- 27 April 2018
- Posted in: Planning & Development, Science & Technology, Management & Leadership
A familiar and well-rehearsed narrative for local government is that it is increasingly fragmented and hard to navigate. While this is true, local government is unique in the number of lines of business it operates from zoo licenses to waste congestion! Furthermore, managing demand and rising expectations at a continued time of financial constraints is no easy feat, and as such councils are embracing and seeing digital as an enabler to doing things differently to deliver more efficient services and improve outcomes for citizens.
For example, even though artificial intelligence (AI) is still a rather nascent market for public sector, local government is leading the way in its adoption and understanding its value in transforming services for citizens and reimagining service. Enfield Council introduced an AI-based chatbot to simplify internal processes and help residents complete standard applications. Aylesbury Vale District Council has also turned to AI to boost customer service. It has introduced a service that learns from previous council residents’ conversations and can improve council response time to resident queries on services, such as council tax, benefit and bin collection.
Technologies such as sensors can also enable greater self-service and empower citizens to manage their own situations. This is particularly relevant in transforming health and social care services to deal with an ageing population.
It should never be a case of simply tech for tech sake but how tech can help solve a problem and ultimately improve the lives of citizens. A good example of where technology can transform outcomes is helping to prevent homelessness, and this is one of the biggest challenges facing local government. The latest official figures show an estimated 4,134 people in England were forced to sleep outside in 2016, up 16 per cent on the previous year. Furthermore, the government’s new Homelessness Reduction Act, will place more responsibility on local government to prevent homelessness when it comes into force in April 2018. By unlocking the potential of their existing data, local authorities strategically predict and prevent homelessness by identifying households at risk of losing their home. Councils, such as Redditch, are using apps to enable the public to alert the local authority about people sleeping rough on the streets.
While the pace of change maybe slightly slower in public sector, it is an exciting time in local government digital transformation. The more progressive councils will see digital as an opportunity to re-imagine how future services can be delivered as well as gain value in reducing demand on services; improving efficiencies; enhancing customer experience and driving better decision making from data insights. The momentum must not be lost - councils must continue to share best practice and case studies on their transformation journeys.
The Art of the Possible
If you’re a council looking on or looking to begin your digital transformation or want to explore what the ‘art of the possible’ is then do get in touch! techUK has an active public sector programme which connects central and local government stakeholders with suppliers of all sizes to access innovative tech services to transform public service outcomes. techUK represents more than 950 tech companies and convene the breadth and depth of the market. There is the opportunity to workshop through ideas on re-imagining service delivery as well as inform you of the latest tech innovations in this space.