The Unified National Population Registry Moves Forward
How we managed to revive a project considered (by most) to be hopeless
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In a post we wrote at the end of July, we announced our plan for completing one of the most complex tasks: a unified National Population Registry as the essential backbone of the Italian digital infrastructure, without which the digitization of the Public Administration would be impossible. This is the reason why the Digital Transformation Team is working on the improvement and execution of this platform, making ANPR one of the milestones for the digital transformation of the country.
But why is a unified registry so important for the State and, above all, for the citizen?
ANPR is a complex project which includes among its relevant stakeholders 8,000 Municipalities and 40 software houses; the Ministry of the Interior is the owner – so to speak – and Sogei the project executor. In addition, there are other entities which are indirectly involved in the project such as ISTAT, the Revenue Agency, INPS and Civil Motorization Office as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Simplifying and organizing this complex puzzle was our first concern.
With the signing of the new contract for the ANPR project in August, the Digital Transformation Team has assumed the role of Program Office for ANPR; thus, we are not only taking over the plan, which should be agreed upon by all the software houses, but we are also dealing with the technological evolution of the platform. In short, we assumed a great responsibility in re-launching and developing ANPR, since it’s a project in which we strongly believe. Why? Let’s go over one reason at the time.
ANPR: a single Municipality of 60 million inhabitants
The National Resident Population Registry is a large project on a national scale: a single database containing all personal data of the resident population in Italy and of the Italian citizens living abroad (who have registered with the AIRE – Registry of Italian Residents Abroad). It’s a fundamental component of the operating system of the country as it is the essential infrastructure; it’s the foundation upon which we are building all the other components of the system that will help us beat the challenge of the country digital transformation.
As a platform, ANPR represents an advantage not only for Municipalities (in administrative and economic terms) but also for citizens.
We’ll give you a few examples.
Have you ever made a change in residence to a new Municipality? In addition to providing the APR4 form, the documents and various certifications, the change requires that the Municipality notify all the other offices involved, for example, the Civil Motorization Office or the INPS. This complexity is caused by that fact that not only the different registries do not communicate with each other but also the different Public Administrations. Furthermore, many communications are still processed manually; hence, municipalities are robbed – so to speak- of valuable time while the quality and accuracy of data is often compromised.
What happens on the ANPR platform, on the other hand, is very different. For the already integrated Municipalities, the change of residence process is an immediate operation that doesn’t require any physical correspondence between the Administrations. Moreover, there’s no longer a need for Municipalities to notify other bodies such as the Civil Motorization Office, INPS and, soon, ISTAT, directly.
The benefit of having all data on a single national system – and not just in the silos of a single Municipality – is the establishment of a single communication network, an intersection of roads that will lead us all towards a single, boundless Municipality, as big as Italy itself. This system will lead to using the identical method of data description, information storage and certification.
In the very words of Romano Minardi, who more than a year ago led the integration of the first Municipality (Bagnacavallo) into ANPR:
The experience of the Municipalities that have merged into the national registry proves that switching to ANPR is possible: the system works. Now, it is the right time to make that journey. It doesn’t make any sense waiting or waiting for somebody else that will do it for you.
It’s time to do it. With a wider migration to the ANPR platform, new advantages will emerge which will become more and more evident with the launch of central digital services. What do we mean by this? For example, Municipalities could use ANPR certificates to replace their online certification systems, often costly to maintain, and launch or even offer it as a new service (in case they don’t yet have it).
Furthermore, citizens of Municipalities that migrated to the ANPR platform could print their certificates and personal online data, without having to go in person to their Municipality of residence and without the Municipality itself having to bear the cost of these services: a sort of self-service for registry certificates.
This is still an intermediate stage as the ‘era of certification’ should have already been over some time ago (and it will have to end soon anyway). Certificates should no longer be required and in a few years we will finally be living in a world without registry certificates. Indeed, we’d like to remind you that Public Administrations are no longer required by law to request certificates.
From now on, we need to work on the digitalization of the processes between Public Administrations and private agencies so that the systems may communicate with one another and obtain information without requiring a citizen to present a paper document.
These are just a couple of examples of the usefulness of the platform; this invaluable networks would be built day by day to achieve positive externalities. Much has been accomplished in last few months; we’d like to tell you more.
