Digitalisation of Municipal Services in Southeast Europe (SEE) and Caucasus

Review of the virtual expert exchange on October 7, 2020

Photo: metamorworks | istock

Approximately 50 participants from more than 23 municipalalities from Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Albania (11 coutries) participated in the first virtual event of the knowledge-exchange series on Municipal Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The event focused on the process of the digital transformation of cities as a response to the COVID -19 outbreak. From the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, municipalities around the world experienced a strong push to digitalise not only their existing services but also create new protocols to tackle various crisis-induced demands. The aim of the event was to showcase good practices and new digital modalities that are already helping us imagine a greener and more equitable recovery from both the pandemic and ongoing climate crises.

The virtual event provided the space for an interactive exchange of experiences and all participants have engaged in a lively discussion bringing their local expertise to their peers.


In this virtual event, Ms Yulia Besplemennova from “service & system designer” discussed as a keynote speaker Service Design issues for more efficient digital transformation at municipal level. Furthermore, three good practices were shared from Tirana (Albania), Tbilisi (Georgia) and Essen (Germany). The moderated plenary session provided an opportunity for discussion between the presenters and the participants. The participants were then encouraged to continue with the exchange on the virtual platform Connective Cities where other resources were shared in addition to the session outputs. Overall, the following set of questions were addressed by the presenters:

  1. What have been the core challenges for municipal authorities in their role of supporting citizens during the pandemic?
  2. What measures, innovative and digital solutions have municipal authorities put in place?
  3. How do the municipal authorities deal with vulnerable groups which were most affected by the pandemic?
  4. Are municipal authorities planning to set different development-or service-related priorities in the aftermath of the pandemic?
  5. What are the lessons learned from the perspective of municipal authorities?

Presentations of good practices

  1. Digitalisation of the Tirana municipal services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Ms. Faola Hodaj, Tirana municipality
  2. Ensuring continuous delivery of municipal services in Tbilisi through web-platform with an integrated hotline.
    Ms. Sophio Barnabishvili; Tbilisi Municipality
  3. Using innovation and technology to improve municipal services during the COVID-19 outbreak in Essen, Germany.
    Mr. Peter Adelskamp, City of Essen


During the event, urban practitioners from more than 20 municipalities discussed the specific cases from South East Europe, Caucasus and Germany, shared their insights on the topic, and laid out the framework for future cooperation. City leaders and urban practitioners discussed together paramount trends, opportunities and challenges emerging along with the process of developing and reinventing municipal responses amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

In order to follow through with the initiatives of the municipalities, Connective Cities provided a practice-oriented exchange between network members on Connective Cities platform where members could share their challenges and interventions in the provision of their municipal responses.

Connective Cities