In addition to the House of Sighs and the Bridge of Sighs, there was also the Clean Floor of Sighs last week. The council committees took place in the Antwerp town hall. The councilors became personally hopeless with the consequences of the cyber attack in early December. A new security system has been developed to reach the network of the city of Antwerp. But that means everyone has to change their password every thirty days.
In the lecture room next to the council chamber, it was sometimes necessary to queue to get to Bavo, the employee of the Digipolis municipal information technology service. The councilors huffed and sighed. The employee calmly explained what they had to do, and repeated it if necessary. His composure was admirable.
“It is best to do this even via your smartphone,” Bavo advised a council member. “Yes, but I’m not very handy with that,” said the council member. The digital divide can also be felt in the municipality. More and more services of the city government are digital. The Antwerp ombudsman service, among others, has already warned that more people are dropping out because they can no longer keep up with this technological evolution. Perhaps the councilors should keep their experience of the past week in mind when they discuss the further digitization of services.
Causes in the town hall will think back with nostalgia to simpler times. Maybe they should even walk to the privilege offer of -kom. This chest from the thirteenth century is on the Schoon Verdiep. in which the liberties of the city rights are preserved, the most important documents describing the lower rights of the city. The chest could only be opened with eleven keys from key bearers. That was not yet a closed security system.
And while the council members were shuffling through Bavo, the opposition party Groen gauged the state of affairs in removing the obstacles caused by the cyber attack and the financial consequences. Only the party failed at every ship. Each member of the council referred to the closed council committee of February 28. An unseen unity in college.
Groen party leader Ilse van Dienderen did not like that. “People who buy or sell a house cannot access the urban planning extracts. Both these people and the city are at risk,” Van Dienderen told city development alderman Annick De Ridder (N-VA).
“On February 28, we will be able to answer in a reliable way,” said De Ridder. “The residents are now dying to come to us with their questions and concerns, we answer all of them.”
To which Van Dienderen took over a bit: “Residents therefore get more answers to their questions than council members. That is a remarkable evolution.” Groen has already accused the city council of not engaging in dialogue with residents. Now that is happening, but the councilor feels passed over.