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Since the beginning of the March this year, social institutions across Serbia have been using the new, innovative Aurora software, which enables the electronic collection of data in different areas of social protection work. At the end of last year, institutions in the territory of Vojvodina started to use this software, which greatly eased the administrative burden on social workers, thus improving their work efficiency, while ensuring data accuracy, reliability and confidentiality. With country-wide implementation, massive paperwork and data scattered across numerous documents and forms in social protection institutions will become a thing of the past.

The software was developed as part of the Digitalisation of Social Protection Instruments project, conducted by the Support to Sustainable Communities organisation, in cooperation with the Provincial and Republic Institute for Social Protection, as well as the Provincial Secretariat for Social Policy, Demography and Gender Equality. The project was supported by the Social Rights for Vulnerable Groups (SoRi), regional project implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

“We are particularly proud of the fact that this project launched a successful partnership of the public, private and civil sector. It received very important support from the social services and we are glad that they have recognised the multiple benefits of the solutions proposed by the project”, underlines Stanislava Vidović, National Coordinator of the SoRi project.

Owing to fast data collection, advanced data connection and analysis methods, the new software provides institutions and public policymakers with detailed insight into different aspects of operation of social protection institutions, such as the situation of local service providers, cases of domestic and partner violence, as well as reporting by centres for social work and residential institutions. The ultimate goal of introducing the software is to lay down the foundations for adopting social protection measures that will more efficiently meet the needs of different vulnerable groups.

“From the beginning of the process, the tendency was to ease the burden on social workers and enable them to spend less time dealing with administrative matters, and more time meeting the actual needs of the beneficiaries of social protection services. Due to inaccurate data and excessive burden on their employees, social services have rarely been able to act preventively. The idea is to that rapid and detailed data analysis conducted by this software enables them to do so”, emphasised Vidović.

The social protection system in Serbia includes 423 institutions of different types – from centres for social work, residential institutions for persons of different categories, to private homes for the elderly. Once or twice a year, all these institutions submit to the Republic and Provincial Institute for Social Protection detailed reports on their operation. Consequently, more than 400 such reports, which need to be integrated into a single document, arrive at the two addresses at the same time.

The benefits of the new software are numerous, but several of them stand out in particular – primarily the security of data, which are kept on servers in social protection institutions. Apart from that, the software may only be used by authorised and registered social workers, assigned by each institution separately. The second important benefit is the logical data control, which is integrated into the software. The system automatically warns the users if they have entered illogical data and informs them that the data is invalid. The possibility of error is thus minimised. The software also enables much faster data entry. For example, until now a new document was opened for each case of domestic violence, even if it referred to the same persons. Under the new system, each victim of domestic violence is assigned a unique number under which all potential subsequent reports pertaining to the same person will be filed. Thus, the data on the victim are not re-entered, while all cases of violence related to the same person are consolidated and more accessible. Aurora also envisages informing social workers about the deadline for report submission, which will impact their timely delivery.

“The software is very easy to use. In designing it, our aim was to ensure that the electronic form resembles as much as possible the documents previously filled out by social workers, so that they would more easily adapt to the new method. The response of social workers from the territory of Vojvodina that have already had an opportunity to use this software is overwhelmingly positive, which also encouraged us to expand its use to all municipalities in Serbia.“ emphasises Marija Krsmanović from the Support to Sustainable Communities organisation.

One of the next steps in improving the software will deal with the direct generation of reports, which will further facilitate the operation of social protection institutions and the Republic and Provincial Institute. Furthermore, considering that the new software will provide precise information about the operation of institutions in the system and about beneficiaries, the idea under discussion was for part of the data collected through it to be made publicly available to all those interested in the area of social protection.

The GIZ Regional Project on Social Rights for Vulnerable Groups commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) aims at improving the conditions needed to ensure equal social rights, including the right to non-discrimination, of vulnerable groups. Key stakeholders such as centers for social work, local administrations and non-governmental organizations are supported in selected municipalities. The project is implemented in five countries in the Western Balkans: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*[1], North Macedonia and Serbia.

Contact person: Mr. Michael Samec

[1] *This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSC 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.

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