The work done on ANPR by the Digital Transformation Team
One of our first steps was to communicate exclusively to the Municipalities, through documents, which explain simply and precisely, all the advantages and simplifications brought about by the adoption of ANPR. The documents had different purposes; they were meant to explain step-by-step the operational changes that the migration to ANPR will entail for the Administrations; provide a list of FAQs on procedures; present a timetable (we estimated a maximum of two months for the integration of the Municipalities into a compatible management software); discuss the new opportunities that will become available. In the end, we decided to regularly update all Municipalities and the managers in charge, through a regular newsletter on ANPR (if you’re interested in following the developments of the project, you can subscribe here).
In addition, we have created a dashboard that collects and aggregates all ANPR data, which is, of course, in continuous evolution. It’s an important tool that allows anyone to have a graphic update of the project progress,with up-to-date numbers on the Municipalities.
The most recent data shows how today the project involves over six million inhabitants; there are 1000 Municipalities preparing to integrate themselves into ANPR (and are therefore in the pre-takeover phase), and 50 active ones (many of which have only adopted ANPR in the last few weeks).
These numbers correspond to roughly 10% of the population and are, as such, still too small.Yet, they are representative of the new life of ANPR; it’s restarting and the acceleration it’s finally undergoing.
The role of software houses in the takeover process
From the beginning, we understood the importance of coordinating with the software houses that are supporting the Municipalities in the migration process. We engaged their relevant associations in order to have one representative who could act as a reference during the drafting of the Municipalities Migration Plan.
We provided them with an online platform where they could enter dates (or at least time intervals) for the migration; it allowed us to compile the first operative Plan for ANPR which is updated daily and is available on the dashboard.
We are also working with the software houses and with Sogei to make the process – which includes, for instance, the distribution of smart cards to prefectures – traceable and “industrial”.
Change Management and Test Environment
In the spirit of Open Government (which includes open documentation, data and software codes), ANPR is available on the Developers Italia community starting from the community’s launch.
We are using this platform to work with collaborative tools accompanied by moderation, consultation and review processes; exactly as it occurs on GitHub, our main support tool, and thanks to which we have collected over 500 issues and 1300 comments.
But that’s not all. Through GitHub, we have also been able to track changes and compile the first version of Change Management; the document describes the processes to be adopted to manage the software changes that are required by ANPR, and the basic tools that are needed to plan the work still to be done with Sogei.
When this process of implementation, which includes the writing of the software itself as well, will be completed, ANPR will be a totally transparent platform, fully compatible with the spirit of the developer community.
We are also working on a free test environment which everyone (and not just the software houses that already have a Municipality client) can interface. Such a service is a fundamental requirement as an open source SDK (Software Development Kit) for ANPR.
The next steps
A great effort has been made in these few months but much remains to be completed. Firstly, we need to make sure that ANPR becomes a platform adopted by the majority of Municipalities (the clear target is 8,000 Italian Municipalities); then, we must continue to work in parallel with the improvement of the service, planning new features and possibilities for the platform.
In short, there are still many things left for us to do and many goals that we’ve set towards which we are still working.
Improve the product and offer direct services to citizens
We want to make ANPR a service that continuously evolves and can concretely improve the life of the citizen. For example, thanks to a self-service that will print all our data, we won’t have to resort to paper forms or self-certifications. ANPR is (and increasingly will be) an essential component of the concept of digital citizenship. Its successful completion is a mission that the Digital Transformation Team has made its own, and for which it is working tirelessly.
Extend the functionality of ANPR
It’s important to emphasize that ANPR is not a finished, static project. It is a moving target; it is the mirror of our registry and society and, as such, it evolves. It follows, of course, the evolution of our country, and represents a profitable exchange between citizens and their Municipalities, thanks to the feedback and comments from its users. It’s an open dialogue, in the understanding that we should work together to reach our collective goal; we are all finishing a marathon that is just at the beginning and more is still to be run.
We wish to conclude with an important information. The ANPR project is one of the first cases of digital transformation financed through European funds, in particular, the Operational Program for Governance and Institutional Capacity (1), and the first in the context of the Three Year Plan for Information Technology of the Public Administration.
We’ve been working with the Ministry of Public Administration, the Cohesion Agency and ANCI to make sure that in this process of transition to ANPR, Municipalities are supported by an economic contribution that does not require complex bureaucratic procedures.
We issued a call for Municipalities to be reimbursed upon completion of the full transition to ANPR and according to their demographic classification. It’s a new, simple and direct model in which we strongly believe, and which, we hope, will help to further accelerate the project.
(1) The PON Operational Program for Governance and Institutional Capacity, financed by the European Union through the Agency for Territorial Cohesion (all information can be found here), is aimed at strengthening the administrative, institutional and digitalization capacity of the Public Administration.