Tim Kooij
Tim Kooij Senior Account Manager
4 March 2024

Municipalities in control

From the 'abyss year' 2026 to a cloud-driven 2030

In the “abyss year” 2026, municipalities face a shortfall of approximately 3 billion euros in government funding. Starting that year, the central government aims to structurally reduce the allocation to municipalities. The role of the government is diminishing and changing, partly due to budget cuts, while the role of municipalities is expanding. How are municipalities dealing with this? What choices do they need to make, and what role does IT play? And what challenges do they encounter on their journey towards 2030?

Major societal developments will shape our near future, such as the impact of housing shortages, aging populations, and climate change. Balancing livable neighborhoods with more green spaces and water, along with housing for residents and businesses, is no easy task. For crucial issues like housing, employment, health, and growth, a strategic and systematic approach is essential.

Self-service for citizens and SaaS for the business bureau

The role of IT becomes increasingly important due to both societal shifts and technological advancements. Digitalization not only affects municipalities’ IT environments but also alters interactions between citizens, businesses, and the government. For instance, the implementation of self-service packages for citizens simplifies the digital process of renewing a driver’s license.

These developments directly impact municipalities’ IT infrastructure. The increasing adoption of SaaS aims to make municipalities more agile and efficient. However, this shift raises concerns about security and resilience. The Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) published a report last year with the following figures:

  • Nearly all (97%) municipalities use SaaS.
  • By 2025, it is expected that the share of SaaS in the total application landscape will increase to 70%.
  • 46% consider themselves adequately ‘in control’ regarding the Baseline Information Security Government (BIO) and General Data Protection Regulation (AVG) on SaaS.

Regarding the platform or infrastructure as a public cloud service:

  • 68% of municipalities use PaaS or IaaS, of which 91% use MS Azure.
  • 40% consider themselves adequately in control regarding BIO and AVG on PaaS/IaaS.
  • 38% anticipate a significant (>20%) increase in ICT costs due to cloud transition.
Insufficient knowledge and manpower in IT

These figures indicate that municipalities lack knowledge and resources for the two significant movements: ‘SaaSification’ and ‘cloud services.’ Because IT developments are evolving rapidly, having essential knowledge is crucial for future-proof IT policies. How can a municipality use AI to enhance its services? What role will home automation (domotica) and IoT play in allowing the elderly to live independently longer? These are not science fiction but questions that are already relevant.

These trends drive the demand for user-friendly applications and the growth of SaaS solutions, providing flexibility and ease of use. Hence, municipalities often follow the motto: “subscribe instead of invest.” However, the increase in SaaS means multiple cloud applications using centralized municipal data, posing a potential security risk.

The same study indicates that less than half of the respondents feel ‘in control’ concerning BIO and AVG. NIS2 (Network and Information Security directive) was not included in this research, but municipalities must also consider it. It signals that technological opportunities come with risks, requiring continuous adjustments and improvements to ensure information security. Most importantly, municipalities feel inadequate in responding adequately.

The maturity level of municipal IT is increasingly becoming a topic of discussion. Municipalities cannot and do not want to do everything themselves but also do not want to be entirely dependent on suppliers. However, they must take steps to realize their digital transformation. The question arises: how can they grow in their maturity level? 

"Aligned with the municipality's vision, an IT roadmap must be laid out, reliable enough to achieve the goal and flexible enough to accommodate changing circumstances."
Vision and collaboration in IT

The maturity level is indicated by a score according to the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) for IT proficiency. The Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) already included it in the report ‘Analysis of Cloud Developments 2023.’ To face future challenges, municipalities must focus on a long-term plan. This plan includes investments in recruiting and retaining qualified personnel in a competitive job market, effectively utilizing limited budgets, and continuously improving the ICT environment to meet increasing information security requirements.

The role of IT partners can make a significant difference in this regard. Aligned with the municipality’s vision, an IT roadmap must be laid out, reliable enough to achieve the goal and flexible enough to accommodate changing circumstances. This roadmap is a tool to plot a suitable route for the municipality, mapping desires and possibilities in workshops and making choices. These choices are then translated into a functional design, such as a ‘cloud landing zone’ as the basis for the IT platform. With each step the municipality takes, IT maturity also grows.

From vision to future-proof IT platform

With the above outline, it becomes clear that the vision and the roadmap form the basis for a future-proof IT platform with the desired functionality and security. After design, construction, and transition, the municipality positions itself as the coordinating organization at the center of IT, connecting questions and answers. Once again, the magic word is ‘collaboration’ because the IT landscape consists of dozens of software vendors, cloud providers, workplace providers, security service partners, local networks, etc.

With the right governance, the municipality retains control, translating the 2030 vision into IT provisions. With the municipality in control, a roadmap, and the right partners, there is enough confidence to develop a future-proof IT platform for better service to citizens and businesses.

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