Digital Ambassadors - introduction to digital self-service


  • lack of education, (digital) services


  • Digital self-service solutions and manuals
  • Re-design of workflow and training sessions


  • (Change of) culture and habits, demography
  • Money (investment / cost reduction)


  • Concept for 3 hour training sessions
  • ‘Navigation sheets’

Problems and challenges

The national Danish E-Government Strategy main target is for 80% of all transactions between citizens and public authorities to be digital in 2015. That raises the problem of how to prepare the citizens as well as the public organisations and their procedures, systems and routines to handle this challenge. Lack of education is a key issue, but in rural areas lack of services nearby is also important.

The transformation from face-to-face services in the Citizens' Service Centre to citizens’ use of digital self-service solutions via the internet must be prepared. In addition to the technical solutions and organisational changes required, both citizens and civil servants need education and training to be able to handle this new reality. That’s where Digital Ambassadors have a role to play.


The concept for Digital Ambassadors has been developed by ‘Local Government Denmark’ (LGDK) which is the special interest group and member authority for Danish municipalities. Vejen Kommune was one of the front runners and was involved in the development. Some key elements need to be prepared:
•    Implementation of digital self-service solutions in the official website
•    Design of ‘navigation sheets’ – manuals for a number of digital self-service solutions
•    Education and development of organisation and routines for staff
•    Preparation of training sessions for citizens to become Digital Ambassadors

Staff education began in 2010, and many three-hour training sessions have been run since then. Up to now more than 500 citizens and civil servants in Vejen Kommune have been trained to assist other citizens in using digital self-service solutions. The outcome has resulted in a reduction of face-to-face transactions, and many citizens are now more capable to use digital solutions at anytime. That means that public resources can be prioritised to support citizens who for some reasons are not able to use self-service solutions.


Lack of education, local traditions and habits can be very important barriers. Citizens and civil servants need introduction and training activities to get comfortable with digital services, and usual routines and workflow need to be redesigned to match new digital solutions.

More fundamental and critical is a low level of ICT readiness in an (ageing) population and of course poor or missing broadband infrastructure. Political awareness is also crucial, and in our case, members of the City Council were among the first to be trained as Digital Ambassadors.

Last but not least, the economy plays an important role. A business case tool may help to ensure that investments in ICT systems and software development can be financed by reduction of cost per transaction. One digital self-service transaction costs very little compared to face-to-face transactions, but you also need to make changes and maybe reduce the number of employees in your Citizens Service Centre as the number of digital self-service transactions rises.


An important lesson is that there must be a number of super users and a well defined  ‘training course’. In our case courses last three hours with different hands-on exercises for the users in a closed test environment.

Then involvement of many different groups of citizens and the use of different channels and events to spread the concept is very important. In Vejen Kommune we have involved libraries, activity centres for elderly people and other communities, and the staff in our Citizens’ Service Centre have assisted citizens and taught them how to help themselves.

A number of ‘Navigation sheets’ – like IKEA manuals - have been designed to describe every single step of the workflow in each digital self-service solution (only available in Danish language).

Most digital services are standardized Danish national solutions. They have been integrated into Vejen Kommune’s website, and they are also available via the national portals (for citizens) (for enterprises)

Via these portals, every Danish citizen and enterprise can log into secure individual websites and make many different self-service transactions. Systems like this are of course a precondition to the introduction and use of digital self-service solutions.