People who know me are aware of the fact that I don’t like waiting around in queues. At all. I find that most of the time queuing up is useless, unpredictable, unproductive and it never makes me a happier person.
And should I ever need to queue up because there really is no other option, then I try to make an appointment online beforehand, whether it’s because I have to send a package, go see a doctor, get something at the city hall and if that isn’t an option either – sometimes some platforms monitor wait times, allowing some sort of predictability about how much time will be wasted that day.
So here on day I read that the government announced “IO” (wish currently is in public Beta), an app promising to transfer all the Italian bureaucracy into the digital sphere, at your service around the clock, just a tap away. This sounds exactly like the kind of app I would like!
One app to rule them all. I like the concept.
Honestly, I didn’t expect much but I thought I’d give it a shot anyway.
Installing the app is easy. You can download it on the App Store if you use iOS, or on the Play Store if you use Android. The app itself is free and the installation process is pretty straightforward. Tap on “Get” (iOS) or “Install” (Android), insert your password or identify via Touch ID or Face ID. The app will then quickly download to your smartphone.
Since you will receive official communications from the public administration, the developers of IO had to make sure that they can guarantee that you really are who you say you are.
There are two ways you can log into the app. Either with a SPID (Public System of Digital Identity) or via CIE3.0 (Electronic ID), which basically are credentials that you have to activate once through a “trusted provider”. Currently the trusted providers are:
Some providers allow you to verify your identity for free, by uploading your documentation (ID or passport) and some other information – in some cases this only takes a few minutes.
Getting the SPID
Personally I went for the PosteID, since I already had a simple account there. So all I had to do was to request the SPID via my existing account. However somehow the process didn’t finish as planned resulting in me being locked out from my original account – and then the SPID didn’t work either for about half an hour, which was confusing and frustrating.
Long story short, it took about an hour to get the SPID running, so I suppose there is some sort of approval process going on behind the scenes.
Since it’s also possible that the culprit was my browser cache, I won’t blame it on the Poste this time (however, I have plenty of other complaints concerning other areas of their services – maybe for another day).
The time had come for my first login. The app user interface is simple and clean, although it feels more like an Android app than an iOS app. There is currently no web version available:
From their website:
Potrò usare tutti i servizi di IO anche da browser web?
In una prima fase abbiamo deciso di concentrarci sulle applicazioni mobile e, in particolare, sulle piattaforme Android e IoS, che sono di gran lunga le più diffuse. Alcune funzioni saranno disponibili in futuro anche dal browser: inizieremo dalle funzioni relative alla gestione di privacy e sicurezza.
Small detail: I just can’t get over the fact how they write iOS in the FAQ: IoS.
It’s like someone tried to write those three letters in the weirdest way possible.
You can choose between four sections, including “messages”, “payments”, “services” and “profile”.
The “messages” section contains official documents sent to you by the public administration. However, for now you will only see emails sent by the dev team of IO, welcoming you to the app and giving you some ideas about how to use it.
The “payments” section allows you to add payment methods and if you have to pay a bill, then you can scan payments via a QR code or enter them manually. All transactions will be stored here.
In the “services” section you can choose available services that are available on a National level, or you can choose those for your city (in my case that’s Rome).
In the profile section you have your “codice fiscale” card available in digital form. It is similar to how you can add tickets or credit cards to Apple’s Wallet. That means if you need to scan the barcode of your codice fiscale card, you could also use this app for it (e.g. when scanning your card at the INPS).
So what can I actually do with this app?
In my case, selecting Rome, I can only choose between two options:
Sportello Unico per l’Edilizia and Sportello Unico per le Attività Produttive. Both services that are currently of no use for me as a citizen in Rome.
On a National level, the only service there is from ACI (Automobile Club d’Italia), so if you don’t have a car and don’t need to pay your “bollo”, or request a certificate of ownership, this will be useless to you as well.
And that’s it. Just crickets.
While I kind of like the minimalist style of the app, really at this stage it is completely and utterly useless for me.
It would be a dream if I could simply request any certificate, change my residency or pay any bills directly through this app. Or, heaven forbid, monitor the status of my procedures and requests to check if they have already been processed. That would be crazy efficient!
Unfortunately all this will depend on whether or not the various institutions will adopt the app and use the well documented API’s to offer their services through the app.
And since until now the very same institutions haven’t even managed to provide their most fundamental services on their own websites, in all honesty, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Until that day comes, the next time I’ll have to visit the public administration I will do the contrary of what John Lennon sang.
I try not to imagine all the people, because in case I didn’t make myself clear yet: I really, really don’t like queues.