-government applications for public services. First, we find a paper which evaluates how the social benefits of citizens using m-government affect citizens' satisfaction with the government. Its results indicate that the process gratification and content gratification are positively associated with citizen satisfaction with the government (Annis et al., 2021). Second, there is a study which investigates the use of m-government apps for public services in Brazil. In this sense, results show that mobile apps include useful information of public services and that the development of apps and how they are used improve the region economic development (De Oliveira Malaquias and da Silv a Junio, 2021). Finally, a study investigates how women’s individual difference influences urban mobility service technology-use behavior, presenting five behavioral profiles of women, which affect the development of emerging economies and their quality of life (Hino and Cunha, 2021).
Alcaide Muñoz, L. and Rodríguez Bolívar, M.P.R. (2019), “A walk for e-participation in the smart city's Era. New organizational challenges and new models of governance”, E-participation in Smart Cities: Technologies and Models of Governance for Citizen Engagement, Springer, Cham, pp. 205-213.
Annis, C., Hou, J. and Tang, T. (2021), “Perceptions, motivators and barriers of using city management applications among citizens: a focus group approach”, Information Technology and People, Vol. 34 No. 4, pp. 1338-1356.
Bokolo, A., Petersen, S.A., Helfert, M., Ahlers, D. and Krogstie, J. (2021), “Modeling pervasive platforms and digital services for smart urban transformation using an enterprise architecture framework”, Information Technology and People, Vol. 34 No. 4, pp. 1285-1312.
Chan, C.M.L., Lau, Y.M. and Pan, S.L. (2008), “E-government implementation: a macro analysis of Singapore's e-government initiatives”, Government Information Quarterly, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 239-255.
De Oliveira Malaquias, F.F. and da Silva Junior, R.J. (2021), “The use of m-government applications: empirical evidence from the smartest cities of Brazil”, Information Technology and People, Vol. 34 No. 4, pp. 1357-1369.
Engin, Z. and Treleaven, P. (2019), “Algorithmic government: automating public services and supporting civil servants in using data science technologies”, The Computer Journal, Vol. 62 No. 3, pp. 448-460.
Harrison, T.F., Luna-Reyes, L., Pardo, T., De Paula, N., Najafabadi, M. and Palmer, J. (2019), “The data firehose and AI in government: Why data management is a key to value and ethics”, in Proceedings of the 20th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research, pp. 171-176.
Hino, M.C. and Cunha, A.M. (2021), “Female lens in urban mobility: technology-use behavior and individual differences”, Information Technology and People, Vol. 34 No. 4, pp. 1370-1397.
Holgersson, J. and Karlsson, F. (2014), “Public e-service development: understanding citizens' conditions for participation”, Government Information Quarterly, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 396-410.
Huijboom, N., Van den Broek, T., Frissen, V., Kool, L., Kotterink, B., Nielsen, M. and Millard, J. (2009), Public Services 20: The Impact of Social Computing on Public Services. Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, Joint Research Centre, European Commission, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.
International Development Association (IDA) (2011), “Information and communication technology agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA)”, Vol. 3, Colombo.
Johnston, E. and Hansen, D. (2011), “Design lessons for smart governance infrastructures”, in Ink, D., Balutis, A. and Buss, T. (Eds), American Governance 3.0: Rebooting the Public Square?, National Academy of Public Administration, Washington, DC.
Lindgren, I., Madsen, C.Ø., Hofmann, S. and Melin, U. (2019), “Close encounters of the digital kind: a research agenda for the digitalization of public services”, Government Information Quarterly, Vol. 36 No. 3, pp. 427-436.
Meijer, A. and Rodríguez Bolívar, M.P. (2016), “Governing the smart city: a review of the literature on smart urban governance”, International Review of Administrative Sciences, Vol. 82 No. 2, pp. 392-408.
Obedait, A.A., Youssef, M. and Ljepava, N. (2019), “Citizen-centric approach in delivery of smart government services”, Smart Technologies and Innovation for a Sustainable Future, Springer, Cham, pp. 73-80.
Olofsson, J.K. and Mali, F. (2019), “Critical engagement vs. Technophobia: the risks of emerging technologies”, Teorija in Praksa, Vol. 56 No. 3, pp. 769-778.
Pandey, P. and Litoriya, R. (2021), “Technology intervention for preventing COVID-19 outbreak”, Information Technology and People, Vol. 34 No. 4, pp. 1233-1251.
Peedu, G. (2011), Enhancing Public Service User Experience in Information Society, Master Thesis Estonia, Tallinn University.
Rainero, C. and Modarelli, G. (2021), “Blockchain informative infrastructure: a conceptual reflection on public administratives procedures and a citizen-centred view”, Information Technology and People, Vol. 34 No. 4, pp. 1252-1284.
Rodríguez Bolívar, M.P. (2018), “Governance models and outcomes to foster public value creation in smart cities”, Scienze Regionali, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 57-80.
Tuomi, I. (2002), Theory of Innovation: Change and Meaning in the Age of Internet, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Valle-Cruz, D. (2019), “Public value of e-government services through emerging technologies”, International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 32 No. 5, pp. 530-545.
van Noordt, C. and Misuraca, G. (2020), “Evaluating the impact of artificial intelligence technologies in public services: towards an assessment framework”, Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance, pp. 8-16.
Viale Pereira, G., Cunha, M.A., Lampoltshammer, T.J., Parycek, P. and Testa, M.G. (2017), “Increasing collaboration and participation in smart city governance: a cross-case analysis of smart city initiatives”, Information Technology for Development, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 526-553.
Wang, C., Thompson, S.H., Dwivedi, Y. and Janssen, M. (2021), “Mobile services use and citizen satisfaction in government: integrating social benefits and gratifications theory”, Information Technology and People, Vol. 34 No. 4, pp. 1333-1337.
About the authors
Dr. Laura Alcaide Muñoz is Associate Professor in Accounting and Finance Department at University of Granada (Spain). She is interested in the analysis of the implementation of Open Government (OG) projects, the determination of management models that favor citizen participation (Smart Governance), as well as investigate the Smart City phenomenon and its current strategic planning practices on smart projects. She has published articles in JCR journals (American Review of Public Administration, Government Information Quarterly, International Journal of Information Management, among others), co-edited books in international editorials such as Springer or Palgrave McMillan, and has been Guest Editor in Special Issue published in Information Technology and People. Current, she is co-leading a Spanish Ministry Research Project about Transparency, Participation and Public Innovation in Smart Local Governments. Also, she is member of Editorial Advisory Board of Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy (SRJ Q2).
Prof. Manuel Pedro Rodríguez Bolívar is Full Professor in Accounting at the University of Granada (Spain). His research interests are focused on smart cities, smart governance, emerging technologies and public sector financial accounting. He is included into the list of 100,000 top-scientists in the world classified into 22 scientific fields and 176 sub-fields (DOI: 10.17632/btchxktzyw.2#file-dd0904a8-0eba-4cf3-be4a-c6092261fed5). He has authored more than 60 articles in leading JCR journals, and more than 50 book chapters (Kluwer Academic Publishers, Springer, Routledge, Palgrave, Taylor and Francis and IGI Global). He has served as guest editor of several special issues in JCR journals and international books. In addition, he is Editor in Chief of international journals and PAIT Book Series (Springer), member of Editorial Boards of leading international journals (GIQ -Q1 JCR-, Informatics, etc.) and reviewer of more than 60 JCR listed journals, European, and national programs of research projects in different countries, and collaborator of United Nations to assess local e-government development in cities.