Digitaf shows how Tel Aviv is prioritising young children

Every child born in Tel Aviv is now sent a Digitaf card. Launched in December 2017, Digitaf – which reads in Hebrew as a pun on ‘digital for toddlers’ – is a new addition to Tel Aviv’s pioneering online Digitel platform, which connects residents with municipal services. Digitaf makes it easy for parents to book appointments with ‘well baby’ clinics, or find out about local childcare facilities or upcoming public events such as storytelling. It offers discounts on products, services and activities.

A trendsetter among cities

Young children have become a cross-cutting strategic priority for the city of Tel Aviv, following a strategic partnership agreement between the municipal government, the Bernard van Leer Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Tel Aviv Foundation. Tel Aviv has a proud reputation as a trendsetter among cities, within Israel and around the world. Cities in India, for example, have emulated the Digitel model.

Digitel previously provided information and discounted services only for children over the age of 3. In discussions with the Urban95 programme manager, the department responsible immediately recognised how much more the platform could do for parents of younger children – and that this was worth investing in: most of the funds for Digitaf came from the city government’s budget.

A testing ground for practical solutions

The Foundation’s Urban95 programme in Tel Aviv provided technical assistance to develop the idea of Digitaf when it emerged from research by the Bloomberg Innovation Team on the financial challenges faced by parents of young children and the difficulty of navigating municipal services. We facilitated the involvement of the Bezos Family Foundation, whose Vroom app provides brain-building tips to parents, to translate their content into the local language and context as part of the Digitaf platform. In partnership with the civil society organisation Mesila, we have ensured that content is also translated into Tigrina to serve the sizeable Eritrean asylum seeker population in the city.

Digitaf was developed in weekly meetings among multiple departments of the city’s government, which brought diverse partners around the table. The city’s mayor launched Digitaf at an event which featured a ‘takeover’ of City Hall by thousands of parents and under-3s.

Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv, says:

Tel Aviv is always interested in implementing new ideas that could improve the quality of life for our residents, and we are excited to be among the first cities in the world to be thinking seriously about how addressing the issues faced by our youngest citizens could have wider ramifications for making the city a better place to live.