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A European Commission report says the UK's online services show a marked improvement since last year.

The UK government's online services are rated fifth best in Europe for sophistication and availability, according to a report (pdf) by IT consultancy Capgemini on behalf of the European Commission.

The UK rises one place from sixth in last year's rankings. Ahead of the UK is Austria, followed by Malta, Slovenia, and Portugal.

The report measures 20 services against five levels of quality, each within separate percentage score bands. Pro-active services fall into the top category. These are defined as those where intelligent pre-populating of customer forms occurs, and those that have a certain degree of predictive capability.

For the first time, the report measures how user-centred a service is, rating them across three areas: qualitative measures, such as whether legally binding identification systems are in place, user choice in terms of communication channels with the provider, and accessibility.

Key findings for the UK are that:

  • Eighty-nine per cent of basic public services are fully available online – a marked improvement on 2006, where the number stood at around 70 per cent.
  • Online sophistication of public services averages at 90 per cent.
  • The sophistication of services for citizens is almost as good as those provided for businesses.
  • Four out of nine services rated as proactive attain a 100 per cent score, above the European average.
  • A score of 20 per cent for user-centricity, above the EU average of 19 per cent.
  • The majority of UK public services for citizens are accessible through the national portal (Directgov and Business Link).

The report says Directgov and Business Link offer examples of best practice in personalised, targeted gateways to public service delivery. Directgov achieved a 90 per cent score against an average for the EU of 75 per cent.

Overall, the findings show that Europe continues to make sound progress on the supply of online public services.

Businesses appear to be well served and significant progress has been made to improve services for citizens. However, the report says much remains to be done to serve citizens who are increasingly used to using internet services.

Neglect would result in the gap between the public and commercial online worlds growing wider, warns the report. It adds: "Today's challenge is to close that gap – delivering an experience that attracts and fulfils citizen needs, efficiently, consistently and economically."

The report is the seventh annual measurement of the progress of online public service delivery across Europe. It features results from two core measurements of sophistication and fully online availability of services from public agencies in 31 countries – the 27 EU member states, plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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