How e-signatures facilitate the handling of vulnerable children in Östersund

The social services administration in Östersund Municipality in Sweden uses e-signatures to digitalize the decision-making process when vulnerable children, young people and addicts must be taken into involuntary care. “With e-signatures, the chairperson of the social services board doesn’t have to come to the office in the middle of the night to sign physical papers. Now they can sign directly from their smartphone – this increases legal certainty,” says Head of Unit Petra Olsson.

When a social welfare officer decides on immediate involuntary commitments or relocations of vulnerable children, young people and addicts, the decisions must be signed by the chairperson or vice-chairperson of the social services board.

No more nightly trips to the office

“This means that we call them straight away, even if it’s in the middle of the night. Prior to introducing e-signatures, they needed to stay nearby so that they could get to the office quickly if needed. Now they can sign via smartphone, whether at home or on the move,” says Olsson.

This makes life easier for the chairperson and vice-chairperson, and it also saves time for the social welfare officers, according to Olsson.

“It’s much smoother for everyone now. And e-signatures increase legal certainty for citizens because decisions can now be made directly, without delay. Signing electronically is a big improvement,” says Olsson.

Easy to get started with the solution

The social services administration in Östersund Municipality uses identity and security company Nexus Group’s e-signature solution.

“The social welfare officer uploads a PDF with the decision to a signing portal and then the chairperson signs using a smartphone app – it’s really smooth and user-friendly. The Nexus e-signature solution is fantastic, and it was easy to get started. I wholeheartedly recommend it to other municipalities,” says Christer Ljungqvist, IT coordinator at the social services administration.

The idea was born during a road show

The idea that the management of vulnerable children, young people and addicts could be streamlined was born when Ljungqvist visited a road show on e-signatures, held by Nexus in Östersund in the end of 2017.

“My colleagues on the operational side had read a bit about e-signatures earlier and talked to me about it, but it was on the road show that I really realized that this was something to go for: it was so clear and well presented,” says Ljungqvist.

He researched other e-signature solutions to be able to find the best one and contacted a couple of other suppliers to find out more.

The IT department had to be convinced

“But the other suppliers didn’t feel as good or serious as Nexus, and it didn’t feel like they were particularly interested in us. Nexus, on the other hand, was very accommodating and quick-footed, and gave a very good impression. That’s why I opted for them,” says Ljungqvist.

The next step was to convince Östersund Municipality’s IT department to okay the solution.

“They were first a little worried since we’re working with classified documents. But after having checked out the solution, they also came to the conclusion that it’s secure and trustworthy,” says Ljungqvist.

Lawyers examined the solution

Then it was time for the municipality’s lawyers to review the solution.

“The review itself didn’t take that long, but since they have a lot to do, we had to wait for six months,” says Ljungqvist.

Once the solution got a green light, the deployment only took a few hours, including a Skype meeting with a couple of Nexus representatives showing the solution in depth for Ljungqvist. The only things that needed to be installed were the mobile apps on the users’ smartphones.

Activation of electronic identities

“We sent out a link via email to the users so that they could download and install the app and activate their electronic identities. We took the email addresses from Active Directory. That’s the only thing we needed to do to get started, so it was very easy,” says Ljungqvist.

The users really appreciate the e-signing solution and have not had any problems understanding how to use it, according to Ljungqvist.

“The only thing that has happened is that some users didn’t activate their electronic identities in time, and then we had to tell them how to request a new activation link. I myself had some problems understanding the difference between the administration portal and the signing portal, but when I asked for help, I got fantastic support,” he says.

Östersund recommends Nexus

Östersund Municipality buys the solution as a service via a subscription that can be terminated at any time.

“In my opinion, other municipalities shouldn’t be afraid to try this. They will find that e-signatures mean that they save time that can be used for other tasks. And I can really recommend Nexus as a supplier: the solution is great and Per-Erik Nilsson and our other Nexus contacts are amazing to deal with,” says Ljungqvist.

Might integrate the solution

Östersund Municipality has been using the Nexus e-signing portal for almost a year now, since the spring of 2018. The next step might be to integrate e-signatures into the internal IT system.

“This would mean that our employees would save even more time. Currently they create a document in the internal IT system that is to be signed, and then they have to download it on their computer to be able to upload it to the e-signing portal. Once the document has been signed, they must download it from the e-signing portal and upload it to the internal IT system again. If we would integrate the Nexus solution with our internal IT system, it would mean that they could skip all these steps because the documents could then be signed directly in the internal IT system,” says Ljungqvist.

Nexus contributes to a more secure society

E-signatures are part of the Nexus Smart ID platform, which aims to contribute to a more secure society.

“Östersund’s use of our service is a very good example of this. To contribute to an even more secure society for vulnerable children and young people is among the most important things Nexus can do,” says Magnus Malmström, CEO of Nexus.

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