The Municipality of Nea Ionia digitises its services to support vulnerable people during the Covid-19 crisis



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Organisation name Municipality of Nea Ionia

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Contact person: Despina Thomaidou

During the emergency measures taken during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Municipality of Nea Ionia, Greece, needed to provide enhanced and timely support to people in need and ensure their well-being during and after the pandemic. The Directorate of Social Protection of the Municipality of Nea Ionia acted promptly, strengthening the social care services for the elderly, isolated and vulnerable citizens by utilising Novoville’s digital citizen engagement platform. At the same time, the municipality activated a special five-digit 24-hour phone line for helping vulnerable citizens who do not have access to smartphones or are not digitally skilled.

The Novoville platform started operating at the Department of Social Protection on 31 March 2020, to ensure smooth service delivery for vulnerable groups of the population. The goal of the municipal authority and the Department of Social Protection was to utilise new technologies to better support vulnerable citizens without them having to leave their home, improve service delivery and management, and have direct communication with people in need, at any time.

The implementation time of the project was only two weeks, which included the supply of the system by the municipality, the required customisation of the platform and the training of the municipality’s social services staff. Initially, the project concerned the support of the basic daily needs of the vulnerable groups of the population: help at home, free meals and housing provision, medical prescriptions and delivery of prescriptions, medical care, social and physiotherapy services, requests for volunteering and for blood donations, as well as applications for certificates.

Novoville’s cloud-based solution enables vulnerable citizens to request help and report issues related to their basic daily needs to the social services of the municipality immediately, through a free mobile app. At the same time, it allows social services to register citizens’ needs and contact details, view, organise and manage all citizen requests on a single dashboard and keep citizens up to date about the progress of their request in real time.

The management dashboard enables the admin users of the municipality to view and manage citizen requests in real time, as well as communicate instantly with individuals or multiple citizens at once, through app notifications, SMS or e-mail. An important function of the dashboard is the ability to assign citizens to different groups depending on their needs, so it is easier to provide them with the support they need.

While the project was created to support the vulnerable groups during the pandemic, the digital system is still effectively used by the municipality to continuously support vulnerable residents. After the initial rollout of the Novoville platform to support people in need, the system expanded to all municipal services and is now being used daily by 50 employees and over 2700 residents. The administration of the municipality is looking to expand the project even further in the near future, with additional functionality pertaining to smart parking and permits.

Within two months (the duration of the lockdown measures in Greece), 538 requests for help were submitted to social services through the Novoville platform by 429 citizens, and 97% of these requests were resolved successfully. The most frequent requests concerned the execution of medical prescriptions (349 requests). At the same time, 533 messages were sent to citizens, regarding either the progress of their request or important announcements from the municipality.

Moreover, the social services of the Municipality of Nea Ionia offered the following:

  • execution of medical prescriptions and delivery of medication at home or in nearby pharmacies;
  • coverage of basic necessities for financially weak residents;
  • daily meal provision for 29 elderly residents;
  • medical and social services;
  • carrying out three blood donations and collecting 50 plasma bottles;
  • supply of food to about 2000 beneficiaries on a monthly basis;
  • fulfilling requests for 25–30 beneficiaries per day, who apply for the Minimum Guaranteed Income (provided to over 3000 citizens), Housing Allowance (granted to over 2000 citizens), Disability Benefits, Social Care Allowance for the Elderly, and Birth Allowance.
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