Earlier this month, The City of Tel Aviv’s “DigiTel” Resident Card program won a bid to become the model for “DigiThane,” a new digital engagement platform for the city of Thane, in the state of Maharashtra, India. Following the DigiTel model, “DigiThane” will improve access to city services, provide new tools and exciting features, and bring residents and city officials closer together.
The bid presents a unique opportunity for these two cities to develop an innovative partnership on a global scale. The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality will provide the technology behind “DigiTel” and advise Thane officials as they implement the platform and array of services it offers. In exchange, the city of Thane will reimburse the cost of developing the system in Israel.
Tel Aviv has long been at the cutting edge of transforming the urban experience through integration of new digital tools into the urban landscape. For the last five years, the city has led this digital revolution with “DigiTel,” a resident card program that today boasts about one third of the City’s residents as members. DigiTel is an innovative platform that strengthens the connection between residents and city officials, allowing each resident to receive a variety of services and information via email, SMS, or through a website that is tailored to suit the needs of the individual, based on place of residence, interests, personal status, and more. DigiTel helps to reduce the cost of living in a city, offering discounts to outdoor events, cultural institutions, sport and leisure activities, as well as live updates on what’s happening in a neighborhood and around the city.
The DigiTel Initiative encompasses a broader set of efforts the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality has pursued in order to ensure residents, entrepreneurs, and app developers have all the tools and access they need to navigate the urban environment, including: providing free Wi-Fi in public spaces throughout the city, implementing an open data policy that ensures entrepreneurs and developers have access to city data, providing geographic information system (GIS) data, and sponsoring application development competitions based on online licensing, queuing services, and more. Thanks to the DigiTel Initiative, Tel Aviv was named the “World’s Smartest City” at the 2014 Smart City Expo in Barcelona, the leading conference on digital innovations in urban environments.
Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo,Ron Huldai: “DigiTel is now receiving international recognition for its innovative approach to improving residents’ access to municipal services and easing the cost of living in a city. The unique partnership between Tel Aviv-Yafo and Thane is an exciting example of a future where cities will collaborate and learn from each other on a global scale.”
The Spokesman of the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality, Gidi Shmerling, said: “DigiTel’s advantage is that it uses specific demographic information to target residents with exactly the information they want and need. DigiTel serves as a kind of matchmaker, linking Tel Aviv-Yafo’s rich cultural institutions to residents who enjoy access to events and activities at reduced prices.”
Zohar Sharon, Chief Knowledge Officer, Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality, who leads the partnership with India and manages the DigiTel project explains: “As of 2006, the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality and other partners have developed the Digital Matriculation Index. Local authorities can now evaluate the digitization level in their authority and understand what actions are required to promote the digitalization of the authority.”