Having a driving license is not as simple as it may sound. They are no longer valid for the rest of our lives. When you reach a certain age, become ill or if you are a professional driver, you need to prove regularly that you are qualified to drive. Not a problem, you may be thinking, but what about the fact that four different directorates and numerous underlying divisions are responsible for administering the rights of citizens to drive? Well, it all becomes a lot more complex, doesn’t it?
In a large-scale service design project, Halogen and Rambøll have taken on the challenge of determining together with the responsible directorates better ways to ensure that the right citizens have the right to drive. The commissioning parties are Difi (Agency for Public Management and eGovernment) and DOGA (Design and Architecture Norway), who are working on this project on behalf of Statens vegvesen (Norwegian Public Roads Administration), Helsedirektoratet (Directorate of Healthy, Politidirektoratet (National Police Directorate) and Direktoratet for e-helse (Norwegian Directorate of eHealth). In other words, four directorates with a joint challenge.
One service, four departments
Parliamentary politicians are in essence those who decide which services citizens can access and are entitled to, also with regard to the right to drive. We like to think that it is the Norwegian Public Roads Administration that is responsible for our driving licenses, but that’s actually not the entire story. If you have a driving license for a lorry or are over the age of 70, you need to be examined regularly by your general practitioner who, of course, is a self-employed professional and not an integrated part of government administration, in order to obtain a medical certificate stating that you are qualified to drive. The police patrol the roads to make sure that only those with a driving license drive on them and the new Directorate of eHealth is now involved in the digital administration of our health data.
High price tag for society
If we change our point of view and consider this from the user’s perspective, we see that things are not particularly easy to understand. Citizens have no clear overview of who is responsible for what and communication between the various departments is inadequate. We are personally responsible for ensuring that our driving licenses are valid and that we schedule an appointment with our doctor when a new health exam is required. We then need to take our doctor’s signature, confirming that we’re qualified to drive a car, to one of the Public Roads Administration traffic stations. This alone costs society billions of Norwegian crowns due to, among other things, a loss of productivity for having to leave work to go to the doctor and traffic station.
Another situation is when the police stop a driver for driving erratically. The police then instruct the driver to obtain a new medical certificate. But since the police and national public health service do not communicate directly in this regard, it is not certain that the driver’s doctor will know why the driver has scheduled a new health exam and, consequently, may not check the patient for the reason he or she was stopped by the police in the first place.
Agreement on problem
So where do the designers fit in? The first important step is to get all parties on the same page. By visualising the entire service journey, the directorates can agree on where exactly the problem lies. A challenge is that a problem that one directorate can resolve may not resolve a different problem in a different department. As a result, a joint understanding of the actual problems is crucial, so that the various departments can work together to find solutions that work for everyone.
They can then try to find new ways to provide services. Why do drivers have to go to both a doctor and a traffic station? Should a driving licence be physical proof that we need to have with us at all times or can we confirm a person’s right to drive in other ways? How can we safeguard privacy when it comes to health data?
The questions are numerous and complex, so it is not difficult to understand why things have become so tangled. If a department starts pulling on one of the threads without considering the needs of the other departments, the tangle only becomes worse. But if all parties come together and use methodology to tackle challenges in an integral fashion, we can untangle the mess. The result may very well be billions of crowns saved and a much more pleasant user journey for citizens.