Promoting User-friendliness and Web Service Standards in Japan

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  • 2016•12•15     Tokyo

    As part of the EGOV for Context-Specific Public Service Delivery project, academic personnel from the UNU Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance (UNU-EGOV) had the opportunity to provide the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication (MIC) and its IT Strategic Headquarters (ITSH) with some insight into current development trends in online service delivery and one-stop portal structures.

    Having launched the MyNumber initiative in late 2015 (also known as the “Social Security and Tax Number System”), Japan not only has a unique 12-digit identification number for all residents, including foreign nationals and children, but such ID number also allows for online identification and digital signatures.

    To optimise the value added by the MyNumber initiative, past and present government investments in information and communications technology continue to aid the effort carried by ITSH and MIC to develop a number of strategic initiatives related to web services and data standards. The aim is to increase the user-friendliness of government websites, improve online services through the application of the “once-only” principle for government data, and reuse both government infrastructures and components.

    The meetings between Japanese officials of ITSH and MIC were led by UNU-EGOV Academic Fellow and Tallinn University of Technology researcher Morten Meyerhoff Nielsen. Amongst other topics, the meetings covered funding, organisational and decision making models for national citizen and business portals, how to ensure that the portal becomes the national “shopping centre” for government-related questions and transactional services, and the use of personas for service development, user-testing, navigation, and marketing purposes.

    The dialogue also highlighted the importance of user-journeys, that is, personal and proactive service delivery across organisational silos. Similar to the recent portal evaluation workshop for the Omani Information Technology Authority, the importance of everyday language use, the ease of finding answers to questions, logical and intuitive structure and interphases, and compliance with national and international standards for security and web-accessibility (i.e. the WCAG 2.0 AA standard) was emphasised. Throughout the discussion, the strengths and weaknesses of various national examples were highlighted, including those of Denmark, Colombia, and the United Kingdom.

    For more information, see the news story on the UNU-EGOV website.