Close encounters of the digital kind: How digitalization of public services challenges the public encounter

Ida Lindgren, Christian Østergaard Madsen, Sara Hofmann, Ulf Melin

Publikation: Konferencebidrag - EJ publiceret i proceeding eller tidsskriftKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningpeer review


In everyday life, citizens interact with public organizations for a multitude of purposes, ranging from reporting or retrieving information, to applying for services that are important for their health and livelihood. In fact, this interaction between citizens and public officials – the public encounter – shapes citizens’ and public officials’ very perception on what the public is and what it means to be part of a specific society. Over the past century, advances in technology have created new ways for citizens and public officials to interact, gradually reshaping the nature of the public encounter by adding multiple channels for interaction. The
implementation of digital and internet-based services constitutes another wave in this technological development, with possibilities for new types of encounters between citizens and public organizations. Much has been said on the possibilities and challenges associated with digital public services, but little attention has been paid to the effect on the public encounter per se when we digitalize public services. In this conceptual paper, we look closer at the nature of the traditional public encounter and discusses digitalization of public services
from a public encounter perspective. The analysis shows that digitalized public services change the interaction between government and citizens; e.g., when, where, and how the interaction occurs, what each actor does, and the skills required of all involved actors. We illustrate that the meaning of the ‘public official’ can change when we digitalize public services; the official must no longer be understood in terms of being a trained (human) professional, it can also be an artefact of some kind. The paper is concluded with a discussion on how the characteristics of the public encounter must be reinterpreted when digitalizing
public services, and what implications this reinterpretation may bring for the design and use of digitalized public services in the future.
Publikationsdato29 jan. 2018
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - 29 jan. 2018
BegivenhedScandinavian Workshop on Electronic Government 2018 - CBS, København, Danmark
Varighed: 31 jan. 20181 feb. 2018 (facebook event page) (CBS)


WorkshopScandinavian Workshop on Electronic Government 2018