Opening by Mayor Jan van Zanen of the GovTech Summit, 14 October 2021


Excellencies, dear all from, government, science and business,


Welcome to The Hague – in person or online – on this second day of the GovTech Summit. The Hague is the right place for this meeting. Fortunately, the organizers, PUBLIC, agree with me. We are already looking forward to what we can do in The Hague next year.

For more than a century The Hague has been the international city of peace and justice and now, increasingly, security too. The Hague has built up a strong reputation in this area which we wish to maintain and build on. We do this by helping to modernize the law, justice, governance and security.

We promote digitization and help to make the law accessible and transparent. We are committed to good service in government. We ensure that private personal data do not end up in the public domain. We bring institutions and businesses together in networks like The Hague Security Delta (HSD). And we also provide a fertile environment for start-ups in GovTech. Like, Pandora Intelligence, for example, which specialises in online investigation. Or, to mention another, that provides public authorities, insurers and housing associations with digital inspections by cleverly combining images from various digital sources.

More and more market players are offering digital solutions to connect citizens, businesses and government bodies. For example, it has become very simple for us to identify ourselves digitally. Then it is easy to use digital tools to guide ourselves through the jungle of official rules and regulations. A development with unprecedented opportunities, and an exciting one too. Is GovTech going to take over from government?

The University of Leiden this year started its Leiden Technologies Programme. Delft University of Technology has recently appointed a professor of GovTech. Housed at the Policy Campus in The Hague. A big step on the way to becoming a GovTech hub in The Hague. Tomorrow’s knowledge workers are trained at the universities, at The Hague University of Applied Sciences and in secondary vocational education (MBO) colleges. Where it’s about more than just the technology. Ample attention is also given to the ethical questions raised by digitization and GovTech.

Enough about The Hague. The main programme of this exciting Summit will take place today, but a start was already made yesterday. There were interesting interviews with Kaja Kallas, Prime Minister of Estonia, and Hanna Johnson, Chief Operating Officer of PUBLIC, the organizers of this event. The field was further explored in various panels: How far is Europe with GovTech? What can GovTech do for our healthcare, the climate and security?

Later today you can join panels and workshops to ‘exchange views with investors, business owners, technology experts and government officers’. A great opportunity to survey the current state of the GovTech market and zoom in on the situation in the Netherlands, for example. In a moment State Secretary Raymond Knops will give you an overview of that in his video presentation to this Summit.

I wish you all an interesting and informative day.