The Municipality of Serres, since March 2020, has implemented an innovative service-oriented culture to protect its citizens amid the Covid-19 pandemic. This has accelerated the digital democracy it was already embracing, and launched an integrated set of health, educational and social initiatives addressed to all ages, from children to older people.
The Administration has acted quickly to establish a strong response to the crisis and let people stay at home as much as possible, but without depriving them of essential services. The main measures implemented are a door-to-door food and medicine distribution system, the ‘Assistance at Home’ programme for older people offering a range of certificates that had to be obtained in person otherwise. They also include online appointments, holding virtual meetings (also available on YouTube), supporting the National Health Care System, offering psychological assistance, organising online lessons of any kind for children – not only providing critical interaction.
The most innovative initiatives have been the new feature ‘e-demotis, added to the existing application ‘click ‘n’ spot’, so that more than 4300 certificates requests have been issued online. The pilot operation run by the Ministry of Digital Government has offered online appointment requests at the Municipal Citizens’ Service Centres (KEP). The virtual meetings held by the Municipal Council are also available on YouTube for live and recorded streaming. These innovations have ensured that the pandemic has not imposed a gap between policymakers and citizens, and that transparency and engagement are safeguarded. With the Covid-19 outbreak, a new benchmark has been set for inter-municipal cooperation, aiming at the development of services to facilitate the impact of the crisis that people are facing.
The Municipality of Serres has been showing an unprecedented level of leadership, that in such a context is of utmost importance, promoting so many activities for the protection and the resilience of its citizens. Safeguarding the Municipality of Serres during the pandemic has been a challenging process, however it has succeeded in remaining accountable, efficient and effective in these difficult times. This was mainly by improving digital technology but also adopting an integrated approach to citizen engagement. On an unprecedented scale, the municipality was able to bring together the citizens and facilitate the development of civil engagement in the form of volunteering to assist the community during the stay-at-home order.
Last but not least, the empathy, the motivation and the commitment of the administration employees have been essential in the overall response to the Covid-19 crisis.