Office 4.0. Reality or distant future?


Office 4.0. Reality or distant future?

Cities such as Brno, Ostrava or Zlín invest millions of crowns a year in digitalization. Electronic payments for waste or parking, electronic submission of applications for subsidies or online enrollment of children in kindergartens – this is what the digitalization of public services looks like in 2021.

The digitalization of public services is a rather abstract concept without a detailed definition. In practice, however, it should be about converting existing agenda into digital form – from various types of forms to information systems. Despite the fact that we still perceive almost no substantial changes to the project called “Digital Czechia“, the Czech Republic has already set out three pillars to modernize existing processes – they will concern the position of the Czech Republic in digital Europe, the information concept of the Czech Republic or the digital economy and society.

“The Digital Czech Republic concept has been prepared by stakeholders, mostly from the republic’s leadership, since 2018. However, information available from the project’s official website suggests that implementation plans are already behind schedule. If we want to succeed in a highly competitive world, we need to step up,” comments Jaromír Hanzal from the Association for Applied Research in IT (AAVIT), which is addressing the issue.

Digitization is costly, but not always in the tens of millions

When talking about the modernization of the entire state infrastructure, the cost will undoubtedly be astronomical – but innovations are needed, so it is necessary to take into account the individual costs of sub-projects. It will not always be tens or hundreds of millions. In Zlín, for example, the cost of one of the key innovations will not exceed CZK 1 million.

“In Zlín, we have a citizen portal. However, the portal is outdated at the moment and we are working on its modernisation. Now we are in the stage of preparing a public contract – the estimated value of the modernization is CZK 900 thousand including VAT,” explains Tomáš Melzer, spokesman for the Zlín City Council.

Other towns are also working on the citizen portal, which is intended to make everyday problems of citizens easier. They want to simplify waste payments or make parking permits easier for their residents. 

“Everything is related to the launch of our Brno iD portal. The cost of all the development cost the city four million crowns, but we already know that it was the right and effective step,” explains Tomáš Koláčný, Deputy Mayor of Brno.

In Ostrava, they praise the digitisation of the registration of children in kindergartens or the subsidy portal for entrepreneurs. “Parents are happy for this opportunity and have actively joined the registration system. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, appreciate the clear list of all subsidies provided and entities registered for subsidy calls. Of course, the use of the electronic payment gateway, an electronic ordering system, which is used by 30 thousand citizens a year, is a matter of course,” says Břetislav Gibas, secretary of the Ostrava City Council.

Data boxes for all citizens are the first step

Most regional cities are gradually progressing in digitalization, although they are still far from the ideal. However, the city representatives contacted agree that the time and cost savings for both visitors to the offices and the office itself are significant. Not to mention the environmental savings. And what would speed up digitalization?

“If we manage to deploy data boxes for all citizens of the Czech Republic, then our clear goal is to provide all possible services to citizens online,” informs Gibas.

Cities or regions are also taking advantage of subsidies, thanks to which they are trying to upgrade their online services to a more technically advanced solution. “We are currently preparing a new Services Portal, which we will implement next year with EU funding and at a cost of around CZK 4 million. We are practically creating a small Citizen Portal of the Ministry of the Interior, which will help integrate third-party services into a unified portal environment,” informs Tomáš Kotyza, Director of the Moravian-Silesian Regional Office.

Local businesses offer their expertise

When digitising state administration, it is not surprising that individual states in some cases turn to subject matter experts from the private sector for advice. In the case of the Czech Republic, too, this type of cooperation is not ruled out. This is why business associations are being formed to bring together experts in digitalisation. An example is AAVIT, headed by Oliver Dlouhý from

“We all know that the coronavirus pandemic has exposed some of the shortcomings in online communication between the citizen or business and the state, and hence the city. We need to urgently start solving the problems and appeal to politicians to take digitalisation as one of the current priorities,” says Oliver Dlouhý, founder of and president of AAVIT.

“The digitalization of public services is a key issue not only for the state, but also for citizens and businesses. We try to communicate with officials and offer solutions, but we often encounter rigidity, lack of a clear strategy, lack of qualified IT specialists, lack of trust in new technologies and solutions (already proven by the private sector) and the associated delay in the legislative framework. All this, combined with the strong position of the “traditional” suppliers of public administration and their solutions, creates a huge boulder that is difficult to move.” adds Jiří Horyna, CEO of Prague-based software house eMan, a founding member of AAVIT.