NICE, FRANCE - Feb 25, 2013 - Shopping or administrative formalities? From now on, the residents of Nice will no longer have to choose. This is thanks to a new virtual city hall, which offers real-time services installed in the heart of the Nice Etoile shopping mall. Committed to a process of improving public services for local residents, the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolitan Area and the City of Nice have joined forces with technology leader Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) to launch the first worldwide pilot of the 'virtual city hall cabin'. In order to bring administrative services closer to communities, the 'Spot Mairie' (City Hall Point) cabin has been installed in the Nice Etoile shopping mall. Equipped with Cisco high definition video equipment, it allows residents to carry out different administrative formalities by interacting face-to-face with a remote agent. This experiment -- which is a first for public services -- falls within the framework of a partnership agreement signed between the Nice Metropolitan Area and Cisco France for the area's digital development.
'Spot Mairie': a local service that brings public services into communities
The first 'Spot Mairie' cabin has been installed in the heart of Nice on the zero level of the Nice-Etoile shopping mall, next to the City of Nice kiosk.
On entering the 'Spot Mairie' cabin, the user speaks directly with an agent. Via an interposed screen, the agent receives and processes requests (such as marital status and on-street parking permits) and suggests the correct procedures and related forms in an interactive manner.
The exchange takes place under face-to-face conditions facilitated by a Cisco TelePresence device (high definition video and high quality sound) and remote collaboration tools including:
A touch screen for viewing and completing documents
A camera and scanner allowing the agent to see or scan the documents brought by the resident
A printing system in the cabin, so you can leave with the right form
A mailbox allowing you to submit your file
A sports club could also make a request to reserve a meeting hall at the 'Spot Mairie', as another example.
'Spot Mairie' is a free service, accessible to all and without the need of an appointment. It is available during regular Nice Etoile shopping center hours (from 8:30am to 7:30pm, Monday through Saturday).
When in use, the 'Allo-Mairies' (Hello-City Hall) call center agents respond to residents' requests made through the 'Spot Mairie' cabin. This is regardless of whether it's a request relating to operations under the responsibility of the Nice Town Hall1 or the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolitan Area.2 All the 'Allo-Mairies' telephone advisers receive proper training on the device and the new procedures.
The services offered by 'Spot Mairie' complement the information operations already provided by the 'Allo-Mairies' service via telephone. The direct, face-to-face contact with an agent in the cabin allows the user's degree of understanding to be gauged (perception of gestures, attitudes, expressions) and immediate processing of a request.
Christian Estrosi, Mayor of Nice and President of the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolitan Area: "The fact that this world-first trial is being carried out in the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolitan Area is the result of our active mobilization to make the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolitan Area a benchmark in terms of technological innovation, sustainable development and connectivity. Today we are proud to offer our residents a local solution to facilitate their access to public services."
Robert Vassoyan, Director General of Cisco France: "The Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolitan Area is an area of innovation in terms of infrastructures and digital practices. The installation of a cabin in a community is a new way of improving the relationship between the Metropolitan Area's users and agents. The implementation of 'Spot Mairie' is a good illustration of the fact that behind the Internet's technological vision of objects, great achievements are possible for better city living. We are pleased that our communication technologies, in particular TelePresence, are contributing to strengthening local contact with the people of Nice."
'Spot Mairie': simple to use and immediate interaction
The 'Spot Mairie' device is operated as follows:
On one side of the cabin (which is installed by the choice of the community -- in a public place such as a shopping mall), users can remotely access services confidentially and with extended opening hours.
On the other side, back office agents can engage in video consultation and collaboration with the user sitting in the cabin.
The user goes into the cabin, closes the glass door, presses a single button on the touch screen and the cabin automatically launches a video call to the adviser.
The adviser welcomes the resident via TelePresence (Cisco high definition video screen with high quality sound), speaks with them and offers relevant documents on the touch screen.
The user/adviser conversation is facilitated by a camera and a scanner, which allows the adviser to familiarize themselves remotely with the different documents that the user wishes to share.
The touch screen includes collaboration functions, providing assistance to the user in completing a form or to co-create an administrative file.
The adviser assesses the user's degree of understanding and satisfaction through their verbal communication and/or non-verbal behavior.
A form or any other document can also be sent to print remotely.
At the end of the interview, a satisfaction survey is displayed on the touch screen and allows the user to provide their assessment of the service.
At the end of the trial (and based on support for this new device), the City of Nice and the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolitan Area may consider extending the project by deploying 'Spot Mairie' cabins in other community locations in the Metropolitan Area, or by broadening the range of services available. Access to the cabin for persons with reduced mobility is also being examined.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for towns and residents
For over 10 years, Cisco has been working on Smart + Connected Communities projects and developing 'smart solutions' that allow communities to respond to new challenges of 21stcentury cities. Cities that use the Internet as a platform for planning, designing and managing their operations on a daily basis see each aspect of community life become more efficient, thus improving city management, quality of life for residents, sustainable urbanization and the like.
Thanks to the Cisco Remote Expert for Government Services (RE4GS) solution (called 'Spot Mairie' in the case of Nice), Cisco aims to change the administrative experience and improve the delivery of citizen services. This integrated solution aims to bring public services closer to places residents typically frequent (such as municipal libraries and shopping malls), providing remote access to an expert and with extended operating hours to facilitate administrative formalities that have only been available within city hall.
Eventually, the networking of an urban area and the presence of Cisco RE4GS cabins will allow better access to public services offered to citizens. These cabins will also facilitate the efficient and economical organization of the administrative offices that are open to the public and allow organizational gains to be reconciled (cost of agents' local presence, extension of service working hours, multi-site capacity and the like). It also helps promote a better perception of public services. Furthermore, these innovative solutions decrease the number of journeys made by residents, which contributes to reducing each resident's carbon footprint in respect of the community's Agenda 21.
For more information: http://www.smartcitiesblog.cisco.fr andhttp://www.smartconnectedcommunities.org
1 Civil Status, Community Life, Youth & Entertainment Activities, Space Management, Safety & Prevention, Culture & Sports.
2 Habitat and Housing, Waste Collection and Management, Roads.
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