A municipality without city hall? How can people arrange their affairs? In the municipality of Molenwaard, everything works just fine.
The municipality of Molenwaard is a municipality in the province of South Holland, the Netherlands, created by merging the former municipalities Graafstroom, Liesveld, and Nieuw-Lekkerland. These municipalities were merged on 1 January 2013. In total approximately 29,000 people reside in this new municipality.
Shortly after its founding, the municipality decided to abolish the physical city hall in favor of a digital environment: a virtual municipality. The project was announced in September 2013. On October 1, 2014, the doors of city hall were closed permanently.
As a result, this is the first municipality in the Netherlands without a permanent location. Between eighty and ninety percent of all municipal activities takes place through the website. For other issues, government officials visit citizens at their homes.
To work mostly digitally, the municipality requires an accessible and functional website. The municipality built its website to be extremely simple to navigate and use. Through the homepage visitors can select their reason for digitally visiting the municipality, and is lead through a selection process.
If one opts for an appointment, he is led through a selection menu. For example, it is possible to make an appointment to pick up a passport at one of the six addresses in the different village centers.
If one opts for information about a particular topic, it is possible to listen to this information with ReadSpeaker. The municipality of Molenwaard has chosen to use ReadSpeaker to make its website more accessible, for people with disabilities, those who have low literacy levels, and for those whom Dutch is not the native language.
ReadSpeaker was implemented on the municipality website by its external web agency. Everything went fast and without problems, according to Sebastian Gerats, Team Leader Communications.
In order to improve our current website, we found it necessary to include the reading functionality. This helps all our citizens through the digital landscape. Especially since the vast majority of processes within the municipality of Molenaard are completed digitally (online), it is important to make sure information is accessible. As a result, we have more time for personal contact with those citizens who really need it.
After receiving the offer from ReadSpeaker, we went live within 2 weeks with the improved website and listen functionality. The execution went very quickly, without problems.
Sebastiaan Gerats, Team Leader Communications
- Communicate information without a physical town hall.
- A simple, easy-to-navigate website in which one can easily find information.
- Use of text to speech to increase accessibility of digital content.
- A municipality that runs without a physical presence, with most services available digitally.
ReadSpeaker on the website of the municipality of Molenwaard: