Biscay Government Enhances Quality of Life for Citizens Through Innovative Leadership

The Diputación Foral de Bizkaia (Biscay County Authority) wanted to improve the quality of services provided by the government to its citizens. The organization decided to use Technologies of Information and Knowledge (TIK) to help the 1.2 million citizens of the historical territory to communicate more easily with municipal agencies. The Biscay County Authority partnered with Microsoft to develop the BiscayTIK Project, a Microsoft Citizen Service Platform–based initiative that provides free-of-charge email service to the entire population of Biscay, supplies each town hall employee with modern, integrated management applications, and operates a web portal that citizens can use to complete more than 100 of the most-requested services.

The County Authority oversees governmental administration for the historical territory of Bizkaia (Biscay), one of Spain’s most prosperous areas. To maintain its economic advantage and improve quality of life for its 1.2 million citizens, the County Authority wanted to create a program to improve delivery of citizen services in the 112 municipalities that make up the county.

Biscay lacked an integrated technology solution that would allow citizens to electronically request services from local governmental agencies. “We needed a way to bring local government and citizens closer together,” explains Ibon Oñate Zamalloa, General Manager of the BiscayTIK Foundation, the body through which the Biscay County Authority runs the BiscayTIK Project. “When people take time off from work to go to the town hall to apply for a permit or a resident’s certificate, for example, we become less competitive as a society because we are wasting valuable time that could be spent working. We wanted our citizens to be able to access municipal services during nonworking hours, from the comfort of their own homes. To accomplish this, our local governments needed to be more efficient at handling at least 100 different types of requests for services.”

*We’re using technology to bridge the gap between local administration and citizens, providing town hall employees and local authorities with the tools they need to deliver quality services.*

Ibon Oñate Zamalloa
General Manager, BiscayTIK Foundation

In 2007, the County Authority began exploring the possibility of developing technology-driven citizen services, using the Internet as the foundation for the solution. By this time, most of the population of Biscay had broadband Internet access in their homes and daily Internet use was on the rise. Also, technological and legal advancements provided the security measures necessary to verify identity and obtain signatures via the Internet—a key piece to developing a technology solution that citizens would feel comfortable using—employing commonplace documents such as Spain’s Electronic Identification card or the Public Health System electronic card.

With Internet access and security measures in place, officials decided the time was right to embark on an ambitious project: to develop Technologies of Information and Knowledge (TIK) for citizen services. “For the first time in our history, several factors aligned that would allow us to create a cost-effective technology solution that would make a positive contribution towards the quality of life for everyone in Biscay,” Oñate says.

The goal of BiscayTIK (as the project came to be known) was to improve the quality of services provided by the local government to citizens and improve operational efficiencies across the municipalities. The County Authority envisioned this ground-breaking initiative as a way to bridge the communication gap between governmental administrators and the general population of Biscay. With these goals in mind, the organization began searching for a technology partner to help develop and implement the solution.

In mid-2007, BiscayTIK began evaluating potential vendors that could help bring the vision of technology-driven citizen services to life.

“We looked closely at each of the vendors and decided on Microsoft,” explains Oñate. BiscayTIK was impressed by the Microsoft Citizen Service Platform solution, a framework of applications aimed at helping local governments deliver citizen services in a more efficient and profitable way. Using the Microsoft products, the Microsoft Citizen Service Platform delivers a range of business capabilities, including public server portals, citizen relationship management, interactive forms, and file document and registration management.

Local administrations can use the comprehensive framework of the Microsoft Citizen Service Platform to help identify opportunities to better fulfill the needs of the citizens that they support. For the County of Biscay, this includes compliance with Spain’s Law 11/2007 (Citizens’ Electronic Access to Public Services) and Law 51/2003 (Universal Access for Persons with Disabilities). Also, administrators can use the framework to deliver services to populations located in remote municipalities that may not otherwise have access to these resources. “BiscayTIK was created to improve the services offered by local administrations,” says Oñate. “In addition, we want Biscay to be seen as an example of how other local governments around the world can use electronic management.”

The County Authority created a BiscayTIK citizen service solution that is based on a range of Microsoft technologies, including Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Windows Server 2008 R2, Exchange Server 2010, SQL Server 2008 R2, BizTalk Server 2010, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0, and Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009. The citizen service solution includes:

  • The Citizens’ Services Portal, with general services for citizens, including free email accounts.

  • An Integrated Local Management System, to modernize IT tools for city councils.

  • A world-class Technology Center, to capture and share knowledge with the international community.

With support from Microsoft Consulting Services, BiscayTIK worked with the following technology

Figure 1: The web-based Citizens’ Services Portal
Figure 1: Residents can complete transactions—such as applying for documents
or permits—using the web-based Citizens’ Services Portals.
partners to develop this integrated solution: WISeKey for security and identity management, Oesía for the government resource planning tool, Savia for the human resources application, and Amvos for the customer resource management application for people with disabilities.

Citizens’ Services Portals
As part of the solution development process, designers performed an analysis of the municipal services that were most frequently requested by citizens. Designers used this information to develop Citizens’ Services Portals. Residents can now use the Internet to complete more than 100 tasks—such as applying for certificates and permits. Citizens can also access a catalog of procedures and check the status of their requests through the Internet, at any time and from anywhere, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without needing to go to the town hall.

These procedures are integrated directly into the file manager—after a procedure is initiated, it is managed directly from inside the system. The solution provides access to and identity management for all available citizen certificates, including BizkaiBai (the electronic card for the Biscay Regional Treasury Department), ONA (the Basque electronic health card), and the e-DNI (the Spanish electronic identification card).

The Citizens’ Services Portals are dynamic and permanent communication channels between the town council and all citizens. They provide access to general information about the municipality, including press releases, tourist information, street information, business profiles, and employment opportunities. The town councils have the ability to adapt the portals to suit the unique needs of their municipalities and to offer security-enhanced, customized communication to citizens.

The County Authority initiated a pilot program at town hall locations in Abanto-Zierbana, Balmaseda, Galdakao, Mundaka, and Arratia Mancomunidad. Based on the success of the initial deployment, all 112 municipalities were invited to join the project. By the end of 2010, 80 municipalities will be using the modules of Phase One (which includes the In/Out Registry, Census, File Management, and Proceedings portals). “It should be emphasized that this project is purely voluntary,” Oñate explains. “Town halls are under no obligation to participate, but if they decide to take part, they are free to choose when and how they want to implement the solution.”

Free Email Service for All Citizens
Using Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services, the Biscay County Authority created and deployed the domain. All local residents can request a free 5-gigabyte mailbox that can be accessed from any browser and that they can use as a communications channel with local administration. This email service is free of charge, carries no advertising, and includes a Basque-language version. In the first year, more than 55,000 people signed up for an account, and this number is expected to reach 100,000 by the end of 2010.

Figure 2: The Biscay County Authority created and
Figure 2: As part of the Citizen Services Solution, the Biscay County Authority
created and deployed
Citizens can use this email account as a “personal passport” to access all the other services available through the Citizens’ Services Portals. Account holders can receive news from their municipalities or from the Government of Biscay. People are also able to individually learn online through friendly computer courses, participate in contests, draws, or send personalized electronic postcards (see Figure 2).

Integrated IT Management
BiscayTIK project also developed an IT management system that provides town hall employees with more options for administering IT programs—specifically those designed to enhance electronic communications with the residents of the county. Any town council in Biscay can use the Integrated Local Management System, which centralizes IT architecture and eliminates the need for each municipality to spend time and money creating similar applications. The local management system is built on a SaaS (Software as a Service) architecture that allows town councils to access services through the Internet, eliminating the need to install applications on individual computers across the county. The entire infrastructure is centralized at the Government of Biscay offices.

In addition to supporting external citizen services, this system provides tools that are used by the internal departments of the town council: filing, registration, census, budgets, payroll, human resources, taxes and collection, public procurement, inventory, and social services. Council employees use the Integrated Local Management System to increase visibility into the current status of citizen requests, gain more control over workflows, and standardize daily tasks.

