Digital solutions for public services represent a $400bn market worldwide according to Public.io (1). Some French entrepreneurs are innovating to put public entities more in line with citizens’ expectations. Get a sense of French GovTech through the story of Pierre, an almost real French guy.
One year ago, Pierre was unemployed and quite confused about his next career move. An ex-social worker with math background, he started looking at opportunities in the IT industry. His counsellor at Pôle emploi, the French unemployment agency, suggested he use Bob, a free AI-driven platform that helps jobless people improve their searches. A few months later, he got a position as a hotline technician for a software company.
On his way to work this morning, Pierre notices that a street light near the subway station doesn’t work anymore. “I should alert public services so that the street remains safe at night”, he thinks. He takes his smartphone and connects to Fluicity, an app that enables citizens to suggest ideas, participate in consultations and signal issues to the municipal team. The “civic tech” app was created by Julie de Pimodan, an ex-Google employee who was singled out by MIT in its annual list of “innovators under 35”. Fluicity reinforces the link between mayors and inhabitants. It actually got extra attention from mayors when the “yellow vest” demonstrations started in France.
Pierre plans to participate in the next Paris marathon in April. After his day of work, the 52-year-old goes to hospital for a health check-up. He has booked his appointment online with the free-of-charge website Doctolib, a French unicorn that works with 2,000 healthcare facilities and 150,000 doctors & secretaries. Pierre had set up an alert on Doctolib. He benefited from a last-minute cancellation of another patient. He could take the slot and have his check-up earlier than expected.
The check-up went well. Pierre can now enjoy his evening! He goes to his weekly singing class which is provided by its municipality. The city recently revamped its pricing grid so that such activities become more affordable for middle-class people. Indeed, the city staff recently realised that most people attending the classes were either modest or wealthy people, as prices were dissuasive for the other ones. The municipal team found it out by working with Manty, a big data startup that helps public entities clean and visualize their data to make better decisions for the profit of their citizens. The young software company is now expanding to Germany. And Pierre is happy to sing Edith Piaf with his fellow choristers. La vie en rose!
(1) Source: https://www.public.io/