IGF 2023 Day 0 Event #193 How to build trust in user-centric digital public services

Sunday, 8th October, 2023 (05:45 UTC) - Sunday, 8th October, 2023 (06:45 UTC)
WS 9 – Room C-2
Data Governance & Trust

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
1. Christopher Newman, Advisor at GIZ, Government, Western European and Others 2. Luiza Ferreira, Advisor at GIZ for the Secretariat of the German-Brazilian Digital Dialogue, Government, Latin American and Caribbean 3. Torge Wolters, Project leader at GIZ for the Global Project Digital Dialogues, Government, Western European and Others 4. Dr Rudolf Gridl, Director-General at the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV), Government, Western European and Others


1. Dr Rudolf Gridl, Director-General at the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV), Government, Western European and Others 2. Ms Valeriya Ionan, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, Government, Eastern European 3. Ms Luanna Roncaratti, Deputy Secretary of Digital Government at the Brazilian Ministry for Management and Innovation in Public Services, Government, Latin American and Caribbean 4: Gautham Ravichander, Head of Strategy, eGovernments Foundation, Asia-Pacific Group (virtual)

Onsite Moderator

Christopher Newman, GIZ

Online Moderator

Sasha Nies, GIZ


Torge Wolters


10. Reduced Inequalities

Targets: The proposal is closely related to SGDs 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure), 10 (Reduced inequalities), 16 (Peace, justice and strong institutions) and 17 (Partnerships for the goals). The use of technology can greatly reduce inequalities by improving public services access for citizens through various channels. In developing countries, such as Brazil, digitalisation enables governments at all levels to provide public services in regions where physical access to administration is limited or nonexistent. In the case of Ukraine, digitalization is an essential tool for the government to continue providing its services, which fosters more resilient and robust public institutions. When public services are digitalised in a user-centric manner, it allows for greater societal participation in decision-making. This ultimately results in more inclusive and transparent policies that strengthen public institutions and enhance citizens' trust in the government. Finally, the session aims to encourage the development of strategic partnerships by allowing policymakers from different countries to exchange information and experiences on the development of accountable, effective, and trustworthy digital public services. These debates can be further advanced within the multistakeholder platform provided by the International Digital Dialogues.


The session will be organised as a roundtable discussion with four speakers from different regions. Each speaker will briefly present their experience and lessons learned, followed by a moderated discussion on the policy questions above. The organizers will engage the audience interactively through a live poll during the opening of the session. The results of this poll will be picked up by the moderator and discussed in the roundtable setting. A Q&A at the end of the session will provide further opportunities for the audience to engage with the speakers. The session will be followed by a networking reception for participants, speakers and organisers, possibly held in a different location. The reception will provide a platform for further engagement, dialogue and cooperation, throughout the IGF conference week and beyond.


Digital public services have the potential to improve service delivery and outcomes, enhance citizen experience and engagement, and foster innovation and collaboration between stakeholders from different sectors. In today’s digital era, citizens expect public services to be user-centric, meaning that people’s needs and convenience are at the centre of attention in design and delivery of the services. To effectively and efficiently address citizens’ needs, these services should be accessible across channels, devices and platforms and continuously improve based on users’ feedback. Governments have the opportunity to create more personalised experiences and enhance service delivery by collecting, combining and leveraging different types of data. At the same time, trust is a critical aspect that underpins the success of user-centric digital public services. Citizens must feel confident that their personal data is handled responsibly and that digital public services are reliable and secure. To ensure this, governments must put in place robust data governance frameworks based on ethical principles that protect privacy and safeguard the responsible use of citizens' personal data. By drawing on the experiences and perspectives of stakeholders from different countries and sectors, this Day 0 session will explore the role of data governance for trustworthy and user-centric digital public services. The debate aims to effectively address the following policy questions: - What makes digital public services trustworthy for users? What are the challenges and concerns regarding the trustworthiness of services and what is the role of data governance? - What are the principles for trustworthy user-centric digital public services? What mechanisms can ensure these principles are applied? The diverse perspectives will enable the participants of the session to identify good practices and can help to develop effective policies for user-centric digital public services. The participants will gain a better understanding of user-centric digital public services and what role data governance can play to enhance trust in these services. Additionally, the audience will learn from the experiences and insights of experts and practitioners from different countries who have been involved in developing trustworthy digital public services. By the end of the session, participants will be able to identify key challenges and opportunities of different approaches for implementing trustworthy and user-centric digital public services. Finally, the expected outcomes of this session are: - The shared lessons on building trust in user-centric digital public services can be used by participants for shaping digital public services in their countries. - The results will be taken up within the International Digital Dialogues for further discussion. The Digital Dialogues are a multi-stakeholder initiative for direct exchange and collaboration between policymakers, businesses, academia and civil society. - The learnings from the session may feed into further discussions on trustworthy digital public services in international cooperation fora (such as G7, G20, Digital Nations, and future IGF sessions).