World-Class Technology Center
The BiscayTIK citizen service solution is generating insight and innovation regarding the relatively new field of e-administration. As a result, the Biscay government has created a state-of-the-art technology center that will act as a hub for knowledge sharing. This center has become a cornerstone of the Information Society in Biscay, and a boon to the local economy. The mission of the technology center is to generate and spread knowledge of technologies and services to citizens, and help local administrations to make better use of technology by encouraging people to use public services. The center aims to be an international resource and will host events, courses, and mastery training sessions designed to stimulate technological knowledge in the area of e-administration. “We believe there is great value in capturing and sharing the knowledge gained from this initiative so that it can be replicated in other countries,” says Oñate.

*With BiscayTIK, individuals save a considerable amount of time each year because they don’t need to go to the town hall as often as they did before.*

Ibon Oñate Zamalloa
General Manager, BiscayTIK Foundation

A provisional office has been established, and the official technology center, which will be based in Getxo, Spain, is scheduled to open in 2011.

Ongoing IT Leadership
BiscayTIK plans to augment the citizen services solution by regularly adding new applications. The organization is constantly evaluating new proposals and capabilities to insure that citizens, local governments, and technology center employees have access to world-class systems and services.

By creating a Microsoft Citizen Service Platform solution, BiscayTIK has brought local government and citizens closer together, improved the quality of services provided by the government, and enhanced operational efficiencies across municipalities. “We’re using technology to bridge the gap between local administration and citizens, providing town hall employees and local authorities with the tools they need to deliver quality services,” says Oñate.

Citizens and Local Government Closer Together
With free email service and the Citizens’ Services Portal, citizens can communicate with local authorities at any time and from any place that has an Internet connection. Also, town hall employees deliver services in a more efficient manner. “Now citizens have the ability to complete more than 100 tasks and inquiries online,” Oñate says. “The most-requested services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, which leads to improved citizen service and citizen satisfaction.”

Now, rather than taking time off of work and traveling to a town hall to make a request, citizens can use the web portal to request certificates, permits, and applications. For example, citizens can request construction permits or submit change of permanent address notifications directly through the online portal. Identification is authenticated using the citizens’ e-DNI smartcard, which means that requests can be completed within minutes rather than hours. BiscayTIK estimates that local communities are savings millions of euros a year thanks to the Citizens’ Services Portals—citizens can continue to be productive rather than wasting time standing in line at the town hall.

Enhanced Operational Efficiencies
Because municipalities can deliver services more cost-effectively, BiscayTIK estimates that local governments have reduced costs by 50 percent, and improved efficiency by 33 percent per transaction. BiscayTIK also estimates that—because of energy-efficient systems management, fewer citizens traveling to town halls, and reduced paper use by employees—Biscay has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1,000 tons a year.

“Ultimately, we want to use technology to assist social development and enhance our citizens’ quality of life,” Oñate concludes. “With BiscayTIK, individuals save a considerable amount of time each year because they don’t need to go to the town hall as often as they did before. This is time that they can use to engage in activities that boost the territory’s economy and—more importantly—their own enjoyment of life.”

Microsoft Government
Microsoft applications, solutions, and services help to empower public servants and government employees to share critical information and serve their constituents more efficiently.

For more information about Microsoft Government, please go to:

For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:

For more information about Amvos products and services, call +34 914 840 641 or visit the website at:

For more information about Oesía products and services, call 00 34 91 309 86 00 or visit the website at:

For more information about Savia products and services, call +34 91 314 28 15 or visit the website at:

For more information about WISeKey products and services, call +41 22 594 3000 or visit the website at:

For more information about BiscayTIK products and services, call + 34 94 600 00 20 or visit the website at:

Customer Size: Small Organization
Industry: Local Government Agencies
Country or Region: Spain
  • Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0
  • Microsoft BizTalk Server
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2010
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services
Organization Profile:

The County Authority is the executive power that manages governmental administration for the 1.2 million residents of Bizkaia (Biscay), one of Spain’s most prosperous areas.

Business Situation:

The County Authority wanted to use technology to bridge the gap between citizens and local government and to make it easier for citizens to communicate with municipal agencies.


  • Improved relationships between citizens and local government
  • Increased citizen access to services
  • Improved IT operational efficiencies
  • Enhanced quality of life
  • Time and cost savings

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