City of Rotterdam: Digitizing three critical election processes with Power Apps

Explore how the City of Rotterdam harnessed the power of Microsoft Power Apps to digitize and revolutionize its election processes. A rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic led to an agile, low-code solution that not only ensured the continuity of essential functions but also set the stage for a more modern and efficient electoral system.

In the lead-up to the Dutch Parliamentary elections in March 2021, the guidelines related to COVID-19 were uncertain. When it became clear that housing groups of employees in the same space and allowing free movement on the work floor would not be possible, digitalization became the only option for Rotterdam Municipality to ensure the smooth operation of three critical election processes:

  1. Handling all telephone inquiries from polling station employees.
  2. Handling all telephone inquiries from citizens.
  3. Managing all inspectors responsible for ensuring the correct procedures at the polling stations.

Before 2021, the municipality of Rotterdam used paper forms ("work orders") for these processes during elections. For example, if helpdesk staff couldn't answer a telephone inquiry immediately, they would personally deliver a paper form with all the relevant information to a member of an expert team for further handling. This approach became unfeasible during the March 2021 elections.

Microsoft Power App

Facing this challenge just over a month before the Dutch Parliamentary elections, Rotterdam Municipality turned to Motion10, its existing ICT partner, to develop a viable alternative. After briefing us on their precise requirements, we delivered a prototype of a Microsoft Power App within 48 hours. Based on the potential of the prototype, the municipality quickly recognized the value of this low-code solution.

The Power App contains all the information from the paper forms. A link to a Power BI dashboard allows real-time monitoring of the handling of all inquiries and workload management for all employees. After the green light, the app was ready for use within four weeks. Ultimately, the municipality successfully digitized each of the processes. In total, over 2,200 inquiries and work orders were handled through the app during the 2021 elections, all while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.

Adding and Expanding Features

Elections after 2021 demonstrated that the Power Platform doesn't just serve as a solution for emergencies but also modernizes the election process on a broader scale. After the Dutch Parliamentary elections in 2021, Motion10 added valuable features to the application. Some of the new functionalities used during the Municipal Council elections of 2022 included:

  1. Employees can filter polling stations not only by polling station number but also by district and address for increased accuracy.
  2. Telephone operators receive an overview of the number of work orders per polling station and are notified of repeat inquiries.
  3. The nearest troubleshooter (employees who resolve issues at polling stations on election days) is linked to a work order.

Jeroen op 't Root, Project Manager Elections at the City of Rotterdam:

"I received enthusiastic feedback from many app users. They were particularly impressed with its user-friendliness. Even users less skilled with digital technology found it easy to use. Most importantly, as the Elections Team, we were able to respond quickly, efficiently, and effectively during an important event under exceptional circumstances. We look forward to using the app again in future elections, whether with or without COVID-19 guidelines."

Power Platform for Government

Provincial States Elections 2023

The features added for the Municipal Council elections in 2022 yielded positive results once again. Based on the feedback and needs of end-users at the City of Rotterdam , the application was further optimized for the Provincial States Elections in March 2023. In 2022, we worked on mapping the real-time statuses of work orders using the Microsoft Power Platform. Employees now have personalized dashboards, and a logbook of current work order updates is maintained.

User-friendliness is a central focus in optimizing the application for Rotterdam. How employees adapt to the modernization of election processes has undoubtedly contributed to the success of the municipality's election app. To facilitate the adoption of new technology, we provided change management support throughout the transition.

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