«We have detected that, indeed, there is a gap between citizenship and electronic administration that is sometimes quite deep and, at a time when everything tends more towards digital, what we want is to train and guide people, give them the necessary support for them to acquire skills that they are going to need from now on in their day-to-day life”, explains Jaume Margalló to the Diari. He is responsible for the Espais d’Aprenentatge Digital, physical dissemination points distributed in various municipal facilities and where the population can “find tools and support” to interact online with the City Council, but also with the Generalitat or other institutions.
A few days ago, the council has expanded these points with the opening of others in the Xavier Amorós Central Library, the Pere Anguera Library and the old hospital. Now there are a total of 13 and they are distributed, in addition to these three locations, among all the Civic Centers, the Business Technical Office, the Citizen Service Office, the Municipal School Office and the Servei d’Service i Information to the Taxpayer.
In the last five months of activity, the Espais d’Aprenentatge Digital attended 208 people by appointment, more than one a day. The ones that registered the most influx were those located in Civic Centers. 56% of the procedures that were carried out in this time frame were with the Catalan administration –among these, school pre-registration and the request for the thermal social bonus were the most recurrent–, while 27% were related to the City Council and 17%, with some aspect of the state administration.
And it is that, as the Councilor for Participation, Montserrat Flores, recalls, “there are many citizens who sit in front of a computer and perhaps they do not have the necessary knowledge to carry out the procedures on their own but, on the other hand, with a little help and guidance, yes they can. Therefore, “in addition to putting the computers, which are prepared for this dimension, we have the option of requesting an appointment to receive this support in the procedures” and “it is about the user ending up being more autonomous, not needing to go there whenever you’re going to do something.”
Personalized advice is by appointment, which can be requested at the facilities that house an Espai d’Aprenentatge Digital, through the website www.reus.cat/feselclic or, bearing in mind that whoever asks for it may not be well in the digital field, by calling 977010010. The Espais d’Aprenentatge Digital have a «computer, screen, keyboard, mouse, speakers, a microphone because they are also designed for remote accompaniment and a webcam, beyond the connection to Internet”. In recent times, according to Flores, “we have realized that this service is increasingly being requested” and it has been identified that “we are receiving more requests for previous appointments to use computers.” These points have been in operation for almost a year and for a few months they have hired professionals in employment plans.
Until the Espais were activated, “we realized that there were people who made an appointment at the OAC to carry out procedures, although they could have done them from home, because they had enough user knowledge but, on the other hand, the administrative part was a bit foreign to them. or maybe they felt a bit of initial reluctance».
With the virus, “there have been services, not only from the City Council but from many administrations, that have become digital. There are some for whom there is only a digital appointment or face-to-face appointments are already residual because there are fewer people and fewer hours are given,” adds Flores, who maintains that “since digitization is an advance in itself, more will go here.” And “although in the City Council you can always end up asking for face-to-face time, in other administrations not because they are not physically here.” Despite everything, the Espais d’Aprenentatge Digital “were already planned before the pandemic.”
Not everyone is old
Regarding the profile of users who request electronic monitoring, Flores stresses that “sometimes we think they are older people and this is not always the case, they are very diverse people.” The councilor gives the example of school pre-registration, which “in principle, is done by fathers and mothers, who would be middle-aged” and recalls that some of the frequent procedures “have to do with the SEPE, which became infamous in the pandemic by the ERTO, so they are people of working age” and “they also asked for many processes related to Social Security” or “help to get the idCAT Mòbil”, so “the profile is very broad”.
On the reasons why these people go to the Espais d’Aprenentatge Digital instead of dealing with bureaucracy from home, Flores says that “either they don’t have a computer or, despite having skills, they are not familiar with digital administration.”
In this sense, Margalló notes that “the more distant the administration is, the more disconnected the citizens are from it” and says that “our job is to guide people and make them capable” because “there is a very large gap and many people who He has practically no skills. “There is a group of the population that has been distanced and it seems that the gap will always be there, because there are people who do not know they have email or, beyond that, some who do not know how to read or write and for them it is a world”, specifies the person in charge of the Espais d’Aprenentatge Digital. Each appointment is allocated about 45 minutes of attention.
Fina Martí, a digital agent who attends to users of this service, knows this well and comments that “people who do know come, who have knowledge, but maybe they don’t have a computer or a connection and they come here” and “then it’s middle-aged people, what are they doing and I lend them a hand». Finally, “there are the older people, which is where you see the gap, because they get overwhelmed, or foreign people who, apart from the digital barrier, sometimes don’t know the language either.”