The on-site moderator will engage both the on-site and online speakers by asking questions and inviting all attendees to contribute to the discussion. The designated online moderator will monitor and moderate the chat and will be in direct contact with the on-site moderator to guarantee that the discussion and Q&A involves both on-site and virtual attendees in a balanced manner. An online polling tool such as Wisembly or Mentimeter will be used to gather input for the session, allowing participants to contribute their perspectives in real-time. During the discussion and Q&A, questions from the online audience posted in the chat will be seamlessly incorporated into the exchange.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Trust is essential for the uptake of digital public services. Transparency, user-centricity, data security and citizen engagement throughout the development and deployment of digital public services play key roles in building trust in digital public services. 2. There is a trade-off between user friendliness and data privacy, also for AI implementation. AI has the potential to improve services, i.e. through automated translation

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Digital public services enable citizens to communicate with their governments directly and efficiently. Governments need to recognize this opportunity but also invest in capacity building, upskilling and citizen engagement. 2. Some of the main challenges that need to be addressed are the siloed or fragmented model of service delivery. Instead, there should be a whole-of-government approach to ensure reliability and user centricity.

Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

IGF 2023 Day 0 Session: How to build trust in user-centric digital public services

IGF Sub-theme: Data Governance & Trust

Date and time: Sunday, 8 October 2023 | 14:45 to 15:45 JST

Workshop Room 9, Kyoto International Conference Centre

Session Report

The roundtable discussion titled “How to build trust in user-centric digital public services” focused on the role that trust plays in the delivery of digital public services (DPS). Government trustworthiness and robust data governance as prerequisites for building trust among citizens. The speakers in this session represented a diverse range of countries that have made remarkable progress in digital government in recent years and shared their lessons learned.

First, panellists stated what they believe to be the biggest challenge to building trust in digital government.

Gautham Ravichander, Head of Strategy at eGovernment Foundation in India stressed the need for reliable digital public services. DPS and transparency should be a priority for politicians worldwide. A seamless "Phygital" approach, integrating online and on-the-ground services, will ensure a consistent experience for all. According to Dr. Rudolf Gridl, Director-General for Central Services of the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV), services must strike a balance between being user-friendly, reliable and customizable while also ensuring data privacy. He believes that user-friendliness is crucial for users to adopt and use the services effectively. Valeriya Ionan, Deputy Minister for Eurointegration at the Ukrainian Ministry for Digital Transformation, defined trust as confidence in the appropriateness of the service. She reinforced that institutional trust is crucial and therefore security is an essential aspect of this discussion. For Luanna Roncaratti, Deputy Secretary of Digital Government, Ministry for Management and Innovation in Public Services in Brazil, one of the biggest challenges in creating trust is a siloed and fragmented model of providing public services, a notion that originates from a traditional public model of governance organisation rather than what citizens want.

The session was moderated on site by Christopher Newman and online by Sascha Nies from Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Following the initial statements, Gautham Ravichander, whose organisation supports governments in building platforms for better service delivery, shared what he and his organisation have learned from working on digitalization with various levels of government.. Mr Ravichander stated that it is not only the software that has to work, but there needs to be a focus on capacity building. It is crucial to prioritize making and fulfilling promises. Public services must be dependable, and timelines need to be communicated clearly to citizens. He further emphasized that education and training are essential. In terms of security and privacy, data collection needs to be minimised. Files should be queried by API without the intervention of a human administrator. 

Dr. Gridl stated that Germany values data protection, with citizens highly concerned about it. However, it can be observed that citizens tend to be willing to share data with private companies but not with the government. Building trust through secure data handling and specific, transparent purposes is essential. Recent debates in Germany over a digital public transport ticket also highlight the importance of digital inclusion and data protection. While it is vital, but it must be balanced with user-friendliness to gain citizens' trust.

Following this, Valeriya Ionan was asked about Ukraine’s “state in a smartphone” app, Diia, which allows citizens to carry digital documents like their driver’s license or their passport on their phones. She stated that Ukraine is a frontrunner in the development and use of digital passports and envisions new, convenient services. Her department introduced Diia as an integrated application with multiple digital features before the war and quickly added services post-war, such as integrating TV and radio, tracking internally displaced people, and offering financial aid for damage due to Russian missiles. This innovation required technical expertise and especially trust-building. Ukraine boasts the world's fastest business registration and other quick services, emphasising the need for basic digital skills through education. Regular communication, citizen involvement through beta testing, and user-friendliness are pivotal for trust, not just the product itself.

Next, Luana Roncaratti discussed Brazil's focus on citizen-centricity, which is a key principle of its Digital Government Strategy. The country strives for digital inclusion and a user-centric approach, using surveys and a holistic approach to identify pain points in usage. They use simple language and clear design, offer a user feedback API, and have VILIBRA, a sign language translation service. The focus remains on providing proactive services to ensure inclusion for all.

Finally, the panel was asked about the possibilities and risks of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the provisions of DPS. Luana Roncaratti argued there need to be four areas of action to generate trust in DPS, namely transparency, the possibility to make requests for review when citizens feel they are being discriminated against by AI, investments in data protection and the assessment of risks. Valeriya Ionan stated the need to publish recommendations on balancing regulation and innovation. Dr. Gridl argued that trust is achieved by implementing AI step by step. Gautham Ravichander highlighted the opportunities AI has to change DPS for the better, i.e. in translation in a country like India with many languages, or for medical services.

Then the audience online and in the room were invited to ask questions. This round highlighted further aspects that should be considered when discussing trust in DPS, such as the exclusivity of DPS for i.e. immigrants, Ukraine’s data-in-transit approach as opposed to storing citizen data permanently, cybersecurity and the role of foreign cloud computing servers.

In summary, the event emphasised the essential role of trust in establishing and maintaining DPS. Key principles for trust-building mentioned in the discussion included transparency and user-centricity. The lessons learned spanned practical data protection measures, communicating and educating citizens, also on risk factors including AI, and effective cybersecurity considerations in the context of cloud computing.