Residents of Nice, France are remotely accessing city services confidentially and well beyond normal city hall operating hours – all from a popular shopping mall.
The Nice Cote d'Azur Metropolitan Area and the City of Nice have joined forces with technology leader Cisco to launch the first worldwide pilot of the 'virtual city hall cabin' – transforming the delivery of services to citizens right from the Nice Etoile shopping mall.
The "cabin" is equipped with Cisco high definition video equipment that allows residents to interact face-to-face with a remote agent who receives and processes requests (for example, for on-street parking permits) and suggests the correct procedures and related forms.
To understand the set-up:
· 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 agent/advisor
· The adviser welcomes the resident via the TelePresence video/sound system, speaks with them and offers relevant documents on the touch screen
· The conversation is facilitated by a camera and a scanner, which allows the adviser to familiarize him or herself 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 with the agent
· A form or any other document can also be sent to print remotely
The point of the integrated solution, Cisco notes, is 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 services that have only been available within city hall previously.
Robert Vassoyan, Director General of Cisco France, called the "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."
At the end of the pilot – and based on public response to it - the City of Nice and the Nice Cote d'Azur Metropolitan Area may consider deploying such cabins in other community locations, or by broadening the range of services available. Access to the cabin for persons with reduced mobility is also being examined.